Students direct eight shows for May festival



The cast of “The One Where No One is Ready,” a short play based on “Friends,” rehearses a scene.

Walking into a room to audition for a panel of adults you have never met takes bravery, but it does not compare to walking into a room to audition for a panel of your peers.

Each year, the Drama Society’s Student Directed Festival, commonly referred to as “SDF,” presents a collection of 20-minute-long projects prepared and performed by students in the Drama Society. The auditions, casting and even script writing processes are conducted by the student directors, who have to schedule rehearsals and give notes to their actors. This year, the eight shows of the Student Directed Festival will be performed on May 20.

Junior Griffin Schroeder plays Ross in “The One Where No One is Ready,” a show based on an episode of the ‘90s sitcom Friends. Schroeder said that being a cast member in a student-directed play has a more relaxed feel compared to that of an adult-directed play.

“Depending on who your directors are, if you’re more familiar with them outside of the show, then it can tend to feel a bit more casual. But I think that you find during rehearsal, professionalism is still maintained. While there is a tendency to maybe get a bit more casual, it’s not necessarily a bad thing,” Schroeder said.

Sophomore Ivy Bass plays Velma in “Meddling Kids,” an original adaptation of “Scooby Doo” written by senior Valentia Burlak and sophomore Allen Burlak. Bass said that while participating in a student-directed play can help alleviate stress, it is also an unfamiliar and daunting experience.

“It’s both less intimidating and more intimidating when your peers are casting you. It’s almost like you’re being judged by people who you like, who are your friends,” Bass said.

Besides the fact that working with peers offers easier composure and more flexibility, student-directed plays give students the chance to take creative initiation by actualizing their own ideas.

Junior Penny Waldron directs “The One Where No One is Ready” along with senior Gareth Jones. Waldron said that, when inspiration struck for her show, all it took to take the next steps was approaching her friend and getting him on board. Once the idea was passed, it was time to cast.

While some may think a student-led show may leave room for biases in casting, Junior Sean O’Halloran, who directs the show “To Can” along with junior Albert Jiang, said that is not the case.

“I was more focused on creating the best show that I could than being like, ‘Oh, this is my friend—I want them in my cast,’ because I’m very committed to making this show happen. And so I was doing my best to make the choices that would be best for my show rather than for having a fun time with the cast,” O’Halloran said.

Waldron said that the casting process tends to go smoothly, although there is always a space for casting directors to contest decisions.

“After the auditions, which go from about 3 to 5, all the directors go into a kind of white box. We sit in a circle and go around and say our anchors, who is the first person we think is a necessity to cast in our show—like they’ll make or break our show,” Waldron said.

While having creative freedom can be liberating, O’Halloran feels that as a student director, he takes on many more responsibilities.

“When you’re with an adult, you feel like there’s a safety net. Like if something goes wrong, it’s not my fault. But as a director, if something goes wrong, it is completely on me. So yeah, that is a little stressful to think about,” O’Halloran said.

However, no matter how stressful the process may be, Waldron said that the experience gained, the connections formed during rehearsals and the end result make the journey worthwhile.

“I’m looking forward to actually showing it to other people, because it’s a funny show. I think that the actors will definitely ride off of laughter from the audience,” Waldron said. “It’s funny, I want to see the audience’s reactions. I wanna see how the actors take the script onto the stage. I’m just excited about the whole thing.”