It’s all about perspective.
North Attleborough students got to see things from the director’s point of view in the annual One-Act Play Festival. Now in its 40th year, the festival gives students the chance to lead their classmates in different performances. They are paired with teacher advisers, who observe all rehearsals and offer suggestions where needed.
“Make sure I can hear you,” said Lynda O’Brien, one of the advisers, when asked what advice she has given.
Theater Company Director Lisa Forsgard said those taking the director role grow and mature and get a great understanding of her job. She said one of the biggest challenges can be to make decisions that impact their fellow theater company members.
“Making those decisions is the hardest,” she said.
The three shows—“Employees Must Wash Hands…Before Murder,” “Lockdown,” and “The Scheme of the Driftless Shifter” range from comedy to murder mystery to serious drama. “Lockdown” portrays a drill for a school shooting that lasts far longer than most, and the students react in different ways. As time passes, the students begin to argue about what is going on, but also find ways to bond and grow closer. Things fall apart when the teacher leaves to chase down another student, and they make the decision to see what is happening. Director Ethan Gannon said it was important to treat this subject very seriously.
“Getting it right was so important,” said Gannon. “If the acting wasn’t totally serious we could be seen to be dismissive of it.”
Gannon said in the show, the characters don’t know if the lockdown is for a drill or the real thing. He said the cast learned different ways to relax when things got too tense during rehearsals.
“We try to fix it together,” he said of any issues that come up.
In “Employees Must Wash Hands…” the classic ‘whodunnit’ gets a comedic twist. At perhaps the world’s worst fast food restaurant, a health inspector decides to be the detective when the manager is found dead. The cast is a range of quirky personalities, from the former employee who quits again and again to the cashier obsessed with her looks. Director Elvis Young said it was challenging to go from being on stage to running the show. Though the cast and he had worked together before, he had to make it clear about the roles.
“It was interesting to see the other side [of the show],” he said.
Director Zoe Tevyaw said she was curious about what it would be like to be in charge of a show. She said she enjoyed the experience, but expects that she’ll return to acting in the future. She added that in the director’s role, she had to ensure the cast respected her, even if they were older or more experienced. The story of “The Scheme of the Shiftless Drifter” shows a theater company where what can go wrong does. Every single time, in fact. Cast forget their lines, enter from the wrong side of the stage, and even interact with the audience mid-scene.
“It was a little hectic,” she said with a laugh.