Behind the Scenes with Ben Wendel ’17

bwendel

Ben Wendel ’17 is truly a gem. An Arts Concentration student for theater and performance, Wendel has been a powerhouse both behind the scenes and onstage. Since his time in Arts Con, Wendel has developed his skills in stage management, acting, and directing.

Known for his theatre expertise, Wendel aptly described that “directing is a combination of all the other aspects of theater that include tech, staging, and acting.”

Wendel also explained the differences between each role: “For me, acting is difficult and easy: as an actor, you only have to care about yourself and what you’re doing. But when you’re working in tech, or directing, you have to care about the entire show. An actor gets a ton of attention; they get a ton of applause. However, if a tech person does his job correctly, he won’t be noticed. If he does it poorly, it’s really obvious. The same goes for stage managing.”

His first experience stage-managing was in The Diary of Anne Frank this fall. “I had to figure out everything on the spot, but it was a learning experience,” he shared. “Us stage managers hadn’t seen any renditions of the show, so we had to learn everything from a book.” This job can range from writing down a director’s blocking to creating lights for the set to scheduling, he adds. “Every cue — every light, sound, special effect — that’s what the stage manager is responsible for.”

Wendel has been involved in almost every school theatrical event since the beginning Choate career: last year he was involved in As You Like It and Hairspray. This year, he participated in Student Directed Scenes, Fringe Festival, Robin Hood, and will be in the spring musical City of Angels.

Within the creative process, Wendel says: “Each director has a different way of directing, and the way that I found to be very effective is just to come in and trust my actors.” Some parts of his plays resulted from the ideas and actions of his actors. “We build and grow from each other. In Fringe, I had everything in my mind, and I just needed to find that moment in the person to really make the piece. Once the actors got it, they could add their own individual flourishes to it.”

Wendel believes in the cyclical nature of the theatrical performance: “Art is a collaborative process, and it starts with the writer’s words. Mattie Drucker ’17, the director of the Fringe play that Wendel directed, probably had an idea that changed as she wrote it down, and this idea changed when I directed it, and it changed when the audience viewed it.”

Ms. Tracy Ginder-Delventhal, who has been working with Wendel since his sophomore year, stated: “He used to be afraid to give direction to the people who were working for him. That has totally changed. He’s not only learned to communicate his vision for the piece, but he’s also started to make bolder and more surprising choices. His work was interesting before, but now it grabs you by the throat and doesn’t let you go. He has a very distinct aesthetic; he thinks visually.”

2 Comments

  1. Ben Wendel says:

    Its-a me.

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