I was lucky enough to see two student directed works recently at the Mayfield Secondary School Pre-Sears Festival: The Bright Blue Mailbox Suicide Note and Tuna Fish Eulogy. The concept is pretty interesting – Here in Ontario we have the Sears One-Act Drama Festival that is divided into District/Regional/ All Ontario competitions. Winners from each level advance to the next. But at Mayfield they take it one step further. They had SIX student directed plays compete (with public/private adjudications) for the two slots Mayfield would take to their District fest.
I had the chance to speak to the directing teams of both plays. Here is Part One!
Lindsay: Alright, hello everyone. This is Lindsay, and I am very proud to be at Mayfield Secondary tonight to see two of my plays student-directed by two stellar teams. So first over here, introduce yourselves.
Laura: I’m Laura McLauchlan.
Theresa: And I’mTheresa Gerrow.
Lindsay: Yup, and they directed Tuna Fish Eulogy. And over here we have…
Female 3: I’m.
Female 4: Racquel Russell.
Lindsay: And they directed the Bright Blue Mailbox Suicide Note. And what’s so fascinating and wonderful is that these guys are just two teams of six plays at Mayfield. What they’re doing is a sort of a pre-Sears Event where six plays…and they’re all student-directed, are they not?
Lindsay: Oh, that’s so fantastic. And then the plays are being adjudicated tonight, and two will go on to the district festival. So first I’m going to talk to… Ladies, tell me why you chose Tuna Fish Eulogy.
Laura: You want to start?
Theresa: Well, we personally really, really liked the…
Lindsay: The ladder format?
Theresa: …unique format.
Theresa: We had never seen anything like that.
Laura: Ever, yeah.
Theresa: And it just kind of drew us in because it was so different and we’re always up for a challenge.
Theresa: So we really, really wanted to be challenged by that and gave it our best shot.
Lindsay: Yeah, go ahead.
Laura: It’s just so technical to, I mean like the overlapping and the coral work, and we thought it would be one of the things that we could really do to test ourselves…
Laura: …as directors and as actors…
Theresa: Absolutely, yeah.
Laura: …to be able to deal with so many different people, of varying ages as well and not just teenagers in a play.
Lindsay: That’s right.
Laura: So we thought that’d be a crazy challenge and we were up for it, and we said, “Hey, why not?” you know?
Lindsay: So what were rehearsals like? What did you have to do to get your actors to a level where they could speak so fluently the overlapping dialogue?
Theresa: Well, first we tried to get them to learn all of their lines right before Christmas break, like right off the bat…
Theresa: …so that after that we could just work on blocking…
Theresa: …the whole time, and then they would have their lines so ingrained into them that the blocking would come more naturally.
Theresa: And we always tried to ask our actors what they thought of the setting and what they felt most comfortable doing, because we didn’t want to dictate how they should be playing their characters.
Lindsay: Very nice. Where was a lot of lot of nice choices. Cherry was just like because, you know, I know the end, so I like…
Lindsay: …“Oh, nice. Ooh, nice. Oh, nice.” You know, one line I just went, “Yes, that’s right.
Lindsay: You know, just in terms of fleshing out characters. When you have something, well, this is so technically demanding of you, it’s really easy to lose characterization, and I think that that was very nicely balanced.
Lindsay: You feel good? You feel proud of what you’ve done?
Laura: So much. So, I mean, like it took so much rehearsal…
Laura: But after the fact, it was definitely, definitely worth it in every respect. I mean, I remember our first homework assignment we gave our cast was “What happened to Albert, guys?”
Laura: Give us a written scenario when you come back of what you think happened to him.
Lindsay: Well, didn’t you email me and ask me what happened?
Lindsay: …and I said, “Well, you tell me what happened first, and then I’ll let you know what I think.”
Lindsay: So that was just great. Okay, thank you so much.