The University Drama Department’s production of “Direct to You!” features six plays directed by students as part of an advanced directing course in the drama department. The program offers a unique opportunity for productions run by students from top to bottom, with some even writing their own plays. Students will take to the stage this weekend Feb. 23, 24 and 25 at 8:00 p.m. in Helms Theatre.
Fourth-year College student Charlie Mooz wrote and directed “Patchwork,” a commentary on divides within the LGBTQ+ community. The story centers on four friends in the early 90s, focusing on their fraught relationship with identity, sexuality and the queer community.
“[‘Patchwork’] looks back at the origins of modern queer history,” Mooz said. “From the AIDS epidemic of the 80s and 90s, to see what progress has occurred or should have occurred since then.”
Mooz says he wants to bring the themes of “Patchwork” to a broader audience and, to Mooz, “Direct for You!” will be a perfect venue. The project has been significant for Mooz because he has had full creative control in bringing the story to life.
“This project gives almost all of the control to the students, giving them a more intimate and personal experience through the whole production process,” Mooz said.
Fourth-year College student Regan Borucke tackles different themes in directing “Wednesday,” a short play by Deidre O’Connor. Fourth-year College student Evelyn Garey and second-year College student Mary Hall play two secretaries living in Manhattan, one of which loses her job.
“It’s a play about the frustrations of the modern workplace and the tension between despising your job and knowing you can’t afford to lose it,” Borucke said.
Borucke praised Garey and Hall's extensive work in bringing their characters to life, and fourth-year College student Xuled Stiff for his work as stage manager. She also credited Drama Prof. David Dalton for his guidance.
“[Dalton] has done a great job of mentoring us while giving us the freedom to make our own creative decisions,” Borucke said.
Like “Patchwork,” “Wednesday” is a play about young people struggling to find their place in the world. The student directors and actors bring perspective and emotion to these stories that only individuals their age can. Far from amateurish, however, they pair this emotion with rigorous professionalism and commitment to their craft.
Dalton and fellow Assoc. Drama Prof. Doug Grissom work together as producers, helping their students hone the skills of that craft. Dalton is also the Artistic Director at the University’s Department of Drama. Grissom teaches playwriting and screenwriting and has written plays produced around the country and in the U.K., including “Deep Down” and “Elvis People,” which were produced Off-Broadway.
The evening will also include “Bus Play,” written by fourth-year College student Susana Kuhn and directed by third-year College student Megan Deane. Kuhn also directs “Batchelor Party,” a play written by Deirdre O’Connor. Three student directors have selected plays by O’Connor, who is a graduate of Columbia University’s MFA Playwriting program, and the recipient of an Emmy Award for her writing on the PBS program “The Electric Company.” Third-year College student Angel Lin directs “Penicillin,” and Auntais Faulkner, a third-year MFA acting student, directs “Forty Minute Finish.”
Tickets will be available for free at the box office on the night of each performance. Viewers should expect some potentially troubling content in “Patchwork” and other pieces.