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Ladue Publications

Ladue High School's student news site

Ladue Publications

Ladue High School's student news site

Ladue Publications

The Director’s Cut

Three seniors successfully cast, block and stage One-Act plays over two months
Vincent Hsiao
Ella Hamlin (12) observes her production of Much Ado About Nothing. Hamlin greatly appreciated the opportunity she was given to direct the show. “I feel like [directing is] one of those things where each time is better than the last,” Hamlin said.
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Cast members stand in the dimly lit Black Box Theater, awaiting their cues. Their director sits at the table, watching their production come to life. Only a few weeks ago in the same seat, they were watching the now show-ready cast audition for their roles. 

April 26-28, Ella Hamlin (12), Lily Warenberg (12) and Jessica Steinberg (12) put on the Senior-Directed One-Acts that they had been perfecting since March 4. Between the three shows, the entire cast included 19 people and the full performance was two hours long. Before rehearsals could begin, the cast for the One-Acts auditioned in front of all three of the directors. 

“It was kind of stressful; I’d never run an audition before,” Steinberg said. “The first day it was a lot of calling up people to see what worked and what I thought and then I was a lot more prepared to come on the second day already knowing some stuff.” 

Prior to auditioning, the cast filled out a form telling the directors what roles they wanted. This aided directors in the audition process, as they were able to select a cast based on their own thoughts as well as the cast’s preferences.

“It’s a matter of who you want in what role because actors are allowed to put down their preferences,” Warenberg said. “When you’re dividing up a cast between different directors, people who are better suited for certain roles go into that cast.”

The ability to collaborate during auditions benefited the directors greatly. Their understanding of each other’s thoughts allowed them to cast people into the One-Acts more easily.

“When you’re passionate to other directors and distributing people between you, it’s definitely hard to make the calls or ‘Hey, this person I really want in my show, but is better for your show’, so juggling that part was hard,” Hamlin said.

After school each day, cast members were expected to be in the black box theater to start rehearsing their plays. Before splitting off into their individual One-Acts, the three casts performed vocal exercises and warmups together. After that, one stayed in the Black Box Theater and the two others went to the choir room or the hallway.

“With my cast, I continue warming up with a shakeout, which is another movement-based warmup, and we also do clearing which is something I really enjoy,” Hamlin said. “It’s [a] chance for everyone to share something that’s keeping them from being in the space or something that’s on their mind.”

A unique aspect of the Senior-Directed One-Acts is the versatility of rehearsals and different ways that they are conducted. Each director takes an individual approach to preparing their actors for their performance.

 “One time, I had them step on different colored pieces of paper that are called rasa boxes [which] are supposed to represent different characterizations,” Warenberg said. “It’s pretty routine and just really [helps] develop characters while going through the motions of the show.”

One of the main jobs of the director is to properly block and stage each scene of their One-Act. In order to do that, they take notes throughout running the play.

“For the rest of rehearsal, we just run the show and work on blocking and where people are supposed to be,” Hamlin said. “If there are any notes about how I want actors moving their bodies or standing, I take notes and I go through them at the end of rehearsal.”

Before directing her One-Act, Hamlin had mainly worked in lighting design while participating in theater at Ladue High School. Directing provided her with a completely different perspective on stage production.

“It’s completely different because of what you’re focusing on,” Hamlin said. “You’re no longer focusing on how the show is going to look physically, it’s more so the message and the story that you’re getting across.”

For Steinberg, watching each character develop their dynamics with other characters during rehearsals has been one of the most rewarding parts of the directing process. She ensures that her cast is provided with the freedom to craft their characters in a way that is unique to them.

“I really like to see progress day to day, especially when [the cast doesn’t] use their script,” Steinberg said. “[I like] seeing the little touches they’re putting on things, making their characters their own.”

For all three directors, the Senior-Directed One-Acts was their first experience directing a production. Collaborating to create a stage-worthy production was an experience not easily forgotten. 

“My favorite part is seeing the progress that my actors make because they’re such talented people,” Warenberg said. “During rehearsal and especially getting off focus is when you get to see them grow the most and see the show come together.”


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About the Contributors
Marie Demkovitch
Sophomore Marie Demkovitch is a staff writer on Panorma. This is her first year on staff. Marie enjoys playing tennis and trying new cooking recipes.
Maya Mathew
Maya Mathew, Staff
Maya Mathew is a staffer on Panorama. She is a sophomore and this is her first year on staff. Maya enjoys singing, reading, drinking bubble tea and watching FRIENDS.
Vincent Hsiao
Vincent Hsiao, Photo Editor in Chief
Sophomore Vincent Hsiao is the photography editor in chief for Panorama. He was previously a staff photographer for Ladue Publications where he significantly contributed to photos in both the Panorama newsmagazine and Rambler yearbook. Outside of photography, Hsiao is on the Ladue swim team and has been a swimmer since he was six.
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