Directing Production

A play from two perspectives: Student-director & Playwright

Written by Lindsay Price

Episode 185: A play from two perspectives: Student-director & Playwright

At Theatrefolk we have a play by a playwright who for many years chose to be anonymous. When a student director (after winning his state festival!) asked to be put in touch with the playwright, it started the ball rolling to this podcast. We have the student director talking about the play Anonymous and what it’s like to be a student director. And the playwright, a teacher, revealing her identity. Listen in for these two different perspectives.

Show Notes

Episode Transcript

Welcome to the Drama Teacher Podcast brought to you by Theatrefolk – the Drama Teacher Resource Company.

I’m Lindsay Price.

Hello! I hope you’re well. Thanks for listening!

This is Episode 185 and you can find any links to this episode in the show notes which are at Theatrefolk.com/episode185.

All right. Are you ready for this one? I am so ready to share this one with you.

A little back story – here at Theatrefolk at the Theatrefolk Global Headquarters in the official catalogue of plays – why would we have an unofficial one? I don’t know. But, in our catalogue of plays, we have a play called Anonymous which we’ve had for a number of years. The play is about anonymity.

To that end, the playwright decided that they wanted to be anonymous, too. So, it’s the play Anonymous by Anonymous. That was what the playwright wanted – to kind of go with the theme and just keep it all about that whole concept of a teenager trying to get out of that box of being a face in the crowd and being an individual. There’s a link to Anonymous in the show notes and I’m also going to talk about it a bit after the conversation. Of course, we respected that. There’s no problem with that whatsoever.

Well, this year, a student decided he really wanted to do this play. His teacher didn’t want to do it, though. So, he chose this play and then he had to convince his teacher to let him direct the play. And then, he went on and did some pretty amazing things with it.

I won’t share them all. I can’t tell everything upfront, right? Otherwise, why would you listen to the conversation?

That experience, he contacted us and let us know, and then he said he wanted to speak to the playwright which this person had never done because… anonymous! But that conversation led the ball rolling to this podcast and this very moment and a couple of other things which you will hear about.

Again, I can’t tell you everything! We’ve got to get to the conversation, man! So, we’re going to talk to the playwright first and then we’re going to talk to Kyle, the student director, and you’re going to get a play from two different perspectives – from the playwriting side and the playwright has also directed the piece so from that perspective and then from the student’s side and the student experience approaching a play.

So, let’s get to it.

LINDSAY: Hello, everybody!

Usually, the first thing I do when I introduce a podcast is, first of all, I say their name and then I say, “Where are you in the world?” and this one’s just going to be a little bit different. We are going to say who the person I’m talking to is but just in a little bit.

First of all, I’m going to just say hi.

ALLISON: Hi! Hi Theatrefolk!

LINDSAY: Hello!

Second of all, tell people where you are in the world.

ALLISON: I am in North Bay, Ontario, Canada.

LINDSAY: Yes, Canada rocks. Canada rocks. Do you guys still have a lot of snow? You must have some.

ALLISON: We do have quite a bit of snow but it’s also been a rainy kind of winter so it’s a little bit of ice, a little bit of snow, it’s truly Canadian this time of year.

LINDSAY: Oh, there’s nothing funner than riding on a road that has been rained and now is ice.

ALLISON: Yeah, we’ve had – I think – in the last two weeks, something like three or four snow days. So, a lot of people will probably be jealous of our situation at the moment.

LINDSAY: I know what it is. It’s that you have the snow days and then it’s when you have to make it up and the weather is nice.

ALLISON: Absolutely. Exactly.

LINDSAY: So, we have a play in our catalogue. It is called Anonymous. For the longest time, the playwright has requested that the name of the playwright remain anonymous. Of course, I am speaking to that playwright who is here on the podcast with me.

The first thing I want to know, before we get into who you are and what you do, let’s just start with this play, Anonymous – why you wrote it and why was it important that you not be associated with it? Why did you write it?

ALLISON: Why did I write it? It was probably at a time when I felt like there were certain messages that a lot of teenagers felt, that a lot of teenagers could relate to, that everybody kind of had a story – as we all do – but that there were some sort of similarities amongst teenagers that often feel alone and feel isolated within their own sort of selves. You know, at some point, they build that support group, they build those close-friend bonds, and realize that they’re not alone – that we all have our stories, that it’s just a matter of time to find those people who we feel comfortable to share it with. And so, that was kind of the main driving force. I sort of had some of those kinds of things batting around in my head a lot.

LINDSAY: And then, connecting that, because I know that when you directed it first of all, you didn’t associate your name with it then either. Why did you think it was important that the playwright remain anonymous at that time?

ALLISON: It’s interesting. You know, I chose partly because, in the script itself, none of the characters have names. We used pronouns for everyone. The main characters are Me and You and Her and She. The group of all those other characters were Them. Sometimes, that’s maybe how we all feel – that it’s Me versus Them. But it just sort of made sense to talk about generalities – all of us as Them.

And so, at the time, it made sense that I would stay anonymous. There’s themes of anonymity throughout the play. The title, obviously, came to be. And then, it just made sense that I would keep names off of it to remain anonymous – to keep that Me, You, Her, She – and then the script Anonymous was written anonymously.

LINDSAY: It’s sort of the complete package of it, right? It’s just the focus. It’s just the focus on the script rather than anywhere else – and the story that the script is trying to tell.

ALLISON: Right. I mean, the main character is – as many of us can relate to – you know, we have some way of expressing ourselves so it might be through writing a play. It might be in the script, in the play’s main character. She’s a visual artist. She’s able to paint and draw and express who she is through some sort of art form, but she goes through a long stretch of trying to figure out, does she want to share her art?

You know, it is an art that you can just keep to yourself and to share it meant giving up a little bit more of who she was and, obviously, in the script itself, that builds some of the conflict of her story but all of us can relate to having some sort of art form that we use maybe to express ourselves and I think I was clearly using playwriting as my way of expressing just like my character at the same time was using her visual art.

LINDSAY: Part two of this interview, this particular podcast has two parts where we are talking to the playwright and then I’m also going to talk to a student director of Anonymous who had a really amazing journey – SPOILER! Hang on for that!

After his experience with the play, he wanted to be put in touch with the playwright. You and I, we had a conversation about whether or not we would do that which then led to a conversation about, well, is it time for this play to no longer be anonymous? And you decided yes. Why did you decide that?

ALLISON: I mean, it’s partly the message of the play. You know, here I am, expressing myself through some sort of piece of artwork, sharing it with other people, and I was doing that but I really wasn’t in some ways. I wasn’t connected to it. I mean, I am very connected to it, but I wasn’t connected to it in that way that, when you share a piece of art, especially theatre where you’re having a collaborative kind of experience with your audience, you’re having this obvious experience with, in this particular case, a student-directed piece working with his peers. It feels like, if they’re willing to put themselves out there and to own who they are and their story, that maybe it’s right for Anonymous to take off the mask, so to speak, and to stop being so anonymous about it all.

LINDSAY: Well, then I’m going to call you by name! I am now speaking to Allison Green.

Hello, Allison!

ALLISON: Hello, Lindsay! Hello!

LINDSAY: Allison, tell everybody what you do for a living.

ALLISON: I now am a high school Drama teacher in Northern Ontario. I travel from North Bay down to my fantastic high school, Almaguin Highland Secondary School in South River. We are far in the north. Yeah, I’m a high school Drama teacher. I have though had a life before teaching. I was a theatre designer, stage manager, and I dabbled in some playwriting.

LINDSAY: How long have you been in education? It’s been a while.

ALLISON: Yeah, it’s been almost twelve years now. that I’ve been teaching. I moved up back home, up north. I grew up here but I moved back north, almost exactly when Anonymous was published, actually.

It’s been almost ten years of living back up here and being a full-time teacher. Before that, I was kind of doing the theatre thing – traveling with plays and I worked in Berlin for a stretch; I worked in Toronto, obviously; but now I’ve settled down as a high school teacher here in the north.

LINDSAY: What is it about, after all of that experience, what is it about teaching and teaching Drama that really speaks to you?

ALLISON: Maybe every teacher says that they love working with kids.

But, for me, it’s actually challenging kids. I like to give kids a space to really push themselves and to share their ideas, to share their voices, and there’s no better place for that for me than in a Drama classroom where I can put some kids into situations where they can feel empathy and they can solve problems while working together. I don’t think that there’s a better job for me than to push kids in that way – to help inspire kids that way.

And then, I also get the benefits of a fairly strong voice in my rather small school. I have a really creative atmosphere. Though we’re a small rural school in Northern Ontario, our kids want to be in the arts and they want to succeed in sports and they’re doing all of it and I kind of got really lucky with that kind of school.

LINDSAY: Yeah, I’ve done a couple of workshops at Allison’s school and I would say that’s the thing that always struck me – the brightness. It was really engaging… Your group is really engaged.

ALLISON: Yeah, they are, and I think maybe, in some ways, as much as we can look at small rural schools – all across Canada, frankly – at the idea of we sometimes feel really alone, right? I’m one Drama teacher in that school. I don’t have another associate to work with which is often the case, I think, for Drama teachers across Canada.

LINDSAY: Oh, it’s everywhere, you know.

ALLISON: It’s everywhere, right?

LINDSAY: Yeah, we talk about that a lot.

ALLISON: Yeah, you’re all by yourself but, at least for me, I have these kids who are so open-minded and they want to try stuff and that’s exciting. I mean, I get paid for that which is pretty sweet.

LINDSAY: So, we have this experience with Anonymous, with the student director, but you also decided to – this is the perfect timing, this is the perfect timing for all of this – you also decided to return to Anonymous and you directed it this year.

ALLISON: I am. I’m in the process of directing it again, actually. I did it the first time and I’ve changed my whole sense of style with it this time. Yeah, I’m doing it a second time now.

LINDSAY: How is it coming to life for you? Just theatrically, how are you staging it?

ALLISON: This time, it is absolutely barebones which I think a lot of Theatrefolk stuff, really, Drama teachers sometimes need to have that freedom. And so, this time, I’ve decided to go with nothing onstage. I think we’re using something like eight to ten stools in the play and then we’re doing everything physically.

There’s a scene with a teetertotter in it. There’s a square dance in the play. I’m just going all physical with it which has been a real challenge because I am obviously connected to the words of the play. And so, to kind of accentuate all those words that mean so much to me and these characters that I love with all movement has been really refreshing. It gives me, in some ways, a proof that you don’t need a whole lot. If you’ve got a pretty good story and you’ve got kids willing to take some chances, they’ll try it and they’ve been really excited about it.

LINDSAY: Just because this is something that comes up a lot, I’ll just do a teeny tiny tangent just because on the nature of getting students to explore physicality and how sometimes with teenagers that is a tough thing to do. How are you encouraging your students to take those risks with physical action?

ALLISON: You know, I’m finding it really interesting. Over the last few years, I’ve focused a little bit more on physical movement. In fact, some of my Grade 9 and 10 classes, instead of starting with my voice unit, I’ve been really focusing on a physical kind of teambuilding and I don’t know if it’s because kids, in some ways, are super connected while not being connected at all physically. So, they don’t mind it if you give them a safe kind of starting place. I’ve been doing things.

With Anonymous, I’ve done simple things like, you know, “Without anything, could you guys create the feeling of what a teetertotter is?” for example. You know, I put them in a group of about six, maybe. It’s amazing to watch them. They’ll first start to be like, “Okay…” and they’ll figure out what that shape might look like. And then, I say, “Concentrate on the movement of what that feels like.”

Then, all of a sudden, you start getting these actors who are very quick to just sort of say, “I’ll pick you up.” I’m like, “Oh, okay, as long as we’re safely picking each other up, I’m not going to stop you!” and they go for it which I don’t know if it’s just suddenly giving them the opportunity for having a safe space with a safe group, you know, we would do all the original teambuilding stuff first and then, yeah, letting them explore it in very abstract kind of ways and they’ve developed some stuff that I’m glad that they developed them because it could have been a stumbling block for me as a director.

LINDSAY: I love that! Well, you really hit the nail on the head. If they feel safe, it’s that whole notion of creativity, right? If there are barriers, they can actually do more interesting things which sounds weird but it’s safety lends itself.

ALLISON: Yeah, absolutely! If you set up the right boundaries and the right sort of “these are the parameters that we’re going to work in” and then just let them have the… They like to push the boundaries, right? That’s certainly what kids like to do. But, if you give them a safe boundary that they can go towards, yeah, I’m finding that they’re not balking. They’re not balking.

LINDSAY: In doing this play another time – other than being really connected to it – what has struck you about the response? Do you find that, twelve years later, are students sort of still in the same spot? Have we gotten past this? Are we all feeling anonymous?

ALLISON: It’s fascinating. You know, the scenes that the kids love – and, you know, you’ll always find that a cast will love certain scenes that sometimes completely surprise you – what I’m loving is that they’re loving the same scenes.

You know, I find my group – at the moment, anyway, and I can’t speak for everybody but at least this particular group – I’m finding the girls are much more willing to take on saying that this is who we are, that we’re going to share in this.

There’s a scene about being every teenage girl, you know, and what do girls think when they’re in gym class, for example. I’m finding those girls are coming out very, very strong which might be a little bit of a difference and yet it might just be the confidence – maybe – has changed in the last decade or so. The first time, I think they all knew the message. They were all thinking it and feeling it. But, now, they’re owning it. They’re owning it a lot more.

They also seem to like some of the more poetic pieces. I’m finding that they like to play around with words and poetry a little bit more this time which I don’t know exactly what that’s about. It might be more of a consciousness and just the experience of hearing and seeing more spoken word. Like, they have more access to that, maybe, than ten, twelve years ago. Maybe. But the scenes that they love are still the scenes that they love. You know, every kid going into a gym class has certain feelings; going into a guidance counselor appointment; liking a boy or a girl – I think those are universal.

LINDSAY: Well, it doesn’t change either.

ALLISON: No.

LINDSAY: No, because that’s a question I get all the time. “How can you write for high schools?” Because I remember what it felt like and that never changes.

ALLISON: No, it really doesn’t. It really doesn’t and I’m constantly saying, you know, as a teacher – and I think all of us do this – I’m constantly saying, “Oh, I know I’m the old lady in the room, but this is how it was.” They go, “Oh, yeah, Miss. It’s the same. It’s the same.”

LINDSAY: As we wrap this up here, you’ve had a lot of people this time around. You’ve been directing it and it’s been anonymous and people have been asking you, “Who wrote this play?” How does that feel this time around to sort of have that questioning or maybe that you want to say?

ALLISON: Yeah.

LINDSAY: You had it adjudicated and you told the adjudicator that it was you.

ALLISON: Yeah, I did, and part of it just seems to make sense. It’s just right. It happens all the time with the kids that I’m working with. They obviously want to know. I think it’s just because they like to know a secret – maybe. But, yeah, getting it from adults, too. I don’t know if it’s more of a sense of people wanting to know a big secret.

But, for me, it’s just a curiosity thing and I’ve struggled with it lately where people have asked or, you know, our student with such a great success wanted to speak to me and it was a great feeling to be able to share the fact that he felt a certain way about the play and really wanted to tell the person who wrote it that it meant something and that was a great eye-opening kind of moment.

And then, yeah, the exact same week, an adjudicator who had just been reading the script asked me if I knew who had written it. And so, yeah, I let them know that, for not very much longer, I’d be staying anonymous but that he could know that it was me. It’s different. You know, it’s different to talk about a play that you can just say that you love or you can say that it’s meant a whole lot to me as a writer as well.

LINDSAY: See, now we have to have the conversation where we go, “All right, is Allison Green going on the anonymous? Is that going to be on the cover now? You’re going to get a copy of Anonymous with Allison Green on it?”

ALLISON: Oh, I never even thought of it! Of course, I have the copies of it which are anonymous. Wow! Yeah, I guess! I don’t know! That’s fun to think about though, isn’t it?

LINDSAY: You think about that and you let us know if you want to, like, change that over.

ALLISON: Wow! So, there’d be two editions!

LINDSAY: There would be two editions.

ALLISON: Someone could have the anonymous Anonymous and then the Allison Green Anonymous. Wow.

LINDSAY: That’s exciting.

I have to say, too, Allison, you were in Among Friends and Clutter, right? In high school?

ALLISON: I was! I was in Among Friends and Clutter in Grade 11, I think.

LINDSAY: I think you were Joanne? I think you were in one of the first other productions – other than the one that I did in 90-blah.

ALLISON: Yeah, it would be the mid-90’s, yeah.

LINDSAY: Yeah, we’ve gone back a-ways and it’s been a real treat. It’s been a real pleasure to have this conversation with you and just sort of, well, this play is in our catalogue because we love it, you know, and to be able to share it and also to be able to share that I think it is a good time to sort of come out and say, “It’s Allison Green! Allison Green wrote Anonymous.”

ALLISON: Yeah, it’s mine. It’s mine.

LINDSAY: Awesome!

Thank you so much for talking to me today!

ALLISON: Oh, thanks for chatting with me! It’s been great!

LINDSAY: Okay. So, now, I am speaking with Kyle Vincent.

Hello, Kyle!

KYLE: Hello!

LINDSAY: Tell everybody where in the world you are.

KYLE: I am from Paragould, Arkansas.

LINDSAY: Awesome. Nice, nice!

We’re talking about Anonymous. First of all, you’ve had an amazing journey with this show, I think. You think so, too?

KYLE: Oh, I would have to agree.

LINDSAY: Very cool. Not only did you student direct this play, not only did you win state with your play, you also got a ton of scholarship money – I think that’s wonderful!

KYLE: Yes, over $72,000.

LINDSAY: That’s amazing! I saw it was for directing and set design. Is that what your intention is for college?

KYLE: I think I’m going to major in Theatre Studies so that’ll kind of cover it all.

LINDSAY: Very cool. That’s awesome! That’s the end. We have told the end. But, now, we have to go back to the beginning.

Talk about why you chose this play. Why did it speak to you?

KYLE: Well, how I ran across this play, it was kind of an accident. We were thinking about what we were going to do next because the one before we did Anonymous, we did Emotional Baggage.

LINDSAY: Oh! Very nice!

KYLE: I was just kind of scrolling through Theatrefolk because that’s where we had found Emotional Baggage and I found Anonymous and I read the appraisal and I loved it because I had a few personal connections that I could relate to this show.

Originally, I wanted Miss Dial to direct it – our theatre director – and I wanted to perform in it. But she absolutely hated the show when I first showed it to her. And so, we went over the summer and I kept bugging her about it and I had to work a summer show and I did lighting design for Beauty and the Beast for community theatre. She was up there and I asked her, “Miss Dial, I still think we should really do Anonymous.” She goes, “Do you think so?” I said, “Yeah.” She goes, “Well, why don’t you just direct it?” That’s how I got to direct Anonymous.

LINDSAY: Have you ever directed before?

KYLE: I have not.

LINDSAY: That was a pretty big thing she put in your lap then!

KYLE: Yes.

LINDSAY: So, you know, there’s two ways to go with that, right? Either she says you direct and you go, “Oh, no, no, no! I don’t want to do that!” but she says, “You direct it,” and you go, “Okay, I’m going to take that challenge.”

What made you take that challenge?

KYLE: Because I felt like there was a certain way that I wanted it done. And so, if I were to perform in it, I wouldn’t be able to have that vision. And so, she gave me the power to direct it – or the opportunity to direct it – so I could put my vision and how I felt the story should be conveyed and that’s why I took the challenge of directing.

LINDSAY: See? You’re talking like a director. Any time you use the word “vision,” I think that is the key to directing a show and being a director. You’ve got to have something – a manner in which you’re going to interpret the script.

So, what was your vision for Anonymous?

KYLE: My vision for Anonymous, it’s hard to put into words. It’s very plain. My vision for Anonymous was just stick with the theme of anonymity because the characters are Me, You, Her, She. Of course, the characters make up Them and they’re all high school students.

And so, my costume choices were to have them in white button-up, black tie, black skirt or pants. We just kept a very simple set. Everything was done with benches – that would have been the lunch room, the classrooms, and then we had the park. And then, we also did these really cool things with lighting. I was also the lighting designer. I love lighting.

We got to do these things where it’s like you’re in our leading character’s mind and everything that everyone is saying is kind of going through her mind. And so, she’s pulled out by the spotlight and everyone is circling around her – like all these thoughts are just flying through her head from what everyone is saying in school.

LINDSAY: That sounds very visual.

KYLE: Yes.

LINDSAY: That’s good. I think that that’s important.

It was interesting, I was talking to the playwright about the script and about how she just directed it and she’s very attached to the words but the physicality and the visual-ness of the script is what she focused on this time so it’s really interesting to hear you sort of hone in on the same thing – the importance of visually telling the story.

How was it working with your peers? I always find it’s an interesting thing when you’re a student director because you’re one of them but you are also in-charge.

KYLE: It was nice being the troupe president to start out with.

LINDSAY: Oh, you’re kind of in-charge already!

KYLE: Yeah, but I was still really nervous about casting because I don’t like people being mad at me. I’m a people-pleaser. But, since I had what I wanted everything to be like ahead of time, in my head, it made it so much easier to cast. When I was watching people audition, everything just kind of fell into place.

Luckily, for me, it made that casting decision fairly easy. There’s always a few that’s like, “Oh, they could be good!” but then you just finally make out a list and you stick with it. I’m very happy with the choices I made in casting.

But one of the most difficult things for me was keeping everybody’s attention and getting everybody to rehearsals at the same time. That was one of my big pet peeves.

LINDSAY: Did you have a stage manager to kind of help wrangle them?

KYLE: No.

LINDSAY: See, there you go! For next time, it’s like, “That’s the stage manager’s job,” so that you can kind of hang back a little bit. You make them do all the wrangling.

KYLE: That would be really nice.

LINDSAY: I think that it’s very clear that you had that vision. You know how you wanted the set, the scenery to look, and the costumes to look, and the actors to be. Sometimes, things don’t always work out with plan as you’re moving through the rehearsal process. How did you deal with that? Did anything come up where it didn’t go the way that you had pictured or envisioned in your head?

KYLE: Didn’t go the way I pictured it in my head…

LINDSAY: Maybe it all went the way that you pictured it in your head.

KYLE: Oh, I was really pleased with how the show came out as a whole. But there were a few weird spots. Like, we had this classroom scene, we’d go back to where they were in kindergarten almost. To show the passage of time, more dads would come up for Parent Day and talk about their careers. And so, the main classroom would go off and these dads would just walk into a spotlight. One of our notes at state competition was “spotlight dads – why?” And so, I think I’m going to have to take them out.

LINDSAY: Well, it’s always going to be purposeful, right?

KYLE: Yes.

LINDSAY: Whether it’s lighting or set or costume or whatever. As long as it’s purposeful, then you can do whatever you want. I like that though – “spotlight dads – why?”

How long did you work on it?

KYLE: Before prelims, we had about four or five weeks, I believe. No, we had about six weeks.

LINDSAY: Did you feel that was enough time?

KYLE: Oh, starting out, it felt like it was plenty of time. And then, the day of prelims, we showed up at 6 o’clock at our school to run through it one more time because we finally had everyone there. And so, I was on edge.

LINDSAY: Well, did you mean 6 o’clock in the morning or 6 o’clock at night right before your show?

KYLE: 6 o’clock in the morning.

LINDSAY: Oh, man! Yes, this is the only time everybody can be together at 6 in the morning. I’m sure everybody was real happy about that. Hey, that’s what you’ve got to do! That’s what you have to do!

KYLE: I gave them a schedule at the very beginning and people still didn’t show up. That’s what we had to do in the end.

LINDSAY: That’s what you’ve got to do. If you want it to work, then it’s like, “Look, you’re not going to show up on my time? You’re going to show up when I say.”

So, your teacher who didn’t like the show when she first read it, what was her response after seeing how you brought it to life?

KYLE: She really liked the connection that I had with the show. Later, she told me that that’s why she had let me direct this. And then, the show slowly started growing on her and she liked seeing what I did with it and how far I went with it because she would give me the keys to our auditorium and just let me go out and do our thing.

She didn’t see it until pretty much week of prelims.

LINDSAY: First of all, that’s very trusting. I think that’s great that she was able to take something that, even if she didn’t like it, just seeing your connection, I think that is pretty great.

So, you did prelims. How many levels? Did you just go to state or did you do a preliminary performance and succeeded in that and then you went to state?

KYLE: Yeah, prelims is the first thing that we really do as a troupe function because everything else is school-oriented. So, our one-act prelim is where we go to compete to either showcase or compete at state. We’ve never done either of those.

So, this year, when we performed Anonymous, first of all, it was really on edge because we were right at the 45-minute mark so we had to cut one scene and go straight to the end and that got us right to the 45-minute mark. And so, we’d almost went overtime. But then, we got all superiors and the highest scores from prelims. So, that made us eligible to showcase at state and compete at state to represent the State of Arkansas in one-act competition.

LINDSAY: How did that feel? How did that feel to going for a troupe that you’ve never done this before to reach a height like that?

KYLE: It still doesn’t feel real, honestly. All this stuff, we’ve come this far and I’m still like, “Has this happened? Is this really because of the show that I directed and what we’re a part of right now?” It’s very surreal, I’d have to say. I don’t know. It’s really hard to describe.

LINDSAY: No, for sure. It’s nothing you’ve ever experienced before.

KYLE: For our troupe, I kind of tried to instil something. Leave a legacy. That was just really cool to me about how far we’ve come and when I said that we’d leave a legacy at the very beginning of the year.

LINDSAY: Well, I think that’s a good thing. That’s an important thing because that’s something that can actually, you know, for every subsequent troupe member as they come in and as they leave, you know, that’s something you can always do. You can always leave a legacy.

Are you going to internationals? Are you going to the International Thespian Festival?

KYLE: Yes, International Thespian Festival. We competed at state and we competed against two other schools to go and compete and represent the State of Arkansas at International Thespian Festival.

LINDSAY: Have you ever been to that festival before?

KYLE: No, only two people from Green County Tech have ever been to International Thespian Festival – two people from Paragould, I believe.

LINDSAY: It’s amazing. It’s just like, when you go, you just soak everything in because there is any type of workshop that you could want to take. The shows – some of them are mind-blowing, particularly if you’re a tech and set guy, make sure to go and see all those shows and watch what happens. I think it’s going to be a really great experience. Show aside, I think it’s wonderful that the show is going to be there and we go as well so I’m like, oh, I hope you guys are at a time that we can see it, too. I can’t wait to see it!

KYLE: I hope you guys get to come and see it, too.

LINDSAY: Yeah!

As we wrap this up, what piece of advice would you give to any other student director? What is a good thing that you learned about being a student director that you’d like to pass on?

KYLE: First of all, once you have a cast set, be sure the cast knows what the student director expects from the cast to where there’s no goofing off in-between scenes when you’re trying to give them information because that was one of my big problems and I’m still having to find out new ways to overcome that. But I think, if you set certain goals, you really can’t joke around with them that much because then that’s like it’s okay to talk now. You’ve just got to be a straight-shooter, I think. I don’t know if that makes sense or not.

LINDSAY: It totally makes sense. Well, it’s that whole notion of they’re your friends, they’re your peers, but you’re also in-charge. I think saying it that way, you always have to be the one in-charge.

KYLE: Yes. And then, before all of that, I would say have a connection with the story. I believe that, whatever script you pick up, it doesn’t have to be a personal connection – not necessarily connection. There’s a word I’m looking for. Have a passion for the story you’re trying to convey.

LINDSAY: I think that’s it. First of all, it takes so long.

KYLE: Yes.

LINDSAY: You’ve got to have a connection. You have to have a passion to communicate something, right? Because theatre is communicating to an audience. It’s not just you guys putting on a play in a room. You’re putting on a play for an audience so that means there’s got to be something you passionately want to communicate, if that makes sense.

KYLE: Yeah.

LINDSAY: I’ve got to say, Kyle, congratulations on this experience! What an amazing end to your journey – to have advocated for this play and then to be able to see it through to the International Thespian Festival. I think that is amazing. And to be able to take this experience and to have gotten some scholarships to continue your journey – I think that’s amazing and I’m sure it’s impossible to, well, as you said, it’s hard to all put this experience into words.

KYLE: Thank you very much! It’s been a great experience! I’m really thankful that I was just scrolling through Theatrefolk and found Anonymous.

LINDSAY: Yeah, me too! That’s awesome!

All right, thank you very much, Kyle!

KYLE: Thank you!

LINDSAY: Thank you, Allison and Kyle!

Oh, that’s kind of cool! Now, I get to say her name!

Before we go, let’s do some THEATREFOLK NEWS.

And we’ve been talking about Anonymous so I wanted to share with you a little more about the play Anonymous which you can find in our show notes – Theatrefolk.com/episode185 – or, of course, you can just go to Theatrefolk.com.

In this play, it’s about stories. We all have our stories – things that are new, things that have always been with us, stories that are complete and stories that we haven’t even told yet.

Anonymous is the story of every teenager – the new kid trying to fit in, best friends, love interests, the kid in the corner with their secret, the group of individuals, each trying to belong.

The teenagers of Anonymous have no names. They are Me, You, Them. They are everyone. Now, we know that, while the playwright was also anonymous, now we know she is Drama teacher Allison Green – long-time friend to Theatrefolk. It was great talking to her and you can get Allison’s play at Theatrefolk.com.

I think it’s such a lovely piece. I think any time we can theatricalize trying to step away from the crowd, to learn to be an individual, and to learn to be yourself, I think that has a lot of value. Theatrefolk.com – click on our show notes – Theatrefolk.com/episode185.

Listen! Are you doing one of our plays? Are you doing Anonymous like Kyle did? Well, we want to see a picture. We want to hear about your experience!

You have rehearsal videos? 30 seconds – not too long! Show us what’s going on in rehearsal in the classroom.

We want to brag about you. We want to put together a production feature on you. We want to share your experience – not only to let everyone know what an amazing job you are doing but also how you approach a play. It’s of a lot of value to someone else who might pick up the play and want to do it as well.

All you need to do is send that info to us at [email protected]

Finally, where can you find this podcast? We post new episodes every second Tuesday at theatrefolk.com and on our Facebook page and Twitter. You can find us on youtube.com/theatrefolk and on the Stitcher app. You can also subscribe to The Drama Teacher Podcast on iTunes.

And that’s where we’re going to end. Take care, my friends. Take care.

 

Music credit: ”Ave” by Alex (feat. Morusque) is licensed under a Creative Commons license.

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Lindsay Price

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