Junior directs play, others assist

Drew Foster ’08, director for the play “Hawaii” in the Playwrights Festival, was late. The rest of the cast and crew had arrived by 3 p.m. and were congregating at their rehearsal venue, the grassy plot outside the drama lab.

Struggling to unfold beach chairs in the wind, the cast stopped to wonder, “Where is Drew?” and make faces at students in adjacent rehearsals.

By the time the actors were settled on the beach chairs, Foster had arrived and spent no time in getting the rehearsal under way.

“No kissing today because Sam’s feeling under the weather,” he told the group.

“Unless you want a disease!” Sam Alper ’07, one of two actors in the play, interjected.

With Justin Kuritzkes ’08, writer of “Hawaii,” and Foster sitting across from them, the actors switched from chatting to the dialogue of the play with the shortest of pauses.

Foster remained silent and unmoving, eyes forward, chin resting on his hand, except to give the occasional direction or quiet encouragement. After each direction he conversed softly with Kuritzkes to confirm changes and minor details.

Foster is the only student director this year for the festival, alongside faculty and adult directors like performing arts set director Rees Pugh and drama teacher Ted Walch.

Foster, who was an assistant director in the festival last year, expressed interest in either directing or assistant directing again and was selected for the job.

“Drew proved to be an incredibly organized and helpful assistant director last year,” Moore said. “It was clear to me that he looked at the plays not just as an observer, but with a director’s thought process on how to make the play work and bring the stories to life on stage.”

To become eligible to direct in the festival, students must have been an assistant director in either the festival or one of the school’s main stage shows.

Moore’s criteria for a potential director include a student having “a clear understanding of the play and a calm demeanor.”

“It is also very important that the directors have a good understanding of the myriad of restrictions and limitations of our festival,” he said.

As a director, Foster runs rehearsals after school, takes notes on both positive and negative aspects of the performances and discusses them with the actors and Kuritzkes.

This year there are 14 directors, 10 student assistant directors, one student choreographer and one student assistant producer.

Although in previous years several students directed plays, Moore moved to using professional directors and having students become assistant directors.

“I felt that it was in the best interest for both our playwrights and our casts to have professionals direct a majority of the plays,” he said.

“We have many talented and promising students assistant directing this year, and depending on the plays next year, we may see more students helming the plays.”