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One Acts Let Student Directors Express Visions

Director Adam Bangser ’10 instructs his actors, Charlotte SMith ’12 and Clay SInger ’13, in his one act, “Don’t Pick Up.”

Sam Freeman ‘11
Web A&E Editor

Director Adam Bangser '10 instructs his actors, Charlotte SMith '12 and Clay SInger '13, in his one act, "Don't Pick Up."

Every Tuesday for over a month, Adam Bangser ’10 had sat in the library surrounded by piles of one act plays and short story books. This was just the beginning of what was to be an extremely long and fulfilling process.

Starting Jan. 9, Staples Players will be putting on yet another production: the student–directed One Acts.

A prerequisite to direct is to have taken Theatre 1, Theatre 2 and the Directing class, which are available to juniors and seniors only.

For most, it will be their first time directing, a huge responsibility.

The responsibilities that come with putting on a 10-minute production are enormous.

Since Players director David Roth gives minimal help to these first-time directors, a lot of pressure is put upon them.

“We have to cast the show, get the props, get the costumes, find music, decide on lighting, and block the show,” Bangser said. “It is a big responsibility for a first time director.”

In addition to Bangser, 16 other juniors and seniors will be directing their own one act shows.

Matt Van Gessel ’11, who is directing “Just Before the War With the Eskimos” by J.D. Salinger, is most worried that his vision will not be realized.

“At times, things work well in my head, but don’t always work on stage. It will be a challenge to communicate my ideas to my actors,” Van Gessel said.

“Just Before the War With the Eskimos” is a short story that has been adapted to be a one act. While this may be one of the more difficult shows to comprehend, actors Charlotte Weber ’12, Ben Lewin ’12, Annabel Burchill ’12, and August Laska ’13 are sure to alleviate the stress people may have while watching.

Taylor Boone ’11 also adapted her show from a short story. Set at a dinner party in a French insane asylum in the 19th century, “The System of Dr. Tarr and Professor Fether,” by Edgar Allan Poe is sure to have the audience laughing.

Along with Boone, Peter Molesworth ’11 also decided to direct a rather humorous show. “The DMV Tyrant,” by Christopher Durang, is a satire based off a normal DMV visit.

The DMV lady (Madeline Seidman ’13) is extremely unhelpful while all the customer (Caley Beretta ’10) wants is to get her license renewed.

“It’s hysterical, relatable, and very honest,” Molesworth said.

In the mix of comical and serious shows, some love stories also appear.  Directed by Bangser, “Don’t Pick Up” by Susannah Nolan will break the audience’s hearts.

Set in a small bookstore, the play begins with actor Charlotte Smith ’12 stealing  a book from the shelf.

At the same time, she begins flirting with bookkeeper Clay Singer ’13. It escalates to more than a friendly conversation but sadly does not end as most love stories do.

For most directors, it was the opportunity to be on the other side of a show that attracted them to directing.

“I wanted to experience theater from the ‘other side of the table’ so to speak. It is nice to be the orchestrator of art and not a piece of it, like an actor is,” Van Gessel said.

Like Van Gessel, Molesworth also wanted to experience the other perspectives of the theater world.

“I just had a lot of questions that are now finally being answered,” Molesworth said.

As juniors and seniors, the directors have been apart of the Players’ community for a while now and some have even had major roles in the yearly plays.

For freshman or first time actors, One Acts is a great opportunity to start their high school acting career, believes Bangser.

“I am excited to work with young actors and people who have not had big parts in the shows,” Bangser said. “It gives them the opportunity to be the stars.”

As the date approaches, directors and actors alike are getting excited to show the Westport community their talents and capability in putting a show together all by themselves.

“I’m excited to see it all come together, as a final product,” Boone said.

Gessel is also anticipating seeing what his play evolves into.

“A director is not only in charge of all aspects of production, as an artist he or she has a vision that ties all performance elements together,” Gessel said.

It will be exciting to see if the visions of these first time directors will be pulled off.

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