For the students of Richard Palmer’s theater class on directing, the auditions held this week were a milestone in proving that they are one step closer to seeing their hard work come to fruition.
The casting call was one of the final steps in the students’ semester-long endeavor to select, cast and direct original interpretations of 10-minute one act plays. Each play will be performed as part of the Directors’ Workshop in Phi Beta Kappa Memorial Hall from April 25-28. The preparations for the big week, as with most theater productions, began a long time ago.
“From the first day of class, we’ve started reading one acts, and then selecting one acts,” said Hayley Rushing ’11, who was in charge of organizing auditions. “[Then] we got them approved by the professor and came up with production concepts and did auditioning exercises, and now we’re at the point where we’re actually casting our show.”
The class is a requirement for all theater majors and gives students a taste of what a few may consider as a future career through an experience rich in hands-on involvement and creative freedom.
“It’s very student run and kind of rough and low on the theater echelon,” Rushing ’11 said. “But it’s something that we take a lot of pride in because it’s ours.”
The class structure offers valuable experience essential to any theater student’s talent repertoire. At the same time, it is also a chance for audience members, actors and directors to have a lot of fun with each play, since the 10-minute time constraint yields many witty performances.
“It’s a really fun thing to come to see because the 10-minute plays are usually very dense with either comedy or an attempt at tragedy, so at a minimum they’re very entertaining,” student director Zach Armstrong ’11 said. “It’s very raw because most of the people who direct haven’t had directing experience before and they’re casting whoever shows up, so they’re a lot of fun.”
This experience gives aspiring directors a chance to hone their craft while drawing in crowds from all disciplines. A few of the student directors are majors outside of the department such as Andrew McGlennon ’11, who is majoring in government. Nick Hampson ’13 is a government and marketing major who decided to audition for the Directors’ Workshop after a positive experience with another theater function.
“I know the directors of a bunch of the shows and they talked to me about coming out and auditioning for one of the shows,” Hampson said. “I did Premiere Theater a couple of weeks ago and I enjoyed it.”
Hampson sees the Directors’ Workshop audition and involvement with theater productions as a fun way to loosen up from the academic intensity of student life at the College of William and Mary.
“You gotta get your jokes in somehow, I suppose,” Hampson said. “[Acting’s] a pretty low-stress way to do it.”
At this time of the year, the casting turnout is thinner than usual as many students are involved in the theater’s current production, “Rover,” and are unable to participate in both. However, Rushing says that they always have some competition for audition turnouts because of how active the theater department and the dedicated actors are.
“One of the remarkable things about this department is that there are always so many things going on so there’s absolutely no excuse to not be involved in something at any given time,” Rushing said.