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    • Roy, Eveland, and Toft rehearse their one-act, Just Zoo It.

Students Perform and Direct One-Act Plays in Lovell Hall

Zach Williamson ’22
On December 5 and 6, the Hopkins Drama Association (HDA) put on Post-It Notes, a set of eleven one-act plays, directed by Mike Calderone and students within the HDA community.
Eight HDA members directed their own one-acts, including Margaret Toft ’21, Leah Miller ’20, Petey Graham ’20, Brooklynn Brockenberry ’21, Griffin Congdon ’20, Drew Slager ’21, Graley Turner ’20, and Eli Calderone ’22. Directors, with the exception of Toft, who wrote her own one-act, selected their scenes from a collection of one-acts entitled Great Short Comedies. Miller’s selection, Home for the Chalidays, centers upon a suburban Jewish family that comes home to find that their house has been robbed. On why she chose her scene, Miller remarked, “When leafing through the options, I thought it was hilarious and different than a lot of the other ones I had seen.”

The one-act plays in Post-It Notes center upon relationships, both romantic and platonic. In selecting the production’s one-acts, Mike Calderone endeavored to keep this thread throughout; he commented, “In the past, I was able to find a series of one-acts written by the same author that tied them all together. But this time, even though I found the plays in a collection of one-acts, they were not written by the same author nor were they written under a similar theme. I did, however, choose scenes that highlighted moments in the course of the characters’ personal and romantic relationships: the first meeting, the first date, marriage, getting old together.”

Another theme of the production came from Slager’s one-act, entitled Post-Its (Notes on a Marriage), which follows the arc of a relationship from beginning to end as told through the Post-It notes a couple leaves for each other. The set of Post-It Notes included two twelve-foot stage flats covered with over 1,000 Post-It notes. Calderone said, “I was thinking of ways to include Post-Its in the scenery and remembered that Hopkins math teacher, Dr. Dan Gries, is also an accomplished visual artist. Dr. Gries’ work is based on color theory and algorithms where colors positioned in a certain pattern give the effect of a gradient. He and I worked for a few weeks planning out stage flats covered with Post-It notes according to one of his algorithms.” Props used in student-directed scenes also included Post-It notes. Calderone continued, “I asked all of the student directors to incorporate post-it notes somewhere in their plays: on a clipboard, a waitress pad, or a students’ textbook.”

In the process of rehearsals, student directors involved with Post-It Notes aimed to include new warmups and others familiar to seasoned HDA members. Toft, for example, used warmups foreign to actors in her scene to help them learn to trust their instincts and develop their characters. Elizabeth Roy ’20 reflected, “We would often do char- acter work where you start on one side of the stage as one character and cross the stage while saying a line. On the other side we turn around and become a different character before repeating the cross with a new line and different physicalizations. She really challenged us to think on our feet.” Anand Choudhary ’22, an actor in one of Calderone’s scenes, Who’s a Good Boy (which centers on one dog’s quest to find a missing tennis ball), was intrigued by new techniques introduced into rehearsals as well. He said, “Many of the warm up exercises we’ve done have concentrated on ensuring that subplots, the relations between the protagonist and other characters, don’t overtake the wider plot of the scene. Of course, there’s also that warm up where we just run after the ball with our tongues out and paws up!”
Toft wrote, directed, and acted in her own one-act, entitled Just Zoo It. It also stars Roy and Ty Eveland ’22, the former of whom aided Toft in the script-writing process. Roy said of Toft and her direction, “She’s a very generous director and performer. She always asked Ty and me to try new things and give feedback on the script. We worked as a cast for the first few weeks to workshop scenes and adjust jokes. It really feels like a play because even though we worked hard to make a good show, we still had a ton of fun with it.” Toft enjoyed the process of drafting her own piece; she remarked, “Writing my own show and directing it was quite the exciting challenge. Once I had written the piece and stopped making changes to it, the directing and acting was a breeze in comparison.” She continued, “I’m so grateful to Mike for allowing me to build my own show from scratch, and I learned so much from the experience.”

Directing their own pieces has provided seasoned HDA actors with a challenge different than those presented by working on a show under the direction of Calderone or Hope Hartup. Slager commented, “Directing was a position that was so much harder to fill than I ever expected. I never realized how much planning and thought goes in to directing a play, let alone one scene. It was a huge challenge but I loved the experience and look forward to directing in the future.” Congdon agreed with Slager, adding, “I gained a new perspective on the director-actor relationship through directing. It was a really fresh experience for me after acting in the past few shows, and gave me new insight into what goes into being a director.”
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