Annual Student Directed Scenes, An Instant Sell Out

Left photo courtesy of Graysen Airth; right photos courtesy of Kristen Andonie

Students in SDS perform in Graysen Airth’s ’18 Foreplay or The Art of Fugue (left), Camryn Chester’s ’17 Bringing Up Lester (top right), and Kate Moore’s ’17 It’s a Small World.

Like past winter terms, Student Directed Scenes (SDS) returned once again for the annual performance in the Gelb Theater. The event was held on Friday, January 27, and Saturday, January 28, beginning at 7 p.m. However, unlike previous years, it ran for the rare length of two hours and 30 minutes. SDS is a hightly anticipated theatrical event — tickets for the event sold out within minutes, several hours before the performance. Crowds formed lines two hours before the sale began in hopes of seeing the long-awaited performance.

SDS is the culmination of two consecutive terms of work. Under the guidance of acting and directing teacher Ms. Tracy Ginder-Delventhal, a group of eleven students tried their hand in directing, taking on plays with sometimes sexual, sometimes comedic undertones. The performance is the final assessment of Ms. Ginder-Delventhal’s Honors Directing class.

This year, SDS featured the work of directors Maya Birney ’17 with The Some of All Parts; Kate Newhouse ’18 with The Divine Fallacy; Elle Rinaldi ’17 with Burning Mime; Camryn Chester ’17 with Bringing Up Lester; Kate Moore ’17 with It’s a Small World; Kristen Adonie ’17 with The Cask of Amontillado; Graysen Airth ’18 with Foreplay, or the Art of the Fugue; William Raccio ’18 with In the Beginning;  Mia Rubinstein ’18 with Brain Sucking; Rebecca Lilenbaum ’17 with Buyer$ Market; and Max Fine ’17 with Throwing Smoke.

The performance opened with Birney’s take on The Some of All Parts, originally written by Mrinalini Kamath. The performance was comical, exciting, and dotted with sexual themes. When asked about her directing experience Birney said, “It was such a fun process. I laughed so hard every time we rehearsed. My actors did an amazing job keeping the joke going.” She added, “The hardest part of being a director is getting together actors that are able to work cohesively and blocking the scene in my head and on paper. I wanted it to be as organized as possible. It was exciting to see the entire play come together.”

Newhouse, who directed The Divine Fallacy, written by Tina Howe, stated, “The entire process was so exciting. I chose a play that had comedy but also carried an important message. But aside from directing, I thought the most memorable part was watching the first full run-through of Student Directed Scenes. I was genuinely impressed with what all the directors came up with.”

The third performance, Burning Mime, was originally written by Stephen Bittrich. Directed by Rinaldi, it left a lasting impression on the audience. The play was perplexing and spoke to individuals on many different levels. Rinaldi said, “I remember my cast backstage before their first performance. We just held each other. All of them were so nervous. One of them held my hand to her beating heart. I kissed each of their cheeks and I just loved them because they were my show; no sounds, lights, or laughs from the audience could represent my piece more truly than each of them. At the end of the show, all I was able to say was, ‘You did it. Thank you. I love you.’”

Jeanne Malle ’19, who starred as the Mime, added, “I watched SDS last year and wanted to be a part of it so badly. I remember how awesome the stage was, and did not even question whether I should audition or not. I think that the best part of the process was creating and interpreting my character and being able to build relationships with my fellow actors through someone that wasn’t myself.” She added jokingly, “Sometimes, Elle would show up with homemade cookies and candy. That was amazing!”

Raccio brought the play In the Beginning, originally by Bruce Kane, to life on the Choate stage. He recounted, “Surprisingly the hardest part of being a director was not the directing, but being able to get my cast to focus!” He added, “It was amazing watching the play come to life. Seeing it develop from words on a piece of paper to a real-life stage was awesome.” He stated, “I definitely cannot call it my show. It was a collaborative piece that was equally developed by each member of the team. It would not be right to refer to it as mine.”

Lilenbaum, who directed Buyer$ Market, originally by L.B Hamilton, said, “One of my cast-mates could not make it to tech, so I had to substitute for him and do things like he normally would. I was so stressed! But it helped me live through the scene, really feeling it come to life.”

SDS was well received by the audience. Mint Sethbhakdi ’18 exclaimed, “It was really good — definitely worth the two hour wait in line.” Chloe Choi ’19 added, “I was so amazed at the talented student body we have. I wanted to get their autographs before I left. It was an eye-opening experience.”

SDS brought the Choate community together. Held in the intimate setting of the Gelb Theatre, the play touched audience members and was the perfect way to display the talents and culmination of the eleven directors. If you missed it, be sure to check out Student Directed Scenes next year on the Gelb stage.

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