So you think you can direct? Five Stetson students have put in the hours—along with some blood, sweat, and tears—to earn the title of director. Their one-act productions will be opening this weekend, April 19th-22nd. To see the One-Act Festival, viewers are invited to come out on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday at 8pm, or Sunday at 3pm. All four productions will be performed in DeLand at the Museum of Art on Stetson’s “Second Stage“. The location is 600 North Woodland Boulevard.
The festival will feature five one-act plays, each one directed by a student in THEA 403, Stetson University’s Advanced Directing course. The students were able to choose their own plays, though the time restriction of including five plays in one show was a large factor in how their decision was made.
Jaycie Cohen, who is directing Three Guys and a Brenda, knew immediately which show she would choose. “The first time I read it, I was in 8th grade at a table read workshop with a couple of friends,” Cohen explained. “I fell in love with it from that moment on.” Cohen has been enjoying the unique opportunity of seeing her vision come to life in a play she has long loved.
Cohen is an accomplished sophomore at Stetson, having already directed seven plays in the past. Three Guys and a Brenda is the first show she is directing on her own at Stetson, and she noticed a difference when working with her peers. “They know me as a person that they sit in class with,” she pointed out. When having to take charge as the director and control the vision of the play, she explained that the peer-to-peer relationships added a difficulty. “I want to give it up to my actors because they were willing to give me that control.” She aspires to one day direct Broadway family shows, “like Matilda.” “If they give me any shows,” she added, “I’ll take it.” She is also currently directing a show in Wellington, Florida called Sensical the Musical.
When picking her one-act, Dakota Stitsinger noted that the class “wanted to incorporate humor.” After researching for one that interested her, she chose Daniel on a Thursday. “I’m lucky because I have two actors,” she said, adding that one of the biggest hurdles of directing is finding rehearsal times when everyone can meet. The hardest part, she said, was running rehearsals. “We had two 12 hour workdays this past weekend,” and they’re not done yet. Stitsinger added that “as we’re getting closer, I think the nerves are starting to get to people.”
Stitsinger is not a directing rookie either, having directed plays in high school. “This has been a monumentally better experience,” she noted, explaining that the cliques and unprofessional atmosphere of the high school theater was much different. For her one act, Stitsinger commended the experience of “working with people who are dedicated, who want to do it.” You can catch Dakota Stitsinger again directing a show for her senior project in the fall.
Cori Lapinsky, a Junior at Stetson, will also be directing on the Second Stage next year. For her one-act, she wanted to direct a play that touched on women’s issues. That’s how she chose Poof! by Lynn Nottage. “It’s a comedy with dark themes,” she said. What kind of dark themes? The protagonist’s “abusive husband spontaneously combusts,” Lapinsky explained.
Lapinsky said her biggest hurdle was working on communication with the actors. “You want them to be natural in what they’re doing, but you want to stay within your vision,” she elaborated. The “collaborative nature” of theatre is something that Lapinsky is certainly familiar with though, and will continue to master if she pursues her current post-grad plans of attending graduate school for directing. She has learned the ropes for several different positions within the theatre, citing “musical theater, straight plays, then scenic charging.” In the end, she chose directing, saying that “I like whenever I have the ability to create the concept and the vision.”
Cooper Hendrix is directing Variations on the Death of Trotsky by David Ives, a playwright he admires. “I suppose now a play with Russian revolutionaries might be interesting” he pointed out. When asked what the biggest struggle of directing has been, he said “the fact that I am hopelessly inarticulate with my phrasing of what I want”. Hendrix added that the phrase “clear as mud” has been tossed around. “It’s not what they’re doing,” he was quick to add in defense of the actors, “but what I’m saying.”
Hendrix will be graduating next year. He noted that the directing experience has “enforced wanting to be in a performance arts-type job”. Though this was his first time directing a play, Hendrix has done “a lot of musical performances” by playing in a band. “I suppose I’ve been directing those,” he observed.
Jane Peterson is directing Up & At ‘Em by Nathaniel Maciag. It will be second in the one-act line up.