By: Christine LaFrancesca, Staff Writer
As the lights fade to black, the murmur of whispers stops as the audience waits for the first play to begin. Seniors and theatre majors Alex Shade and Lexi Hauck each directed a play for the “Evening of Student Directed One Acts” in the Center of the Arts building last Thursday evening.
“The Scream” written by D.T Arcieri depicted a difficult three-person relationship scenario between Jane, a gay and miserable bank associate, Fern, a cheery and hopeful bisexual art gallery owner and Bob, a misunderstood artist. With a cast full of vivacious yet, befuddled personalities Alex said it was difficult to find the perfect people to play each role in her play.
“We had auditions and we had about 30 people come out to audition for about eight spots, between both plays. Many of the people who came for auditions were crazy talented and then we had to have call backs, we narrowed it down to about 15, so we could see people read for the parts they would potentially be cast as,” Shade said. “The people we ended up getting were perfect for the roles.”
“Life Under Water” written by Richard Greenberg is a story about Kip, a young man who, on a booze influenced whim, runs away from his mother’s house in order to chase a dream of making it big. He isn’t sure how he intends to make his fortune but, is determined to do so without the help of his mother. After passing out on the beach, he is found by two young women, Amy-Beth and Amy-Joy, and falls in love with one but lusts for the other.
With each character having very specific character traits, Hauck said that it was important to find actors who work well together.
“It’s a lot about just finding the right equation, finding people who are perfect for the roles and also relate to each other,” Hauck said. “When you strike up a really good balance, like we both have with both of these cast then the hard part is over.”
Shade added, “I think once you find people, who work well, there’s a lot less to worry about. There is a strong energy in the room and that comes largely in part from who you’re in there with. Once you have the right people, you can play with that energy and mix people.”
Since the plays performed were not student written plays, there was a lot of behind-the-scenes work done in order to get the rights to continue with production.
“I contacted my playwright directly, asking if I could use his play. He e-mailed me the next day, attaching his script and said he hoped I’d use it. The school wrote up a contract with him about leasing the rights of the play. I was nervous that I really have to do the play justice because I have been talking with the writer of my play,” Shade said.
Junior and theatre major Allie Press played Amy-Beth, Kip’s love interest in “Life Under Water.” Her love for theatre started early, which sparked her interest in auditioning for Towson’s plays.
“I knew I wanted to be an actress in third grade. I was in the school show and it was the most amazing feeling,” Press said.
Acting has been her passion for years but it has had its difficult moments.
“If you’re in a musical, sometimes the most nerve-wracking thing can be hitting that one note, or hitting that pirouette in that one dance,” Press said. “I think right now where I am with ‘Life Under Water,’ the most nerve-wracking thing is not being in character. When I’m backstage and I don’t feel like I’m in character, that’s nerve-wracking because then I won’t be reacting properly and it will just sound like I’m reading lines.”
Shade and Hauck said that directing is their dream.
“I think the coolest thing about being a director is seeing those little moments come together. A lot of what you saw tonight is us but, those little moments and things are the actors. Theatre really is a collaborative thing. If you are thinking about going into acting, you have to be able to give and receive different ideas,” Shade said.
As student directors they have encountered their ups and down’s but always encourage people who are interested in directing to have an open mind.
“Flexibility is crucial. You’ll have a lot of things thrown at you that you won’t expect. And that’s just part of it, you know? Learning not to hold on to an idea too tightly,” Hauck said. “Having that openness and willing to change. You have to be able to be open and change.”