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Tuesday, June 12, 2018

The Teacher

The Teacher, played by Patrick Miller

I'd never met Patrick before he walked into the second day of auditions. I did recognize him immediately, however. I had known his brother from marching band a few years previously. Patrick did wonderfully in auditions. He did exactly what I told him to do, and he did it excellently. When I told the cast to play, Patrick played and played hard. The sheer amount of ideas that he was able come up with helped him and Connor and Evan really reach a new height that I think I couldn't have reached on my own. I'm very happy to have gotten to work with him once before these vine-clad halls. I also want to congratulate Patrick on a particularly well done job on the second night of performances. There was a moment when Patrick, alone onstage essentially, went up on a line, as people do sometimes. It took him a moment or two (or 15) to get back on track, but he did. He stood there, in silence, but most importantly in character until it came back to him. And when he came back, he came back with the same level of energy and focus that he had had before. You may be curious about why I'm telling this story, why I'm highlighting a mistake; the amount of focus and energy, not to mention bravery, you have to have to recover at 100% like Patrick did is immense, and I could not be more proud of him for doing that.

After the show, Patrick told me that he was going to be a theatre major. This is excellent news, as the department needs more people like him: daring, smart, funny, brave, and bold. Any show that Patrick works on will be made better by his presence and his hard work.

The Good Samaritan

The Good Samaritan, played by Connor Daliposon.

This was my first time working with Connor, but not my first time ever having seen him act. I did speech and debate in high school, and competed in the same circuit as he. And he always beat me whenever we went head to head. I'm glad I'm not that petty of a person, and I'm more glad that I was able to put my ego aside and cast Connor to be The Good Samaritan. The level of eagerness to try new things and push the limits of my vision was astounding, and I think that he definitely had a hand in pushing my concept as far as it went.

After the show, Connor had mentioned to me that it was his first time onstage since he was 7. I was in disbelief. However, it was true. I'm glad that he has another year here at Oregon State, because if he decides to stick around the theatre department, any show and any director is going to lucky to have him.

The Jumper

The Jumper, played by Evan Granquist

I first worked with Evan on Inherit the Wind and found that he had a quirky sense of humor and an astonishing amount of control over his lanky limbs. When watching him audition, I saw an opportunity to use that to my advantage, as a core concept of my show was After School Special level of over acting. I never really had to change much of what he came up with. The only thing that I had work with Evan on was sussing out more of the same. He had great ideas and his comedic timing with Connor was excellent. Aside from a few acting fundamentals that were easy fixes, working with Evan was a dream and a wonderful experience.

Evan's final version of the Jumper was someone that came across as despondent in the first half of the show, and an attention hungry pill in the second half. A great amount of development in 7 pages, and I'm proud of the work he did. I would recommend Evan to anyone that was looking for someone who could make big choices and could be fearless in his decision.

How'd The Show Go?

The show came and went, and in busy-ness that followed, I didn't have time to write any of these posts.

Long story short, it went incredibly well, and I couldn't be prouder of my own efforts and the incredible efforts of all of my actors. The amount of focus, determination, and energy that they brought to every performance continues to shock and impress me, almost 2 weeks after closing. This whole process was surreal, watching my actors grow and incorporate and internalize their characters. If given a chance, I would cast these guys again in a heartbeat.

Wednesday, June 6, 2018

The Courier: Closing

Hi there everyone,

The 2018 Spring One-Act Festival closed last Sunday with a wonderful afternoon performance. The energy that the actors brought today was filled with confidence and determination - they knew what they were doing and were excited to show it to an audience one last time. Overall, all the shows were fun to watch since they each grew and changed dramatically throughout the process.

Most importantly, thank you. Thank you to the cast, crew, co-directors, and my mentor, Liz, for giving me this opportunity as well as making it an unforgettable learning experience. My passion for directing has significantly increased throughout this process and I cannot wait to see what the future holds.

To my cast: you all did an exceptional job and made this experience so overwhelmingly positive due to your passion and dedication to this piece, your characters, and my vision. I cannot thank you enough for how much your hard work has meant to me.

It was amazing to watch each of my actors grow significantly from the beginning of this process to the end - finally settling into their characters in front of a sold-out theater multiple times. The energy they brought was so unique and intense that it was upsetting to watch at times and the audience felt similarly. It is also shocking to know that I played a part in that growth. I can only hope that they each learned something from me that they can take with them, the way I learned how to better navigate the directing process from them.

Seeing my vision come to life was something that I will never forget. Watching the production opening night was thrilling since I was finally able to see the piece for the first time all over again. I could see what it looked like as a whole and it was incredibly distinct. The lighting, costumes, characters, and story, all came together to bring my concept of Fragmented Freedom to life and it was so unique in its finished state. Liz definitely assisted with some direction and final touches that aided significantly to my vision as well, so I am unbelievable grateful for her guidance. By the time closing came around, the concept only got stronger and I was often stunned by the weight of the story being told on the stage.

Overall, this has been an exceptional experience and we created a lovely piece that I will always be proud of. Thank you so much to everyone who participated in the production process or came to see the shows.

Stay tuned for the next directing experience...

- Lindsey Esch

Saturday, June 2, 2018

The Courier: Opening Energy

A few nights ago, the Spring 2018 One-Act Festival opened and it was amazing. There have been two more performances since then, however, I will be focusing on opening night here. I thought that all the plays were incredibly successful and I could see everyone's hard work come together in a wonderful two-hour performance.

The biggest difference I could feel was the energy. It was tangible and variable - constantly shifting around the room. There was a lot of energy coming from the directors since it was the beginning of the end for all our hard work throughout the term. There was a lot of energy from the audience as their laughter continuously filled the room. And there was a lot of energy from the actors as they stepped onto a stage with a full house of eyes watching them. All this energy swirled around the bodies filling the seats and it was exhilarating.

Seeing the actors respond to the energy I gave off and felt was also given back to me in their performances. Every one of them absolutely thrived with an audience in front of them. I obviously noticed it the most with my own actors since I have been with them throughout the process, however, it was definitely present throughout all of them. Specifically, I found that the interactions in The Courier were quicker and their emotions were deeper since they themselves had a layer of nervous excitement wrapped around them.

It was during this performance that I was able to pull myself away from what I was seeing and watch every show with fresh eyes. There were so many things to appreciate in every piece and I found myself laughing hard and loudly.

Watching my play made me feel weighed down; as if what I saw on the stage was physically holding me in place and forcing me to acknowledge its message. That energy didn't die even after the cast left the stage and the following play was about to start. It was an energy you wanted to sit in for a moment before anything else in life pulled your mind in another direction. That energy is hard to create but I believe that the vision of The Courier combined with the unbelievable talent of its actors, successfully did so, and for that I am forever moved.

Tomorrow is the closing performance and I'm excited to see what kind of energy that brings, but also saddened that this production is so close to coming to an end. Until then though...

Stay tuned for more,

- Lindsey Esch

Thursday, May 24, 2018

The Courier: It's Not Too Late

Last week I was advised to change my set so there was more space between the pieces. Angling the furniture slightly was also recommended to create better sightlines.

I felt incredibly overwhelmed by these suggestions because I thought it was too late to make such extensive changes. These changes would impact my blocking, lighting, and force the actors to make adjustments they weren't expecting to. Because of feeling so overwhelmed, I worked with Liz after class and she helped me adjust my set and walk through lighting changes I'd need to make. She also stressed the fact that actors adapt to changes like these very quickly so I shouldn't worry about that.

I ended up moving the desk/chair far stage left and angling it toward audience left. This might not sound like a dramatic change but it felt incredibly different for me. Angling furniture has always been an especially difficult thing for me to do because I find it very aesthetically displeasing. This is the first time I've been able to angle a set piece and not feel distracted by it so I have felt very excited about the change.

These changes have also helped the play blossom. The actors did adapt quickly and are thriving in the amount of space they have available to them. The space between the pieces further assists in highlighting my concept of the disjointed structure of memories because it forces the audiences' eyes to constantly shift to different points of the stage, and consequently, shift between different points in time. Overall, this change is a simple one yet a real breakthrough for me as a director, and also improves the piece as a whole through the elements mentioned above.

Making changes to your play in the later stages of the process can be difficult, nerve racking, and confusing, however, these changes are often necessary for making the piece the best that it can be. After seeing the company run-thrus the last two nights, I'm so grateful I listened to my advisor and pushed myself to a place of discomfort because the payoff has been incredible. Seeing my actors thrive in the entire space the Lab Theater provides while also better highlighting my concepts and vision I am striving to bring to life, has been wonderful to experience.

This experience and the corresponding feelings it brought wouldn't have happened if I didn't stop telling myself, "it's too late."

Stay tuned for more,

- Lindsey Esch