Students take the lead in directing “One Acts” plays

Students take the lead in directing “One Acts” plays

Danny Fookson, staff writer

The Theater Department seems to always be putting on productions for the community, but there is one production that is unique compared to the rest: The senior directed “One Acts”. While Beth Barber and John Knight, the two Drama teachers at South, direct most of the shows at South, “One Acts” is completely produced by South students.

Barber and Knight select seniors to control everything in the production process, including choosing a play, casting students, creating a schedule, and directing the students. At the start of the process, each senior director chooses their own play to direct. According to Knight, “One Acts” is very valuable for the students to experience.

“Students who direct a play, even a short one-act play, discover how difficult it is, how many things they have to consider in addition to the wonderful joyous experience of it all,” Knight said.

Senior Robert Poyser, one of the senior “One Acts” directors this year, recalls many fond memories from “One Acts”.

“It was the first day we did [the kissing scene] and I thought it was going to turn out horribly, and it actually ended up being really good,” Poyser said. “I think what I’ll remember from ‘One Acts’ is [the actors] kissing and it being amazing.”

Senior Atticus Hebson, another “One Acts” director, is already getting a taste of the rewards of directing. According to Hebson, he will remember these rewards for a long time to come.

“We just dove in and read through, and it was so thrilling to just hear two people read [the play] out loud,” Hebson said. “That moment I realized just how exciting this rehearsal process could really be.”

According to Barber, the founder of “One Acts”, these experiences truly make a huge impact on the kids. Kevin McDermott, South graduate of 2013, was also a “One Acts” director in his senior year, wrote his own play for the program.

“Kevin took his show to college and produced it [at University of Illinois],” Barber said. “He tweaked it after doing it here, and he did it there which is very cool.”

Although “One Acts” is done by students, McDermott attributes much of his success to Barber’s mentoring.

“She taught me a lot of tips on how to get my vision across to the actors so they know what I want,” McDermott said. “Overall, she helped me fine-tune my directing skills.”

“One Acts” also gives a lot of opportunity for students to work with each other. According to freshman Tony Cipolla, an actor in one of the “One Acts” plays, the program strengthens the theater community at South.

“You get really close with the people you work with,” Cipolla said.

Sophomore Abby Roberts, another actress in a “One Acts” play, remembers how helpful “One Acts” is in bringing her closer to the upperclassmen.

“I didn’t have a lot of contact with the seniors prior [to ‘One Acts’], being a freshman, and being in these plays that had older people was intimidating,” Roberts said.

After taking part in “One Acts” as an actor his sophomore year and director his senior year, McDermott also recognizes the benefits of working with other students.

“It’s nice to work with somebody older than you that can guide you through a scene because as good as a teacher is, at some point there has to be someone you can relate with better, and ‘One Acts’ does a really good job of that,” McDermott said.

Although the program provides beneficial experiences for aspiring theater students, “One Acts” is not put on every year due to lack of available students. Still, there was a huge turnout of actors and directors this year, according to Barber.

While enjoying the fact that so many underclassmen are getting interested in the theater program at South, Knight is very excited that many of the plays chosen for “One Acts” this year are light and comedic.

“People should come expecting to laugh,” Knight said. “This is not going to be a serious, deep, dramatic exploration of the human heart and tortured soul and psyche. This particular group is going to be more funny. That’s what I’m looking forward to.”

“One Acts” can be a powerful experience for students, according to McDermott, who is now applying his high school experiences in his life. He believes that “One Acts” can be very helpful in the real world.

“In the practical sense, acting helps you be empathetic while understanding how other people are feeling because you have to literally step inside someone else’s shoes and feel what they feel,” McDermott said.