Self-Directed Plays in Blackbox

After only five weeks of rehearsal, students of the Advanced Theatre Course presented their self-directed plays in the Black Box on March 1 at 8 p.m. and 9 p.m..

Advanced Theater, taught by Mr. Parker Reed, head of theatrical performance and instructor in theater, builds upon the strategies developed in Prep and Lower Mid Humanities Theater. Discussing his teaching methods, Mr. Reed said, “I try to pursue a practical and  conceptual approach, so students can understand both from a theoretical perspective of what is effective in acting [and apply] it into exercises and performances.”

Since Advanced Theater is a semester course, the four students in the course, Kiki Henry ’22, Zach Scrima ’22, Richie Mamam Nbiba’23 and Mehar Bhasin ’23, started rehearsals three weeks ago, giving them minimal time to prepare for the performance. Recounting on the difficulty of the rehearsal process, Nbiba said, “The rehearsal process was pretty strenuous, especially because the entire cast was also balancing the time commitment of Mamma Mia!. It took a lot of energy because it was four different shows at once, making things somewhat chaotic. At the end of the day, we got to a place where we were comfortable and confident with the word we’d done, and we’d done what we thought was impossible.”  Each student directed one play and acted in the other three, equally contributing to one another’s plays. As some consisted of more than three characters, several students were pushed outside of their comfort zone in order to play multiple roles, which challenged them to display their versatility and knowledge regarding different theatrical techniques. Students transitioned from directing to acting within minutes in the performance.

Students selected their plays aiming to challenge themselves as well to engage the community. Scrima directed Gonna Need to See Some ID by Donna Latham; Henry directed Incident on the Golden Gate Bridge by David MacGregor; Bhasin directed I Love You I Love You by Mark Harvey Levine; and Nbiba directed Soap Opera by David Ives. The performances gave both the audience and student actors an opportunity to examine the human condition, which is one of the key components of theater. The plays additionally gave student audiences insight about the course, by looking at the products that current students were able to make with the direction of Mr. Reed. Talking about the entire process, he said,  “I think it’s helpful when an academic endeavor yields a real thing, and people will see the final product. This amount of self-direction is also something that has never been attempted here [at Hotchkiss] before. Also, it is only the first marking period of this course, so I can’t imagine what they will be able to achieve by the end of the year.”

The upcoming Spring play, Clue, will offer more performance opportunities for students interested in theater. For more information regarding the play, be on the lookout for emails from the Hotchkiss Drama Association.