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Students show off directing skills with one act plays

After weeks of rehearsals and tech calls, the Directing II class is ready to showcase the Festival of One Acts in the Belmont Little Theater.

As part of the class, taught by professor Jaclynn Jutting, students self-produce, cast and direct a one act play.

Working alongside peers, directors have spent the past four weeks in production preparing for the festival.

Student director Joe Mobley praised Jutting — an experienced director with over 10 years of experience — for her invaluable help throughout the whole process.

“She has shared so much insight on what should, could and can go on in the process of rehearsal,” Mobley said. “That information has been invaluable in mounting my first fully-realized piece.”

Mobley’s one act “Escape” follows the story of Garland and Perla, a brother and sister in a longtime rivalry who are reunited after their missing mother sends them a life-changing message.

Theater is a collaborative effort. Putting on a show is not a one-person job, and it takes a team, Mobley said.

Jack Tanzi, a first-time student director, who has previously shared the stage with many of his actors, had to adopt a different mindset to direct them and also realized the value of peer input, he said.

“I was a little worried before we started the process that it would be hard to direct my peers. I’ve worked directing children in summer camp settings, but never anyone my age,” Tanzi said.

In Tanzi’s production of “The Den of Dreams,” a young girl goes on a journey to find a mysterious wish-granting object and escape her scheming stepmother and uncle.

Melissa Carlson, a junior theater performance major, directed “Horse Girls” a dark comedy about middle school girls which explores the drama of preteen life.

Carlson appreciates the hilarious and hyperbolic nature of the play, she said.

“Everything is life or death — sometimes literally. It’s a super fun play that any fan of ‘Mean Girls’ or ‘Heathers’ would enjoy,” said Carlson.

Carlson’s production won’t be the only comedy in the festival. Allison Alonzo’s one act, “The Grass is Greenest at the Houston Astrodome,” follows a painter and his comedic struggle to thrive as an independent gallery owner and the fallout of relationships among a group of emerging artists.

While the festival features many comedies, some of the student directors have also ventured into heavier themes. In “Terminal Lucidity,” director Courtney Potter will bring to life the story of sexual assault survivors.

EmElise Knapp’s production of “Swings,” tells the story of Marie and Charlie, who are stuck in an unhealthy relationship. Marie looks to spend time working on herself while Charlie tries his best to repair their relationship.

“Barred,” directed by Sofia Tosches, follows four women on death row in New Mexico who receive a glimmer of hope when they find out the state repealed the death penalty.

As the students prepare to show off their work in the festival, Mobley said this has been an extremely valuable experience for him.

“You can talk about directing and theory all you want, but it takes doing the auditions, casting a show, organizing and running rehearsals to really get a grip on what directing is even about,” Mobley said.

“Escape,” “Terminal Lucidity” and “The Grass is Greenest at the Houston Astrodome” will premiere Friday at 7:30 p.m., with a second showing Saturday at 2 p.m..

“Barred,” “Swings,” “The Den of Dreams” and “Horse Girls” will premiere Saturday at 7:30 p.m., with a second showing Sunday at 2 p.m..

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This article written by Meg MacDonald. 

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