Directing class brings student talent, on and off the stage

Student directors showcase pieces after a semester of work

Story by Katy Macek, Copy Editor

Three students in an advanced directing class will take over Kjer Theatre this weekend, with the help of student actors from UW-Eau Claire as a part of the Spring Short Play Festival.

Showtimes will be in the late afternoon and night Friday and Saturday.

This is the second year senior Jacob Lindgren has taken the class, and he said everything about the show is done by the students; professor Richard Nimke acts as a sort of mentor.

“We’re acting as a production team collectively for each show, but as a director we pick the show, we cast it, we costume design it and everything ourselves,” he said.

Lindgren, Aaron Suggs and Jena Skalisky, the only three students in the class, have been working hard all semester to direct the entirely student-produced plays written by professional playwrights.

“Talley’s Folley”

Lindgren directed this play, written by Lanford Wilson, about two lovers who must overcome their own personal fears in order to be with each other. It is set in Missouri.

The first time he read the play, when looking through his options over winter break, Lindgren said he didn’t like it because he didn’t understand it.

“It’s listed as a romantic comedy and I only saw the dramatic and sad parts,” he said. “Then I revisited it and did see the humor in it. It is very funny, but it’s real.”

He said one of his favorite things about it is everyone, in some way or another, can relate to it.

While Lindgren said he has directed several shows before, this one was especially difficult because there are only two actors in the full 90-minute show.

“Literally carrying a show with two people is really fun but it’s also very scary because if something’s not locking or clicking in or making sense then it’s going to affect the whole piece,” he said.

The two actors have worked really hard to overcome these obstacles, he said, and he has seen their progress both on and off the stage.

Lindgren said one of his favorite parts of directing is telling the story of each piece and watching the actors create a subtext of their own in the way they portray every line.

“A Bench on the Edge”

Written by Luigi Jannuzi and directed by senior Aaron Suggs, this play focuses on two men sitting at the edge of an abyss and discussing the consequences of suicide.

The struggle in figuring out the reasons for being alive when everything seems to be going wrong in someone’s life is something Suggs said he enjoyed watching unfold between the characters.

“You’ve got something,” he said. “Even if you’ve got nothing, you’ve got something.”

He said he hopes the audience will understand this, especially if the members are going through a rough time in their lives and have contemplated suicide.

His favorite part of directing is seeing different elements he got to choose like the lighting and costumes, come together, he said.

“I’ve had this vision of what I want to do with the play, and we’re just getting to our tech week right now, so I was finally seeing all the pieces come together,” he said. “My actors are off-book now, I’ve seen all the lighting elements … I just saw all my costumes on my characters and that was really nice.”

“Something Unspoken”

Jena Skalisky directed this play, written by Tennessee Williams. It is about a Southern woman battling insecurities and the complex relationship she has with her live-in  secretary.

“It’s really interesting because you don’t see a lot of power struggle between women in a lot of plays,” Skalisky said. “It goes into this idea that there might be something unspoken between them.”

The idea of two strong female characters stuck out to her, she said, and same-sex relationships between two females is something Williams doesn’t usually do in his plays so she was drawn to that.

“Talley’s Folley” will show at 4 p.m. Friday and 7 p.m. Saturday, while “Something Unspoken” and “Bench on the Edge” will show at 7 p.m. Friday and 4 p.m. Saturday. Tickets are $3 and all shows will be in Kjer Theatre.