Theater festival will feature three student-directed plays

By Matthew Fowler, A&E Editor

Three plays. Three directors. Three motivations. 

And many challenges overcome.

As a project for Newman’s Directing II class, three seniors are independently directing plays that will be performed April 4-6. While all three students have been united by the project, the directing process has been unique to each.

Senior John Suffield is directing his own play adaptation of “The Voyage of the Dawn Treader” from the C.S. Lewis’ novel in “The Chronicles of Narnia” series. Suffield said that this play will provide him an opportunity to inspire the audience to find joy throughout life’s journeys.

“With this show, I really want to highlight how, even though it can be really long and drawn out sometimes, sometimes the journey is like that,” Suffield said. “Sometimes it is full of storms and all these crazy adventures… Sometimes you need to be in the moment and enjoy your surroundings and enjoy the journey getting to the destination.”

Senior Hunter Bartholomew is directing “Puffs,” a parody of “Harry Potter” written by Matt Cox that began as a long-form improv. Bartholomew is studying theater and education and considering teaching theater after Newman and said that this play provides him the opportunity to put his vision on stage and develop the skills he will need to be an effective teacher.

“I have done a lot of acting, but I had never really directed before this school year….I am going to be teaching kids and part of the job of a theater teacher is directing a play or the musicals at that school,’ and I was like, ‘I need to get some experience doing that,’” Bartholomew said.

Senior Catherine Madison is directing “Five Dwarfs and a Slipper: A Tale of Two Princesses” written by Newman graduate and current Technical Director Austin Schwartz. Madison said that she was grateful for the opportunity to direct her play.

“I have really enjoyed this whole process,” Madison said. “I am glad that I was given the opportunity to do a show. I needed this class to graduate, but also, I could have chosen a different class, but I chose this one because I want to put on a production and I knew that was a requirement for it.”

Madison said her choice of play allowed her the ability to collaborate with Schwartz on the play’s direction and deeply personalize the production.

“I chose a play written by my best friend Austin Schwartz, so I was able to ask him and collaborate with him on the style of play that he was going to write because it is brand new, tailored for me,” Madison said.

The directors said that they were grateful for Newman’s theater program, the Directing II class, and the actors in their plays. They said that they were able to work through and learn from the challenges they faced, which included scheduling conflicts, guiding new actors, and transitioning from acting to directing.

Suffield said that the theater department at Newman was like a family and he said that acting and directing allow individuals to find a way to express their individuality.

“Everyone cares so much for each other here, and theater, in general, allows the actor, the person involved, to be involved in a story that is something very beautiful and gives them that chance to show that story to someone else and just get to meet a lot of good people and express themselves,” Suffield said. “That’s what I’ve found with theater. I find it is a way to really express myself and let off a lot of steam and stress and just show my abilities.”

Admission for “The Out of the Box Play Festival” is free for Newman students, $5 for students outside Newman, and $10 for general admission at the door and will cover “Puffs” and “Five Dwarfs and a Slipper: A Tale of Two Princesses.” “The Voyage of the Dawn Treader” is free, but Suffield encourages donations.

“Five Dwarfs and a Slipper: A Tale of Two Princesses” will premiere at 6 p.m. on April 4 and at 7 p.m. on April 5 and 6. 

“Puffs” will be performed at 8 p.m. on April 4 and also have a showing at 8:30 p.m. on April 5.

“The Voyage of the Dawn Treader” will be performed at 2 and 8 p.m. on April 6.

PHOTO: Courtesy photo, Newman Theatre Department