Behind the Scenes with Shooting Simone

Serena Runyan

This Wednesday, the student-directed production of Lynne Kaufman’s play Shooting Simone will open on Whitman campus. This comedy, set in 20th century Paris, deals with love, love affairs, feminism, and the fallibility of truth. The Pioneer asked a few questions of the cast, stage manager, and student  director to get to know the close-knit team that has put endless hours into this production.

DIRECTOR- Ryan Campeau

Photo contributed by Campeau

Pioneer: Have you directed any plays before?

Ryan Campeau: I have directed two plays for the One-Act Play Contest — “The Station” this spring and “Midnight Chimes” in spring 2011 — and many short theater pieces, some of which were collaborations with friends on short plays they had written. My favorite theater experiences have always been the projects I have collaborated on with my friends — theater time is social time!

Pioneer: How has it been working on this play compared to your past experiences?

RC: Shooting Simone has been my most extensive directing experience by far. For the One-Acts, I would get the script in December and rehearse with actors for four weeks in January-February. For Shooting Simone, I picked out the script in February of this year and have been solidly working on it since May. It’s been both wonderful and daunting to be working on a piece of this magnitude, really wanting to put my heart and soul into the production and trying to be as prepared/informed as possible about what the play is about and the esthetic I wanted to achieve. I have also never worked with such a large budget — it’s incredible getting to see my designers’ plans really come to fruition in beautiful ways. Working with a guest lighting designer (a professional brought in two weeks prior to the opening show) has also given me a lot of perspective on how the process differs for professional theater people. Basically, being able to really take my time on the process, both prior to and then during rehearsals with the actors, has been unique to this process.

Pioneer: What’s been your favorite part of directing Shooting Simone?

RC: I am so happy with the community that has developed between myself, my designers, and my cast. There is nothing like working on a show to bring people together, and I’m really going to miss the our work time together as well as the outside-the-theater cheese-tasting and cafe outings we did as a group.

STAGE MANAGER- Madeline Levy

Photo contributed by Levy
Pioneer: What do people not realize about the stage manager job?
Madeline Levy: In general, people outside the theatre don’t realize how much falls under the Stage Manager job description. A good Stage Manager makes the show run smoothly, from rehearsals to performances, which includes a lot that you wouldn’t even imagine needs to happen. The catch  with recognition is that if a Stage Manager is doing their job well, the audience won’t be aware of them. That said, most people who have worked on a show understand the amount of work Stage Managers do and appreciate it.
Pioneer: What’s one thing you’ve learned from this experience?
ML:Specifically, I learned how to run a technical rehearsal and a lot about how Harper Joy Theatre works. In general, I’ve learned more about the importance of communication and planning – skills that are valuable in the theatre and outside it.

 

CAST

Caroline Rensel

Photo contributed by Rensel

Pioneer:What has been your favorite experience working on the show?

Caroline Rensel: My favorite part of this experience has been getting to know our cast and wonderful crew and working in the black box.  The black box is such a different way of doing theatre than I am used to, and I have really enjoyed the challenge and the freedom that the space provides.
Pioneer:What’s something you didn’t expect beforehand?

CR:In preparing for this role I was surprised by how much I enjoyed researching Simone de Beauvoir.  She was a fascinating person.  I did not expect to relate to her as much as I found myself doing in reading sections of her books or biographies.

Nicholas Khor

Photo contributed by Khor

Pioneer: What has been your favorite experience working on the show?

Nicholas Khor: I loved working with a small, intimate cast––We all became very close, very quickly. Having a show that is (almost!) entirely student run also provided a unique  experience.

Pioneer: What’s something you didn’t expect beforehand?

NK:Performing in a space like the Black Box, with our seating arrangement, posed a challenge. It goes against many elements of traditional blocking. The backstage area is also a lot smaller.

Alexander Foote

ng>Pioneer: What has been your favorite experience working on the show?

Alexander Foote: My favorite experience in doing this show, as it is with most theatre in my experience, is the bonding that happens. We’ve all become very close friends–we trust each other and can count on one another. I really appreciate
Pioneer:What’s something you didn’t expect beforehand?
AF: I did not expect how much time I would be putting into it! It’s a huge commitment–for tech weekend alone I was in the theatre for 20 hours total over two days. But it’s all very much worth it.

Susannah Ellis

Photo contributed by Ellis
Pioneer: What has been your favorite experience working on the show?

AF: There have been a lot of really enjoyable experiences. Personally I’ve really enjoyed getting to wear all those costumes. Hannah McNamara did a wonderful job designing the costumes for this show.

Pioneer: What’s something you didn’t expect beforehand?

SE: This is my first time working with a space where the audience surrounds the stage. I expected this kind of theater in the round experience to be challenging but I was surprised to discover how much I really enjoy working in it.

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