Directorial debut: Cam Jones ’24 directs student-run production of “Rabbit Hole”


Directing a play, especially one filled with complicated themes and intimate moments, is often described by creatives as not for the faint of heart, but doing it completely independently can present a different challenge entirely. However, one senior at the College of William and Mary was up to the task and directed a successful production right here at the College. 

Cam Jones ’24 has been surrounded by theater his entire life, with his involvement starting from a young age and continuing through his time at the College. Jones has done mainstage shows through the theater department and other student theater organizations, and he has taken theater courses at the College. To Jones, these experiences have helped shape him as a person.

“I think it has made me a lot more outgoing as a person, and I think I’m pretty good at understanding how people think and reading people because of reading so many plays and understanding different characters from that,” Jones said.

The idea to direct a play himself came to Jones around December, and for a variety of factors, he decided that he should start an independent production in particular.

“I was really interested in directing, but there’s a lot of requirements to be in the directing class, and because of my major I didn’t have the opportunity to take the directing class,” Jones said. “And I was wanting to be able to direct and produce a show without the sort of restriction that the department puts on things, because obviously they have oversight over everything and you don’t have as much freedom.”

Jones chose to direct a production of the early 2000s play “Rabbit Hole,” which is an emotion-filled Pulitzer Prize-winning piece about a family coping with and grieving about the sudden loss of a young child. As one of Jones’s favorite plays, “Rabbit Hole,” would also prove to be befitting for his situation as a first-time director because of its smaller scale.

“I think it’s a really well-written play,” Jones said. “I think it’s well-suited for an independently-produced student theater production, because it’s got a very small cast. It’s a very intimate production, and I think it works well in the space that we had available, which was in Ewell Hall.”

To take on such an emotional and complicated play, Jones relied on both his intuition from personal experiences and the advice of theater professor David Garrett and theater lecturer Bridget Wolf. 

“I consulted professionals that I had taken classes with, and I asked them for advice about ways to direct certain things,” Jones said. “Because this play is so interpersonal, I did rely on a decent amount of personal experiences to try and guide people towards how I wanted them to move the scene forward. It was definitely an emotional experience just because I was relying on so much personal stuff.”

Being in charge of such a powerful production was not a task that Jones took lightly, and he worked to ensure that all voices involved were heard and respected. 

“I was very much wanting an open, collaborative environment. Because it was my first time directing, I knew I wasn’t going to be perfect, so the first day we had a rehearsal, I was like ‘please let me know if you have any suggestions or ideas, I want to hear from you, I want this to be a collaborative process,’” Jones said. “Because part of it is that this show is so kind of traumatic and dark, I wanted everyone to feel really comfortable and safe in this environment. So if there were any concerns, I wanted people to bring it up immediately.”

There are a number of themes, such as grief and loss of a family member, within “Rabbit Hole” that can be emotional and sometimes difficult to respectfully approach. Due to this, Jones worked to create an environment that was safe and comfortable for his actors to thrive in, despite the intimate aspects of the production. Specifically, he involved a designated intimacy director to advocate for the actors, and he made sure that everyone within “Rabbit Hole” was protected and respected throughout the creative process. Additionally, Jones made sure to implement what is known as “de-roling” for the actors to separate themselves from their characters outside of rehearsal. 

“I had an actor come up to me one day after rehearsal and he was like ‘Hey, I’m going home and feeling really sad all the time.’ And I was like, ‘Okay, we don’t want that,’ so I kind of looked into the idea of physically stepping into the role when you come to rehearsal, and then stepping out of it when you leave,” Jones said. “Part of that was we had people bring in costume pieces that they would put on in rehearsal, and then they would take it off when they were done. That was to help physically reinforce the idea that their character was separate.”

As a rookie director, Jones went through a personal journey with confidence and self-assuredness in his abilities, but as time went on, trusting i.n himself became easier.

“It was difficult for me to have the responsibility of the production resting in my hands, because I had never directed before,” Jones said. “I kind of had almost like imposter syndrome, of like, what if I’m making the wrong choice? Or what if this actually looks bad, and I think it looks good?”

Ultimately, all of Jones’s and his casts’ efforts were not in vain, as the show and its director’s debut, in the eyes of many, turned out to be a spectacular success.

“I think I’m more confident in my abilities. I feel like, and I don’t want to sound like bragging when I say this, that is not my intention, but I had people come up to me and they were very surprised that this was my first time directing, which made me really happy,” Jones said. “And I got really, really positive feedback on the show, which made me more interested in maybe doing something similar in the future.”


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