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Student Directors Take Lead in BHS One Acts

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Photo: Jake Bucci/Register

The One Acts are an excellent and unique dramatic opportunity for BHS students. After winter break students get the opportunity to direct or act in short, one act plays. All students who wish to participate, can, no matter their experience.

Senior students who are involved in drama throughout high school are given the chance to choose and direct a One Act. At the end of their junior year, if they have had enough theater experience they can talk to the director of the Drama Program, Leesa “Frau” Guay-Thompson about directing. They can even write their own plays if they have the idea ready a year or two in advance. This is a long process of editing and transferring the story to a script with dialogue.

“It’s a privilege, not a right. It’s like hitting varsity. You have to have the talent. You have to have the chops, and you’ve got to have the dedication to do it because directing is a totally different thing than just acting,” Frau said.

Emma Perry a senior at BHS, the current director of a One Act play and avid member of BHS drama, is very excited at the chance to direct a play.

“I never entertained the idea that an actor could be a director, or vice versa,” she said.

Directing a one act requires experience, but acting in one just requires desire.

“This is the greatest opportunity for people who think they might be interested, even a little bit, in theatre. The time commitment is not as intense. Rehearsals aren’t three hours a day as they are for the school plays,” Frau said. “Nobody is turned away. Nobody is cut. So, if you walk in here and you want to be in a play, you’re in a play.”

On audition days, directors will explain their play and state which type of roles they need. Students will then decide which plays interest them the most, and they will be given a short excerpt of the play to practice for their auditions. A couple days later, students arrive at the auditorium and take turns auditioning for their desired parts. After this, directors meet to make decisions on who will get what roles, and make sure to get every student a part. Once parts have been chosen and directors know their cast, they are given free reign to prepare for their performance, checking in with Frau only when they need advice or help on a directing decision.

Directing a play in high school can have a profound impact on one’s life. Sequoia Ponzio-Young, class of 2014 and a former BHS One Acts director, reflects on her experience directing her play.  

“It was a unique process. It’s not definitely something all schools allow. I learned a lot about how to work with other people and leadership skills,” she said. “It’s kind of strange. It feels weird to be in charge of people that I sit next to in class. It requires a lot of communication skills, between the director and the cast. Cast members would give suggestions for the play and we would work together to improve it.”

Students also have to manage their time outside school well, finding time to do school work, as well as fitting time to work with all of their cast.

“You’re usually directing every day. It’s definitely a time commitment. I had a job that school year, and I told them I couldn’t work during that period,” she said.

But Ponzio-Young did not think it was a stressful experience.

“When you’re doing something that’s a great time, with lovely humans, it’s not stressful. Yes, everybody has those moments before the performance where they are stressed out, but it was never anything serious. If you make a mistake, so what? It’s all about the experience and that’s the best part of it.”

So what’s the big take away? According to Sequoia Ponzio-Young directing a one act really helps you realize that a big project is never done by one person. It’s a massive team effort, and that effort really pays off.

Come support fellow Burlington High School students at the One Acts at 7pm Wednesday the 22nd through Friday the 24th of February in the auditorium! Tickets are 2$! See you there!