Theatre Geek of the Week: Trish Hausmann

Theatre Geek of the Week is an IU Theatre blog series where you can meet some of the students, faculty and supporters of IU’s Department of Theatre, Drama and Contemporary Dance!

Meet Trish Hausmann!

1. What do you do at IU, and why do you do it?

I house manage every performance, stage manage the Premiere Musical every summer, teach entertainment management courses, and mentor stage managers.

2. When did first you realize you were a theatre geek?

When I was 3 years old, my parents were involved in a local community theatre production. My mom needed to do something backstage, so she handed me off to the people working front of house. They put a stack of programs in my hand and told me to give them to people. I’ve been a theatre geek ever since.

3. What is your favorite thing about the theatre, and why?

I love new work. Particularly new musicals, but anything new is great for me. I love the freshness and the spark of creativity that’s part of each new work. Being part of something that’s never been done before is thrilling.

4. What is one project you’ve undertaken at IU that has taught you the most?

Teaching!

Las Vegas Entertainment Management class outside the Blue Man Group Theatre at the Luxor Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas.

5. When no one is watching, what song do you love to dance or sing along with?

It’s usually something from Passing Strange. I was the original workshop stage manager for the show, a couple years before it hit Broadway. I don’t think I’ve ever had more fun in a rehearsal room! “Keys,” “Come Down Now,” and “Love Like That” are my favorites.

6. Who in the theatre world inspires you, and why?

The students. The passion and drive that they have is powerful.  It makes me want to do everything I can to nurture it.

7. Do you have any words of advice for new theatre students?

Try everything! Don’t think that just because you came here to do one thing that another thing isn’t going to grab you. Try out puppetry, acting, circus arts, management, writing, directing, and design. Give something out of your comfort zone a shot. You never know if it’s going to be the thing you end up doing professionally. (It happened to me!)

8. What is one exciting project you are currently working on, or have coming up?

In the spring I’ll be teaching Theme Park Entertainment Management, which includes a trip to Disneyland in May. I’ve been working hard on planning the trip and preparing the class. It’s a lot of work, but so much fun!

9. Would you want to work in the industries covered in the three classes you teach (theme parks, Las Vegas, and cruise ships)?

As much as I love Vegas and cruising, I don’t really want to work in either industry myself. I cruise pretty often for vacation though! In theme parks, I’d want to be a producer with Disney Event Group. They do all the event management, like weddings, conventions, and special groups. They get to help people have magical moments all day. Now that’s something I’d love to do!

If YOU would like to be considered for Theatre Geek of the Week, we invite you to fill out our questionnaire (https://goo.gl/forms/bkJBWuR5KuHgV5yV2).

Come geek out with us!

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H-T REVIEW: Peter Pan catches stars and attention

By Connie Shakalis | H-T Reviewer Oct 28, 2017

wedd_img_0721.jpgWe had better see these Indiana University Department of Theatre, Drama and Contemporary Dance performers while we can at IU’s reasonable ticket prices, because I have a feeling many of them are Broadway-bound.

The cast of “Peter and the Starcatcher” is all adults, but for those 23/4 hours, many of them become, believably, 13 again. These types of roles — broad and Disney-ish — are easy to wreck by actors mugging or upstaging their colleagues. But no one does. Every crazy character shines through and gives us a jolly good time.

The play, written by Rick Elice with music by Wayne Barker, is based on novels by Dave Barry and Ridley Pearson. Barry and Pearson are longtime friends and came up with the idea of a prequel to “Peter Pan” almost simultaneously. Great minds think alike, and besides, what grownup boy doesn’t wonder about how Peter Pan came to be?

Thanks to this imaginative writing team and IU’s talented actors, we learn just who Peter and Wendy, and additional characters, are. We learn how Wendy met Peter, how difficult life can be in an orphanage (”Orphan Rule Number One: Life is meant to be horrible”), how pirate captains rely on their first mates and how Peter got both his first and last names.

And what a good time we have getting educated.

Where were all the 10-year-old boys in the audience? This show surely speaks — bellows — to them. I saw only one or two Friday night but hope herds will attend later. We saw a little boy eating live worms; pirates spitting on people and branding others with a hot iron; a flying, vicious stuffed cat; an officious malapropian pirate captain constantly mispronouncing words (politely corrected by his first mate); boatloads of puns and, of course, many a flatulence joke. (I thought, “Who really thinks these are funny?” then noticed my husband laughing at each one.)

Yes, the show begs for preteen boys, but it’s just as good for us grownups, even though Peter makes it abundantly clear that he “hates, hates, hates” them. I admit my weakness for plots with mix-ups: letters sent to the wrong people, misunderstood messages, etc. In “Peter and the Starcatcher” two trunks, one loaded with power-inducing “star stuff,” get transposed. Finding and relocating the special one becomes the play’s mission, obstructed by brutish (and flatulating) pirates and island natives.

Michael Bayler, as pirate captain Black Stache (as in his copious facial hair), is uproarious. He hates children, loves himself and accidentally cuts off his right hand in his greed. A jewel, he. As sycophant Smee, Black Stache’s first mate, Caleb Curtis scrapes and bows and keeps us laughing (and thinking of people we’ve known?). He’ll do almost anything to please his boss, and he is darling. Lisa Podulka as the out-of-place, well-bred Molly is just right. She plays the quintessential “strong girl” without being predictable or harsh. Excellent.

Joshua M. Smith plays Prentiss, the orphan boy who longs to be the group’s leader — and a lawyer. He charms. IU freshman Connor Starks yanks our heart strings as the ever-hungry Ted. “Pork, sticky pudding,” he dreams. And I felt hungry. Mrs. Bumbrake and Teacher were portrayed well by Jay Hemphill. The former, Wendy’s nanny, is more interested in finding a good man than nurturing her charge, and she is funny. Peter Pan himself is played by a good Trevor Purkiser. Once again, the entire cast had nary a weak link.

Scenic and costume design are by Alana Yurczyk and Courtney Foxworthy, respectively, and their creativity shone. We were startled by a red-eyed, green-toothed, orange-tongued crocodile; felt almost, really, sea sick as the ocean churned on the backdrop; and shared the claustrophobia of the ship’s orphans’ quarters. As the pirates parade as fish-become-mermaids, we were treated to headpieces and bras made of toilet paper, dishwashing gloves, bottle brushes, Bubble Wrap and soap dishes. I love a good prop.

Murray McGibbon’s direction kept us rapt throughout this lengthy production, and Ray Fellman’s music direction added harmonic spunk and atmosphere.

My advice is to see these students now, because Broadway tickets are $110 and more, and that’s where some of them are going.

If You Go

WHAT: “Peter and the Starcatcher” by Rick Elice.

WHO: Indiana University Department of Theatre, Drama and Contemporary Dance.

WHERE: Ruth N. Halls Theater, 275 N. Jordan Ave.

WHEN: 7:30 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday; 2 p.m. Saturday.

TICKETS: $10-20. Call 812-855-1103 or visit theatre.indiana.edu

Reprinted with permission from The Herald Times. See this review and more local arts coverage at heraldtimesonline.com.

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Rocki Hudson: Stage Manager, Center Stage

By Jay Hemphill

Attend IU Theatre’s production of Three Sisters and you will witness talented theatre students breathing life into some of Chekhov’s classic characters.  Someone you won’t see on the stage, someone who is just out of view in the shadows, is the show’s stage manager Rocki Hudson.

Rocki (aka Rochelle) Hudson is a lover of lasagna, pandas, Costa Rican vacations, ice cream (even though she says she is lactose intolerant), and the color purple. Currently a junior at IU, she is majoring in Theater and Drama with a specialty in stage management.  Originally from Indianapolis, Rocki was first introduced to theatre in the 6th grade, when she saw a production of Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat.

When preparing for life after high school, Rocki had not planned on attending IU or studying Theatre and Drama. Inspired by her own personal struggles with dyslexia and her special education teachers, Rocki initially planned to major in Special Education/Primary Care.  However, after participating in a Groups Scholars summer program, her plans changed.  During the six-week program at IU, Rocky took a theatre class.  In the class she was introduced to some MFA and BFA students and worked as an assistant stage manager (ASM) for a production of The Colored Museum.

In her time at IU, Rocki has stage managed for several productions. On the IU Theatre mainstage she has worked as an ASM for The Drowsy Chaperone, Dancing at Lughnasa, and Macbeth. She has also stage managed several independent productions, including The Tempest and These Shining Lives.

When asked to name her favorite IU production, Rocki promptly says, “Three Sisters, definitely.” Continuing on, she explains, “Because I get to play a major role in a mainstage production, with all the responsibilities that entails.  This production has taught me a lot about myself and allowed me to utilize the stage managing skills and knowledge I have acquired at IU.”

Stage managing her first mainstage show hasn’t come without its challenges. “One of the hardest parts about of being a stage manager is balancing all the personalities,” said Hudson. “For example, in Three Sisters there are 17 actors, two musicians, three assistant stage managers, and two directors.  As a stage manager, it is my job to understand everyone’s needs and quirks, and how best to communicate with them.”

As she nears the halfway point of her junior year, Rocki is making plans for her future. After visiting Las Vegas with Trish Hausmann’s class last year, Rocki was drawn to the city and its large scale productions.  Following her graduate, she hopes to relocate to Las Vegas and work at one of the big casino theaters, stage managing for shows like Cirque du Soleil or Blue Man Group.  Graduate school is also in her future.  After taking a gap year, Rocki would like to pursue her MFA in Stage Management at UNLV.

Rocki’s advice for other theatre students, or anyone considering a career in the theatre, “Just go for it. I did.  Someone else saw something in me and said, “You might be good at this.”

Jay Hemphill is a first-year M.F.A. actor who will appear as “Mrs. Bumbreck/Teacher” in the upcoming Peter and the Starcatcher at the end of October in the Ruth N. Halls.
Jay has appeared in productions at Indianapolis’s Phoenix Theatre, Indiana Repertory Theatre, and 2016 IndyFringe Festival, and at Music Theatre Louisville and Clarence Brown Theatre. 
Jay is from Indianapolis, IN.

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Theatre Geek of the Week: Elizabeth Allen

Theatre Geek of the Week is a new IU Theatre blog series where you can meet some of the wonderful students, faculty and supporters of IU’s Department of Theatre, Drama and Contemporary Dance!

Meet Elizabeth Allen!

1.  What do you do at IU, and why do you do it?

I am a stage manager here at Indiana University, and I honestly can’t imagine what I would be doing if I weren’t a stage manager. I have been stage managing since I was in 7th grade. Ever since I realized I could pursue this as a career, I’ve known that I wanted to stage manage professionally. Part of what I love about the program at IU is that there is no graduate stage management program, so undergraduates like me get the opportunity to work on full-scale productions from freshman year on.

 

2.  When did first you realize you were a theatre geek?

I don’t know that I had any light-bulb moment of realizing I’m a theatre geek, but I think definitely the moment I started making puns about Shakespeare was the moment I became one of “those theatre people”. But no specific “Shakespearience” made me realize it.

3.  What is your favorite thing about the theatre, and why?

I think my favorite thing about theatre is its ability to suspend your reality for two hours, where the only focus is on this insanely collaborative and dedicated group of artists pulling a story out of thin air. Our ability as artists to embody these characters and their stories and convey them in a meaningful way in such a fleeting manner is a very unique experience to the theatre. Nothing is more rewarding than pulling together a flawless show where the creatives, cast, and crew are all able to work effortlessly as a team to draw the audience into a two hour story they can never see exactly the same way ever again.

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Elizabeth at the Gaillard Center in Charleston, SC during her apprentice stage management job at Spoleto Festival USA this past summer.

4.  What is one project you’ve undertaken at IU that has taught you the most?

Last year, I worked on The Tempest with Henry Woronicz, whose incredible vision and knowledge of Shakespeare pushed our production to the next level. Our design team created a raked circular boardwalk with two large uneven sand mounds in the middle, and three aerial silks suspended above which were able to freely move stage left and stage right by our actors and fly up and down by our stage crew. Technically, this project was absolutely the most challenging show I’ve had the chance to work on, with safety being an omnipresent concern for the entirety of the production. It was also absolutely one of the most rewarding shows to present to audiences because of those challenges, and the hard work our team put into it. Seeing the final product was breathtaking, and it was such a fantastic show to work on and call.

5.  When no one is watching, what song do you love to dance or sing along with?

I’ve got a really great playlist called “Classic Jams” that I swear by, and will sing along with anytime anywhere. Those songs range from “Rocket Man” to “I’ll Make a Man Out of You” to “Ignition”. So if the song is a jam, I’ll always sing along.

6.  Who in the theatre world inspires you, and why?

I don’t think I have one specific person in the theatre world that inspires me, but I think that the people who inspire me in this industry are the ones who are succeeding in what they are passionate about. Seeing people living their dreams because they put in the work and time is really inspiring to me, because it gives me hope that if I continue to work hard I can achieve my goals as well.

Elizabeth stage managing her 8th Grade production of “Cinderella.”

7.  Do you have any words of advice for new theatre students?

My advice for new theatre students is to get involved as soon as you can. The best thing you can do is throw yourself into your craft and learn as much as you can from the people around you. The sooner you can get involved, the more people you’ll meet, the more you’ll learn from the experiences you have, and the more you can determine what you really want to do moving forward in the theatre.

8.  What is one exciting project you are currently working on, or have coming up?

Currently I’m working on Peter and the Starcatcher, which opens at the end of October. I’m extremely excited for this project, it’s definitely got its unique challenges with such an imaginative and ensemble-focused script.

If YOU would like to be considered for Theatre Geek of the Week, we invite you to fill out our questionnaire (https://goo.gl/forms/bkJBWuR5KuHgV5yV2).

Come geek out with us!

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H-T Review: ‘Three Sisters’ — a play broaching boredom — doesn’t bore

By Connie Shakalis

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Abby Lee, left, portrays middle sister Masha, and Meaghan Deiter plays the maternal eldest sister in the Indiana University Department of Theatre, Drama and Contemporary Dance’s production of Anton Chekhov’s “Three Sisters.”

Anton Chekhov’s four siblings, in his “Three Sisters”, want more than anything to move to cosmopolitan Moscow instead of staying stuck in their current puny town 18 miles from a railroad. So go already! Why don’t they?

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Julia Klinestiver as Natásha

This will always be one of the searing questions the play, written late in Chekhov’s short life, raises. The Prozorov family has the means to go; they have money, intelligence, health, connections. But they remain mired in their various disappointments and unfollowed dreams. The only character who attains her goals is Natasha (Julia Klinestiver), the uneducated local girl who marries upward and into the family.

Unlike members of the Russian aristocracy, which as the play begins has been declining, Natasha has the emotional tools she needs to follow through on dreams. Instead of lounging about sighing, deliberating and reading books or playing violins, she, as a good proletarian, rolls up her lace cuffs and works her plan. Nor is it a detriment to her goals that she steamrolls over anyone in her way.

“Three Sisters” was produced in 1901. When he wrote it Chekhov was suffering from illness, which would soon kill him, and it is gloomy. A central theme is the characters’ boredom with their chosen lives. Middle sister Masha, played movingly by Actors’ Equity member Abby Lee says, “Winter is a bore” and, another time, “I’m bored, bored, bored!” The sisters’ handsome brother, Andrei (Devin May), cautions, “Nobody should get married; it’s boring.” Youngest sister Irina (Tess Cunningham) blurts, “I’m bored and I hate that room.” The baron, played by a very likable Reid Henry, complains about the “God-awful boredom.”

But the production by the Indiana University Department of Theatre, Drama and Contemporary Dance failed to bore me. Chekhov is glorious at pinning down personalities. I have known all these characters, in myself and others. Director Dale McFadden highlighted Chekhov’s fascination with the human condition and kept the pace active on Jeremy Smith’s appropriately sedate brown and tan set, graced by five bare (one “is dead”) birch trees. Katie Cowan Sickmeier dressed the soldiers in military green and the family in sepia-suggestive black, white and brown. An exception, of course, was Natasha’s unfashionably (to the three sisters) garish outfits. Defending her choice of belt color, she says, “It’s not really green. It’s more — greenish.”

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“Officers” Sean Puent, Nicholas Munson, Kevin Tognetti, Reid Henry and Ethan St. Germain

Zack Rocklin-Waltch as Kulýgin

IU freshman Zack Rocklin-Waltch was an endearing Kulygin, convincing himself that he loves his difficult wife, Masha, no matter what. Justino Brokaw showed his range of emotions and made a robust Chebutykin, the military doctor. Nicholas Munson was a rousing Solyony and added spark to the play’s darkness, talking about eating babies and drinking insect innards. Meaghan Deiter, was good as the maternal eldest sister with a continual I-do-too-much headache.

Julia Klinestiver was lovely as Natásha, and we could see why Andrei fell for her, at first. Later he says, “I can’t understand … why I used to (love her).” I wish their courtship scene had been longer, so we could see more of her transition from self-conscious teen to self-entitled matron. Natasha’s character is central to the story, and we need to absorb who she was before she changed. Her character is the contrasting backdrop against which all the other characters act. It is her cohort’s babies (we keep seeing poor Andrei push that stroller around) who will grow to be the new Russia.

Nicholas Jenkins played a kind and engaging Vershinin, and our hearts ached at his departure. Reid Henry was an earnest baron desiring the hand of Irina.

As usual, the Indiana University Theatre, whether or not we have siblings, keeps us thinking.

Reprinted with permission from The Herald Times. See this review and more local arts coverage at heraldtimesonline.com.

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Check Out Chekhov!

By Greer Gerni

Production Dramaturg Greer Gerni

New to Chekhov? Avoided Chekhov’s work after hearing how boring it is? Maybe you’ve heard that nothing happens or maybe you’re wondering how a play written in Russia over one hundred years ago is worth your time.

I’ve heard it all. When I proudly proclaim that Chekhov is my favorite playwright I get plenty of stares and groans. Sometimes people are even shy to tell me that they don’t understand Chekhov for fear of offending me, or worse, sounding stupid.

Let me tell you a secret — I love Chekhov because I don’t understand his work entirely. For me, that’s thrilling. By now, one would think that I have him all figured out. I’ve read Three Sisters at least 100 times (I was recently asked to calculate the figure), I’ve seen at least 10 productions of the play, and have worked as an actor on every single one of the play’s female characters. On top of all of that, I’ve been working as the dramaturg for IU’s production of Three Sisters since Spring 2017. As a dramaturg, it is my job to research and contextualize everything within and around the play that may be useful to the production team. By this point, I am deeply saturated in the world of the play and probably know way too much about subjects such as the Russian educational system at the turn of the twentieth-century, the use of naphtha in early dry-cleaning and cloth preservation, and the distribution of military pensions in 1901. Even after all of this deep research, I still cry every time Tuzenbach tells Irina “I didn’t have any coffee this morning. Ask them to fix me some, will you?” (because I know what happens next and therefore what he may really want to say) and I still smile every time I make a new discovery about the world of the play (because after all this time there is still more to discover).

 An Example of Subtextual Complexities

What happens on the surface of the play: Vershinin moves to town to work as the new Battery Commander. He visits the Prozorov house where three sisters (Olga, Masha, and Irina) and a brother (Andrey) live. The girls exclaim in their excitement that he comes from Moscow (their hometown).

MFA Nicholas Jenkins as Vershinin

Some meaningful context of that simple moment:Vershinin is replacing the position that Sergei Prozorov (the father of Olga, Masha, Irina, and Andrey) held until he died exactly one year ago. Vershinin arrives in town on this anniversary of the death of his predecessor and comes to the home of his children (by invitation of a colleague and friend of the family). He comes from Moscow, with his wife and children, just as Prozorov had years before. Ever since the Prozorov children left Moscow, they have always talked about returning one day. The Vershinin family is the continuation of the very same cycle that brought them out of Moscow. Vershinin is exciting to the sisters because he comes from Moscow, and yet, it would seem that it might be very painful for them to invite him, their father’s replacement, into their home on the anniversary of his death. So why do they do it? And why do they focus on Moscow? Is it an example of how it is easier for them to deal with the past than the present? I think so. But in Chekhov, everything is complex and multidimensional. There can’t be only one meaning to anything.

To add yet another layer of intrigue — Masha falls in love with Vershinin, a man who has replaced her father in their town.

Woah. Suddenly a light moment just became very complex and dramatic. Chekhov packs as much into four acts as is packed into four seasons of your favorite TV drama.

Still not convinced? See for yourself.

So, how might you jump in and fall in love without the decade of research that has brought me to this point? Easy– check it out — without any expectations or preconceived notions of what you think the play should be.

Tess Cunningham (Irina), Meaghan Deiter (Olga), and Abby Lee (Masha)*

Look at the characters of the play beyond the setting of the play and the text that they say. Each character has a deep complex story to tell and their existence together and their relationships to each other create further complications.

Olga’s final line of the play “If only we knew” says it all — like life, Chekhov’s plays are complicated, but an adventure worth experiencing.

* Abby Lee appears by special permission of Actors’ Equity Association.

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Observing a Curious Incident

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By James Nelson

“I see everything,” says 15-year old Christopher Boone in Simon Stephen’s theatrical adaptation of Mark Haddon’s book The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time. Christopher is looking out a train window, and unlike the average person who glances and takes in a quick image of what they’re looking at, Christopher can count and describe every single object he sees in the distance: 19 cows, 32 houses, 3 different types of clouds… until the sheer act of taking in so much sensation overwhelms him and he wets himself on the train.

For a director, “seeing everything” is a sort of impossible ability you strive for in the rehearsal room. As you watch your play take shape, you want to notice every single choice that’s being made, and you want to imagine every potential choice that could be made. At the same time, you’re trying to monitor the overall effectiveness of your work, surveying the tone, pace, staging, etc. Of course you can’t actually “see everything”, but you can’t afford to stop looking, just in case that perfect piece of untapped theatre gold is waiting for you to discover it.

Also, for a director, it’s an absolutely fascinating experience to be in the rehearsal room for a play that you aren’t directing. Which is what I, along with my directorial colleagues Liam and Rachel, got to do over the last couple months for the Indiana Repertory Theatre production of The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-TimeWe took part in an ‘observership’ (arranged between IU and IRT), which meant that the three of us drove up to IRT together, sat in on a few rehearsals over the span of a few weeks, and, well, observed.

Walking in to somebody else’s rehearsal room means you’re missing a lot of context: how the production has been introduced to the team, the initial discussions around the table that preceded the work, and what mistakes and discoveries have already been made in previous rehearsals, just to name a few. Also, you don’t have a clear sense of where the production is going because it’s not your production. So you’re simply watching one cross-section of a rehearsal process in a vacuum.

During the first rehearsal I observed, director Risa Brainin was refining a particularly interesting sequence, in which the character of Christopher travels to London all by himself, despite his fear of strangers and difficulty understanding transit systems. In this sequence, the ensemble of ten actors has to represent whole crowds of faceless people, all moving around the space quickly with different paths, and resetting frequently to populate the next environment that Christopher reached. It was a flurry of activity that was meant to represent the overstimulation that Christopher felt traversing the world.

While working the sequence, Risa would stop frequently, adjust one or two pieces of business, restart at the beginning, and run it again. The actors would often chime in their suggestions for how to make their own choreography more efficient, knowing full well that Risa couldn’t possibly have her eye on all ten of them at once. Even though I hadn’t seen the rest of the play, I could tell right away what the context of this scene was, and what Risa’s “rules” of her world were: this was going to be a play in which the actors worked as an ensemble to create a stylized reality, with Christopher being our lens to the world.

Where I saw the “director’s eye” most clearly in watching Risa’s work was in the direction of focus. At all times, despite the flurry of activity across the whole stage, my eye was clearly drawn to one event at a time: Christopher bumping into somebody, Christopher losing his pet rat, Christopher getting overwhelmed and curling into a ball while looming figures surrounded him. The actors knew when to draw focus and when to yield it, and their actions were very carefully arranged so that in the orchestra of movement, we could still hear a very clear melody. It was very impressive, focused, and complex work.

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Christopher (Mickey Rowe) makes his journey to London in The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time. (Photo: Alexis Morin via Indiana Repertory Theatre)

We returned to the theatre the following week to watch a few hours of a technical rehearsal. The show is intensely tech-heavy, so it was a slow-moving process. The floor is lit from above along painted gridlines to isolate different areas of the space, and the setting immediately changes from scene to scene. The sound design is very integrated with the action of the play, and actors time their movements and lines to sound cues. Projections are timed with lines of dialogue as well. Because of the sheer amount of technical precision the show requires, we only saw the director work through less than 15 actual minutes of show time in the three hours of tech that we observed. Every last detail was being worked out: such as the way in which an actor laid a beach towel across a table so that it would take as little time as possible.

A few days after we sat in on tech, we attended the first preview of The Curious Incident, and it was exciting to see all the work culminate in an actual performance. As I watched the play, it was cool to see little details that had been worked in to the show during the rehearsals we watched. For example, on our first day, one of the actors randomly pulled out a Scottish accent for one of her small characters, much to the surprise of the leading actor (who broke out laughing in response). Sure enough, Scottish Lady became part of the finished product, like many other pieces that had been layered on in the few hours of rehearsal that we’d watched.

Even though our observership only entailed a few rehearsals and a performance, it was definitely a great way to see a professional director in process, including how Risa communicated with the actors, ran the rehearsal room, and worked toward creating a cohesive experience for her audience. It was an educational and exciting opportunity.

And, as an added bonus, I got to spend quite a few hours in the car hanging out with Liam and Rachel, who are the finest colleagues a director could ask for!

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The MFA directors unite! (From left to right: 2nd year James Nelson, 3rd year Liam Castellan, 1st year Rachel Hoey)

James Nelson is a second-year MFA directing candidate. He will be directing IU Theatre’s production of MACHINAL in Spring 2018 in the Wells-Metz Theatre.

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