When directing a full length production, the term “play time” takes on a whole new meaning.
Theatre arts major Kayla Davis ’14 has taken on this role, directing “4,000 Miles.” The contemporary play, written by Amy Herzog, is about a young man returning from a cross country bike trip.
“It’s kind of a coming of age story,” Davis said. “It has a good cast, and I think it is a relatable story with characters that people can see themselves in.”
Davis has been working on this piece for her senior seminar since the start of the Fall 2013 semester, and said directing is a tough job.
There are a lot of different components of directing; for example, Davis said she, as the director, has to transcend what she thinks the show should be and give that to her actors and crew. She also needs to help them discover what they are trying to create together, and then turn that into what she calls, “a cohesive piece of art.”
In theatre arts, students at Hiram College are required to take classes from across the board. By their senior year, theatre majors have a diverse understanding of what the field is all about. With this knowledge and the flexibility within the department, seniors are able to really individualize their senior seminars.
“We really consider each of our students’ senior seminars a totally individualized project that suits their skills and challenges them at this stage,” said Rick Hyde, professor of theatre arts and Davis’ adviser.
Students can direct, act, write a play, write a research paper, or even be a dramaturge (the person who studies the play and is the representative of the author at rehearsals).
“Since directing is the fulcrum of all the different aspects of a production, it’s a logical senior project,” Hyde said.
As her adviser, Hyde meets with Davis at least once a week to discuss what she is learning. The production itself is not the only part of her senior seminar. The paper Davis turns in at the end will tell Hyde what she has learned.
This year, the theatre arts department has two students directing their own plays, but they usually only have student directed plays every year and a half.
“It is pretty unusual for a department to basically give itself over to two students,” Hyde said, “but we have strong students right now, so we want to give them the opportunity.”
Giving undergraduates the option to direct their own play is not possible at most schools.
“It’s a great opportunity that we get because Hiram is a smaller school; at big conservatories you wouldn’t get the chance to direct your own show as a student,” Davis said.
The production runs Oct. 17-19 at 7:30 p.m. in the Renner Black Box Theater.Learn more about the theatre arts at Hiram College.