| 03.17.2018

From acting to directing


Theater students showcase directing talents  for the student directing competition

Kara Billington


Many students in the University of Idaho Theatre Department are actors, but theater extends to directing as well. Four UI theaterstudents are taking their directing talents to Denver, Colorado, this week for the annual Kennedy Center American College Theater Festival (KCACTF). Accompanied by their mentors and a hand-picked cast, the students will present a short scene they have directed in front of judges and peers from schools around the Northwest.

The UI Theatre Department hosted a showcase on Wednesday for the student directors to prepare for the upcoming student directing competition at the KCACTF.

Student director Lauren Hirsch is using this competition as a chance to get feedback from peers and professionals and to grow as a director.

“Mainly, it’s an opportunity to try out what we are learning,” Hirsch said. “And see how we can create this world and get feedback from professionals.”

Creating a world with the actors is her favorite part as well as the hardest part of directing, Hirsch said. She said she started out as an actor, but has since discovered a love for directing and has become more inolved with that aspect of theatre. Hirsch will be attending the the competition with fellow classmates Hunter Price, Sean Hendrickson and Shea King. They will compete with about 22 other student directors from around the region.

For the competition, the directors are given a choice of 10 scenes and pick the one that resonates with them the most, she said.

Picking a scene that tugs a heartstring for them is a good way for student directors to put their passion into what they are directing, Hirsch said.

The competition allows the student directors to have their own experience of the directing process. After directors pick the scene, they select a cast, set up a rehearsal schedule, gather or make props, chose music or sound effects and produce it to fit their vision.

David Lee-Painter, one of the mentors for this process, said he and the other mentors are there to help but encourage the directors to take control of their project.

“We try to really encourage it being their experience,” Lee-Painter said. “So we’ll come and give them feedback, but it’s entirely their experience.”

Unlike a directing class, this project is much more individual and allows some more freedom. Participation in the festival and the competition is not a class for these student directors, it is entirely extracurricular, Lee-Painter said.

Lee-Painter said seeing the individualization of each student’s project is the most rewarding part of the process.

“I love to see that moment where they take ownership of it,” he said. “The sense of deciding what their own values are, what their own aesthetic is and their own way of working.”

The four student directors, their mentors and cast members will go to Denver from Feb. 20 to Feb. 25.

Kara Billington can be reached at arg-arts@uidaho.edu or on Twitter @K_Billington3

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