“Director’s Cut,” Theatre Fairfield’s second performance of the year, opened on Dec. 1. Although opening night signified the end of a stressful week, it also allowed for hope and nerves to surface for the performances.
“My play [“Covers”] is about two pregnant teenagers in a halfway house,” said Michelle Rakowsky ‘17. If anyone other than the author of the play was able to say those words, it would be her, having spent the entirety of the past semester studying its every aspect and preparing for its production.
“The playwright takes these two vulnerable girls and writes a beautiful play that portrays them as the dynamic individuals that they are,” said Rakowsky. “Just like everyone, they have hopes, dreams, fears and want to be loved. I was attracted to how they weren’t simply reduced to being pregnant teens, but as complex people.”
Rakowsky was one of six directors who participated in the past week’s “Director’s Cut.” The process for the directors began over the summer. Their first task was to read and ponder over Kent R. Brown’s compilation of short plays, “25 in 10.” In the four months since, the directors have studied the art and theories of directing through the close study of the processes of famous directors and through participating in numerous workshops.
“I was both nervous and excited when my show opened,” said Erin Strader ’18, director of “The Turnover,” after the Dec. 1 performance. “The interesting part about being a director is that once the show opens, everything is out of your hands and obviously you trust your actors and the stage crew, but sitting in the audience is a very different perspective.”
The individual plays were cast with a series of talented Fairfield undergraduate students who played their parts with magnificence. Each play was followed by a pause as the audience absorbed the full meaning behind each play — sometimes the meaning was clear and other times, it was carefully hidden in what might seem to be a comedy skit. Nonetheless, the meanings were no less powerful in the latter case. Then came enthusiastic applause from every person in the audience. The amount of emotion that these plays were able to express in only 10 minutes each was a credit not just to the writer of each play, but also to the directors who read the scripts, took their own visions from it and made them into reality.
Several of the plays touched upon topics that were easy for the audience to relate to. One of these plays was “Undress Me Clarence,” directed by Kelly Sheridan ‘18. The play featured a woman, who at first seemed only to be trying to initiate sexual intimacy with her partner and was growing aggravated, but who was really trying to see if he cared for her beyond their sex life.
The greatest part of “Undress Me Clarence” was how relatable it was for everyone in the audience, whether they were happily married, in a relationship or single. The relatability stems from the search for a connection with someone who cares and is not just there for personal benefit. Even those who are married or in long-term committed relationships can possess a nagging doubt that maybe, like the woman in the play, having a real connection with someone is “just a fantasy.” The play reveals that others feel the same way and allows viewers to ponder over the show and consider their own opinion on the topic.
Another play, “The Nine Volt Time Machine,” directed by Jessie Lizotte ‘18, had morals for the audience to take away with them. The play was mixed with multiple moments of hysteria — one of which occurred when a time traveling woman Ginger (Emily Ramsey ‘20) met herself from five minutes previously. The meeting resulted in confusion, a clash of personality and Ginger slapping herself. The strange, yet hysterical occurrence led to the meaning of the play being revealed. Carpe Diem: don’t try to live in the past. Seize the day and change your own future — do not rely on time travel to try to fix what cannot be undone.
“Hot Wax,” directed by Kaylee Moran ‘18, had a similar message, but instead of seizing the day, it was about seizing the opportunity to trust someone. The play features a business woman and her elderly client, who ruthlessly questions the former on how she lives her life. After the questioning goes too far, the elderly woman halts her questioning and allows the younger woman to complete her day, but the woman takes the opportunity to share her story and that results in a new friendship between the two. Trust can be a tricky thing — difficult to give away and painful to take back —, but as Moran put in her description of the play, “When we are able to cultivate trust, we become open to the love and strength that person can provide us. The journey of life is full of struggles, triumphs, tears and laughter, but we are not meant to go through it alone.”
Senior Brendan McNamara directed the play “Little Sins” — a hysterical show featuring two people with drastically opposite personalities who are about to engage in an affair to escape their everyday lives when they get into an argument about how they have raised their children. McNamara summarized the experience for all of the directors when he described the semester as being, “a very rewarding and career-affirming experience.”
Overall, this year’s “Director’s Cut” was a wonderful experience for both the directors and the audience members, who had the privilege of seeing the visions of the directors come to life.
“I’ve loved seeing a theatre production from this perspective and being able to experiment with my vision and style as an artist and theater-maker,” said McNamara. “It’s been an exciting opportunity in taking the first steps of finding my voice as an artist.”
The class is highly recommended by all involved for anyone who is interested in working as or working closely with a director in the future. The shows performed in “Director’s Cut,” as well as the work of these directors, are highly recommended by the entirety of the audience.