The Sage Publication is the student news site of Sage Creek High School in Carlsbad, CA

The Sage

The Sage Publication is the student news site of Sage Creek High School in Carlsbad, CA

The Sage

The Sage Publication is the student news site of Sage Creek High School in Carlsbad, CA

The Sage

Senior Directors Prove Age Does Not Sacrifice Quality

Students showcase all they have learned in years of theater in one scene that is completely their own.
Photo Courtesy of Jillian Porter
The nine senior directors of the 2018 Senior Directing Showcase pose dramatically on a staircase outside of the performing Arts Center. The directors worked on producing a scene for their project in which they had to pick, cut, cast, and direct before the showcase was performed for parents, peers, and theater lovers alike.

Nine student directors anxiously waited on the left side of the theater as it filled with parents, peers, spectators. The low murmurs danced through the room, filling it further. We were asked to turn our cell phones off and to note the emergency exits, then the production began, the first director introducing the scene, and then the scene played out before our eyes, starting an ebb and flow of darkness and light, shuffling and stepping, shadows and actors.

The idea of the senior directing project was born out of a need for new curriculum last year. When some of the seniors took the theater three class for the third time, a want arose to give them something new, a ‘final’ per se, in which they would bestow all of their years of knowledge and experience onto a project where they would take on a leadership role and learn the skill of conducting groups of people. The senior directors are inspired to direct their scene and inspire their actors and audience through a powerful work. The final product was performed last Thursday at the CAC.

While students had the clear requirements to pick the play, cut the script, cast it, hold call backs and schedule rehearsals, some of the genres were nuanced and often more demanding of the director.

“I have to teach everybody music, then I have to teach the dance, and then I have to teach the scenes in between,” senior Brenna Hughbanks noted. Hughbanks’ scene is from the musical “Little Shop of Horrors,” which has the elements of singing and dancing along with the regular speaking roles.

To say teaching is the only overwhelming part of this project would be an understatement; the seniors’ battle is not just creating and teaching, but having to deal with the unexpected.

“It seems like we get a lot of time to direct everything, but that is not the case,” Hughbanks remarked.

Fellow actor and director, senior Alexandra Morel’s scene was the fantastical “Neverending Story” in which Morel designed all the costumes for the actors in her scene. The homemade costumes really made her scene stand apart, truly making it seem otherworldly, taking the audience to a different frame of mind, a freer one.

“I have eleven actors in my group; I wrote the script for nine, so I’m having to figure out a way to put people into background scenes and having to make costumes for everybody, and getting them all to pay attention at the same time,” senior Alexandra Morel said.

Along with the problem solving, the stress of the imminent deadlines, and the pain of getting students to listen to your directions, the project provides a sort of empathy of what it is like to lead large groups of rambunctious, creative people.

“I think it’s like being a teacher. Not every day does a student come in like ‘I’m ready to be the best’ and so as the director you have to [ ]  think of new ways to keep kids engaged. … They are in charge of figuring out ways to make sure their cast is getting memorized and make sure that they are staying on task and getting things done,” advanced theater teacher, Jillian Porter added.

The students get to become teachers of their own and guide their actors in ways that are outside of the box. They are not like teachers because they aren’t teachers, but their fresh ideas get the job done and even inspire Porter, their teacher.

“I’m always impressed with how it all comes together because of how they thought,” Porter said, “[I love to] see how they respond to [the actors] and how they look and feel like when their cast does something that they want them to do and so when they see something come to life that they planned in their brain and worked for.”

Even so, the director of the senior directing project struggles to not put her own creative influence over the scenes.

“Sometimes I have to not say anything because I want them to figure it out themselves and they do; and sometimes I learn just by watching them and what directive thing they decide that I wouldn’t have done,” Porter remarked, “And if they have directed something a certain way, I might have done it differently but … I’m always impressed with how it all comes together because of how they thought.”

Through all the seniors hard work and dedication, we will all see the product of the weeks of effort, performed in a beautiful scene.

“Theater is kind of magic that way,” Porter said, “[Y]ou literally take something that’s from the page and build it up into something that’s performed on the stage and it’s a whole different way of viewing something.”


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