10-Minute plays for THR 340: Directing challenge students to create and innovate

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Students working on Goudy’s film [Photo provided by Alyssa Goudy]

Kaitlyn Greer, Arts and Leisure Editor

As the semester winds down, many classes have begun final projects that may or may not be something students are looking forward to.

For Matt Chiorini’s directing class, this final project is something that all 13 students in his class can’t wait to show off.

Each student has to direct and produce a 10-minute play. All 13 students held auditions for their plays which were open to anyone who wished to try out!

Auditions were held on Sunday, April 25th, and by the next day the student directors knew who were the perfect fits for their roles.

It was a difficult task to figure out the number of roles versus the number of students who auditioned. Many had to take on more than one play and some students even had to turn down roles because of the commitment and restrictions set in place.

Now, the question that is always on people’s mind is, how does COVID-19 impact this year’s final project?

Danie Merrill, a senior in this class expressed her excitement as she finally gets to see how being on the other side of the production process goes down. However, according to Merrill, “COVID obviously serves as a challenge. I mean, having rehearsals for one thing when they’re in person, but with masks on it limits the amount of expression you can use, which ultimately means that you have to alter your art and your vision for the play…”

Unfortunately, this really limits the tools at their disposal, which includes actors who have “limited means.”

This contributed to the process students underwent to pick out the plays they wanted to direct, and sadly, many of the plays had to cut parts out in order to stick to certain requirements and limitations.

Some of these include the lack of actors and COVID-19 complications.

Specifically for Merrill, the play that she chose to do for her final project stuck out to her for personal reasons.

Merrill shared her compelling story behind choosing the play she did, she has a personal relationship with someone going through the final stages of their life.

“This particular play is really relevant to me right now… I have someone in my family who is very, very ill.”

In order for her to help cope with this sad and difficult time in her life, she saw this play as a way to help get through this situation and to understand why it is happening.

Part of her artistic vision behind this play is memory and “how it affects us all differently…” Using this concept helps her to emotionally understand what is happening in her own life.

Although the final days of her loved one’s life will be painful for Merrill, she is expressing it through the thing she knows best, and that is art.

The passion and drive behind Merrill will push her to be a success in this final project.

The other students are also working on finding the right cast, setting aside times that work for everyone in the group, and just keeping up with the emotional strain that these last few weeks of classes bring.

Besides Danie Merrill, directing What The Dead Want, the other students who are busy at work include:

Kyle Tantillo [Heart of Hearing], Stephanie O’Brien [I can’t think of it Right Now], Alyssa Goudy [Depression & Other Magic Tricks: A Poetry Cycle], Nikita Sharkey [Broken Hearts], Paxton Potter [Cathleen Ni Houlihan], Andi Piston [While The Auto Waits], Michael Coyle [Family 2.0], Jason Pope-Bayne [This Is Our Music], Lauren Regan [Quiet Long Hours], Jack Hall [The Flick], Declan Rapp [Murder by Midnight], and Patrick Burke [I Eat Mantras For Breakfast].

There are many students who volunteered to be a part of these projects, that are actually playing parts in more than one play.

One student, Aiden McKenna, a sophomore dual major in theatre arts and English, shared his thoughts on his experience so far.

“I’m currently in two directing projects — Danie’s and Jack Hall’s. It’s a pleasure to work directly with students who have so much passion, and it’s an even greater pleasure for those dedicated artists to be my friends.”

Overall, all parties involved are beyond excited to see where these plays are taken.

It is a weird semester, trying to learn and teach over Zoom, with masks on, and having to avoid social interactions that previously would have been vital parts to a performance.

On May 20th, the final product of these plays will be performed in front of the entire class.

From students with vigorous experience in the performing arts to students with no experience at all, they will be taking on the position of perfecting the role given to them.

It will be a challenging experience, without a doubt, but it is one that everyone will remember as being great.