Student directors prepare for one-acts

Waynesburg University will host student-led one-act plays on Monday April 6 and Wednesday April 8 in the Goodwin Performing Arts Center on campus. Performance times are still to be determined. One-acts are short student directed plays that only last a single act and are typically popular in attendance. The one-act plays are the primary assignment for the Directing for the Stage course within theatre studies. This semester, there will be seven one-act plays, which will each be approximately 20-25 minutes in length.

Elyse Morgan, a freshman entertainment and arts management major with a concentration in theatre, chose her one-act play three weeks ago and has been preparing for her performance ever since. Morgan, along with the other directors held an official audition for the roles a few Sundays ago and is looking forward to the directing experience. 

“I have read my script multiple times and marked up my script with notes about blocking, interpretations or notes. I have met with my actors a couple times just to get the feel of the script,” Morgan said.

Although a newcomer at Waynesburg University, Morgan is not a stranger to the stage. Morgan has been on stage many times for dance recitals, church and school plays, choir performances and high school musicals. Morgan was a student director during her junior and senior year of high school and plays the role of Theo in the university’s spring musical, “Pippin.”

For the Directing for the Stage class, taught by theatre professor and director Edward Powers, students are taught each aspect of a production that a director must control. They discuss experiences and focus on problems they have faced or could face during their productions. 

“For part of our grade, we directed a two-minute monologue a couple weeks ago. We are working on our one-acts right now, and then we will do either a duet scene or another monologue at the end of the semester,” Morgan said. “Our actors are voluntary, and we thank them so much for making room in their schedules to help us.”

Morgan chose to direct the play “Almost, Maine,” by John Cariani, after Powers introduced her to it.

“I fell in love with it immediately,” she said. “I will be doing two funny scenes from the one-act.”

Connor Hoffman, senior biblical ministry major, decided to direct a one-act he wrote himself. He began writing the show last spring, after which he had many people read the show and help him edit it. He wrote many drafts of the play before he said it was finally finished.

“I liked the idea of finding a new creative outlet, and the story I came up with was one that I felt passionately about and felt needed to be told,” Hoffman said.

Morgan plays a supporting role in his play and said she is “excited to be a part of his masterpiece.”

Because he wrote the show himself, Hoffman said he definitely has high expectations for it.

“I don’t believe it is going to be exactly how I’ve envisioned, but I know it’ll be done to the best of the ability of everyone involved,” he said.

So far, Hoffman said his rehearsals are going well and his cast are quickly getting acquainted with their characters.

The student directors would ultimately like the students, community members and other attendees to have a night to sit back and enjoy some entertainment. 

“My personal goal is to make the audience forget about their finals and projects that they have and be relaxed. We want people to come out and support the arts. We also want the students to appreciate the other students as actors and directors and not the person they sit beside in math class,” Morgan said. “My one-act is a romantic comedy, and I want people to know that love outdoes all other emotions.”

The most rewarding part of this experience for Morgan is being able to personally pick out her script and cast members. Morgan also believes having the independence to choose whatever details to portray on stage is powerful.

“Whatever I decide to put on that stage is mine and my creative thought process. I have to find the props and think of my actors’ costumes. I think of the interpretation of dialogue and their blocking. It is so cool to see something on stage that I created. The most challenging part of this is that I have never done this before, and three people are depending on me to tell them what I want them to do,” Morgan said.

These plays mean far more to the student directors than meets the eye. These opportunities help students understand the different jobs and perspectives that can add to the success of the theatre productions.

“We have learned what it takes to pick the script, cast the actors, schedule the practices, figure out how we want our actors to stand and interpret their lines. We’ve picked the costumes, lights and props. Please come and see what the student directors have created because we have worked hard to become directors.” Morgan said.