By Christina Oddo
Two student-directed performances, “Lessons” and “Really Trying Here,” will premiere this weekend.
“Lessons” is directed and performed by only two actors, Edward Pailet ’11 and Stephanie Walters ’11, both of whom are arts merit scholars. The two proposed “Lessons” last semester as a challenging culmination of their acting career at the University. They chose a variety of scenes, spanning from drama to comedy, that all focus on the central theme of love. Pailet and Walters arranged this piece in just two and a half weeks.
Pailet and Walters never leave the stage during the performance; in fact, they change their clothing right onstage. This simple presentation allows the audience to purely focus on the acting. After the Saturday night show, Pailet and Walters are hosting a “talk back,” in which the audience can stay and ask questions.
This project has been a “hands-on experience for us,” Walters said. “We have a great appreciation for what the department has done for us.” By collaborating with faculty and attending production meetings, “we are not [merely] actors anymore,” Walters said.
“Really Trying Here” features Meg Visokey ’13, Julian Fleming ’14, Pat Shane ’12, Diego Chiri ’11, Michael Kurban ’12 and director Sam Nelsen ’11. Nelsen gathered five talented actors interested in improvisation for this project. The performance parallels a workshop held last semester in which “long form” improvisation was introduced. In a “long form” skit, the act begins with just one word that ultimately shapes and creates the rest of the play.
According to Nelsen, “Really Trying Here” “ … focuses in on the idea that life is really hard, and that it is often difficult to fit in, or to feel normal in life.” Following every showing of “Really Trying Here,” there will be a 30-minute “long form” set where the actors improvise.
Pailet, Walters and Nelsen appreciate all of the support they have received. “It is an honor to be able to put on our own show,” Pailet said.
The faculty played a big part in the two upcoming productions. “They put faith in us,” the three directors said. Not only did the faculty support them, but they pushed the three to make their own decisions.
“Lessons” will take place Feb. 11-12 at 8 p.m. and February 13 at 2 p.m. “Really Trying Here” will be performed Feb. 12 at 2 p.m., and Feb. 13-14 at 8 p.m. All performances will be held in Tustin Studio Theatre.