Student Written & Senior Directed One Acts


Issy Hackley (12) and Katy Manderfeld (11) performing in “Pacific Youth.” Photo by Jo Hoagland.

Jo Hoagland, Senior Staff Writer

  After a season full of shows, the Wayzata High School Theatre Department is in the midst of tech week for their final production of the year: the Student Written and Senior Directed One Acts. This slot has been a tradition in the department for years now, with selected seniors choosing a 20 to 30 minute play to direct, casting the show, and serving as the director throughout the rehearsal process.
  This year, however, the aspect of students writing these shows has been added. A new playwriting initiative has positively impacted the entire season this year. Junior EJ Hanson wrote the play “Lunch Date at Georgio’s” which will be showcased during the week and has been a big part of the new initiative. “We started this thing called writer’s room where students could sign up to get plays they had written read aloud by some other students and get feedback on it, which was cool,” Hanson said. “It helped people put out good quality plays so they could be ready in time for the one acts.”
  Following play submissions and director applications, five seniors chosen to direct were each paired with a student-written play. Before auditions were held, directors connected with their writers about the shows.
  Collaboration occurred on varying levels—Hanson’s connection with Senior Devra Lewin, the director of his show was brief. Hanson said, “I was basically showed the play and she had a few questions about it which I answered to the best of my ability. Then, she was like ‘alright I think I know what I’m doing’ and I was like ‘good, I trust you.’”
  Senior Annika Peterson had a different experience with fellow Senior Laura Britz, who wrote the play, “A New Golden Age,” which Britz is directing. “At the beginning of the process, I talked with Laura quite a bit. I asked her questions about the text and how she got her ideas so I could lean into her thoughts as well. I have also been asking her questions throughout the process,” Peterson said.
  The casting process was unique for this show compared to the rest of the season, with a pool of actors auditioning for all five plays. Peterson said, “I think it was difficult to stay professional throughout the casting process because I have worked with these people as peers. In the casting itself, it was difficult to think objectively about what skills were needed for each character rather than the actors that I wanted to work with in terms of personality.”
  Sophomore actor Cora Teachey felt that the different rehearsal dynamic had its challenges as well. “I feel like it’s super easy to get off track when you’re so close with somebody because you will start a scene and then you’ll remember a joke and get distracted for a minute,” Teachey said. “That isn’t typically a challenge with adult directors.”
  There are benefits to student directors as well. Teachey said that the connection and understanding between actors and directors is stronger in this process because they can relate to each other more in terms of life in general.
  Students also have active leadership roles in the tech domain for each show. Senior Audrey Olson is assuming the stage-manager position during this process. “I help to make sure the show is running smoothly overall during the night. I coordinate transitions and cues and making sure everything is where it needs to be,” Olson said. “I work and communicate with directors to make sure they have everything they need and make sure all of the different technical elements are compiled together.”
  Included in the technical elements for this production are projections, which will be used in all five shows. “There will also most likely be at least one set piece that can be manipulated to be used in different ways for each show,” Olson said.
  It is when the elements of tech, acting, and directing all come together that really brings the production together. “Definitely come see it,” Teachey said. “It’ll be a party.”