This story originally appeared in the spring 2014 Harker Quarterly.
Three Harker seniors made their directorial debuts at this year’s Student Directed Showcase in January. The show features three one-act plays directed by Harker students, the culmination of years of hard work in Harker’s Conservatory and one very intensive yearlong class, offered by Laura Lang-Ree to seniors through an application process. The plays featured in this year’s production were “Beyond Therapy,” directed by Ian Richardson, “The Case of Alex Hansen,” directed by Namrata Vakkalagadda, and “The Wonderful World of Dissocia,” directed by Shenel Ekici.
“Being a SDS director was really a goal I had for myself around freshman-sophomore year,” said Richardson. “The idea of directing a show using the talents of your fellow classmates really drew me to the program. Also, just being in control of your own show, having your own interpretation, blocking, lights, sound and stage for your choice of play was just too good to pass up.”
The directors of each play are heavily involved in every step of the process from the planning to the premiere. All of the elements necessary for the play to be a success, from auditioning and choosing the cast to managing props and costuming, fall under the director’s purview.
One lesson Vakkalagadda learned was that unexpected circumstances are part of the process. “No matter how much planning is done, I always had to be open to sudden changes and twists and turns, but by doing so, I was also able to take in so many new and exciting ideas I may not have had the chance to experience if I was solely set on my initial plan,” she said.
She also learned that often it is better for directors to trust the people they’ve chosen. “Being in charge does not necessarily mean controlling every aspect,” she said. “In reality, by letting my cast come to the conclusions I had come to on my own and wanted them to finally come to, we were able to grow together and make the show all of ours rather than just mine.”
Despite the frequent challenges and months of hard work, the students found the experience useful and fulfilling. “I really learned that you stick to what you love, no matter the hardships,” said Richardson. “Especially when directing a show, it’s all up to you and what you make of it.”