This year, the Centre for Drama Theatre and Performance Studies (CDTPS) 2021 Directors’ Showcase will run from December 3 to 5. Five student-directed short plays will be presented over two evenings and two matinee performances in a live streamed fringe-style festival format. The plays in the lineup include: Drowning Ophelia directed by Kimia Karachi, Fetch directed by Jordan Chan, Norma Jeane Baker of Troy directed by Sydnie Phillips, Sea Sick directed by Angelli McGuigan, and Silence directed by Darcy Gerhart.
Directing during a pandemic has obviously come with its difficulties. For Angelli, the biggest challenge will be putting on a show without a live audience. “As an actor, I often rely on the energy of the crowd, so telling my actors how to act for a camera has been quite the adjustment.” Angelli added, “Even as a director, it’s fun to see the reactions of the crowd during my show, so I’ll miss that.”
Kimia added that social distancing requirements have posed a unique challenge. Her chosen play, Drowning Ophelia, is about surviving the trauma of childhood abuse and finding hope to continue living, a story that, relies heavily on physical contact. For her, it has been interesting to explore alternative ways to block the show while still highlighting the intimate relationships and human connection fundamental to the story.
The directors have still enjoyed the opportunity to collaborate with their small teams. “I’ve come to really value the intimacy of that and the opportunity to really dive into the details of a show,” Angelli said. “Learning how to build the arc of the show with the actors has also been an amazing collaborative experience.”
Jordan echoed this sentiment, expressing the value of collaboration in his experience. “I tend to find myself lost in my creative chain of thought,” he explained. He has learned that the best ideas are sometimes developed with feedback from the rest of the cast and crew. “I don’t always have the answers, and sometimes new ideas and inspiration form when we work collaboratively. And when it does, it is very satisfying and much more enjoyable.”
Course instructor Banuta Rubess commended the directors for their hard work and collaboration over the term. Emulating the style of a fringe show, she has tried to create a workshop atmosphere in the classroom for the directors to examine the things they don’t know, encountering both discoveries and difficulties in the process.
“It’s been wonderful to be stimulated by their discussions and impressive to see how much they can support each other,” said Banuta. “Directors are usually solitary beasts, so I’m particularly impressed by their solidarity.”
Despite the unusual circumstances, Banuta and the directors are excited for audiences to see the final product. “All of the shows are very different and only twenty minutes long,” Banuta said, making them well-fit to experience at home.
To find out more about the shows and reserve tickets for the December 3 to 5 livestream performances, visit uoft.me/DirectorsShowcase21.