Performance venues abound in Aurora and surrounding suburbs. What’s missing, according to Heidi Schultz of The Riverfront Playhouse in Aurora, are opportunities for aspiring directors.
“There aren’t many opportunities for local theater people to learn what it takes to direct in a small theater outside of colleges and universities,” Schultz said. “Directing is more than telling people where and when to move during the play. They need to learn as much about the business side as the artistic side of producing a piece.
To help combat the scarcity of directing opportunities, Schultz is hosting a directing workshop that started June 27 and ends July 5. Eight participants learn the basics of directing and have the chance to direct short scenes by local playwrights.
“The purpose of the director’s workshop is to give people who have never directed before the opportunity to direct a small show in order to prepare them for the whole process of producing a main stage play. complete in two acts,” Schultz said.
Schultz leads the workshop with the help of his brother, Jackson Schultz, who helped structure the workshop, and Jake Murphy, who participates in part of the program.
“We will have a panel of current Riverfront directors overnight to give attendees an opportunity to get varied opinions on different topics and strategies regarding the process,” Schultz said. “Our guest panel will include Sherry Winchester Schultz, Gene Scheffler, Gary Puckett, Jackson Schultz and Jake Murphy.”
Schultz said the workshop consists primarily of lectures and exercises. “Once you know the basics, it’s about your vision for a show and trying to convey that through actors, sets, lights, props, etc.,” she said. declared.
“The members of the Riverfront Playhouse have always determined that you learn more in front of an audience than in rehearsal or in class. The same can be said for achievement. We can attend classes for weeks, but you really won’t learn anything until you actually do it.
Each director will direct a scene. Schultz has asked local playwrights to provide scenes with two to three people and the directors will decide which scene they would like to direct.
“It gives directors a chance to work on just one scene rather than one act, so they get a smaller slice of the action,” Schultz said. “Craig Gustafson and Katie Lentz have written a few tracks for us so far.”
Schultz said playwrights also benefit from the workshop.
“We give local writers the opportunity to have their scenes performed,” she said, “which is also a perfect fit for the Playhouse. We’ve worked with local playwrights before and had great results. Our audiences love it. being able to see original pieces and works at the Riverfront that they won’t see anywhere else.
As part of the directing workshop, actor auditions will take place and new directors will select actors for each scene. The auditions will take place on July 6 and 7. Call 630 897-9496 or email [email protected]
“Anyone with even a slight interest should audition,” Schultz said. “No experience is necessary. New directors will be part of the casting process. Casting your show is an important part of directing and many theater people who have never directed before don’t realize how difficult it can be. It is a difficult process, but it is extremely important to go through it.
The workshop will conclude with performances on the Riverfront Playhouse stage in front of a live audience on August 5 and 6. Performances will be free, but donations will be accepted.
“The length of the night will depend on how long the scenes are,” Schultz said. “The aim is for each scene to be played twice – once per night. If there are particularly long scenes, we could spread them between the nights, but I would like all participants to have the chance to be seen by people stopping by for First Fridays. The Riverfront doesn’t get many opportunities to participate in First Fridays, and we love what First Fridays events have done for downtown Aurora.
Although the nearby Paramount Theater offers a number of classes, Schultz thinks the Riverfront Workshops fill a specific niche.
“This workshop is much less formal,” she said. “It’s not a very long-term commitment and it’s very specific to staging at smaller theaters like the Riverfront and other local suburban and urban theaters.” Ultimately, the workshop will help keep things fresh for The Riverfront Playhouse.
“The Riverfront wanted to open its doors to new directors, new actors and new ideas,” Schultz said. “New ideas breathe new life into our theatre. It helps keep our Riverfront regulars inspired and our audiences coming back for more.
Randall G. Mielke is a freelance journalist for the Beacon-News.