"Nobody Sleeps" By: Guernsey Le Pelley. Directed By: Danielle Hauer


A few months ago, I signed up for a class that I knew little about. The class, Directing, was something I had never explored before in my eight years of theatre experience. I have always been the type to find my theatre enjoyment by either watching a production or performing in one on stage. The thought of actually directing a production intimidated me a little. However, when my professor told me months ago that I should take the class because I might be really good at directing, I was enticed by the experiential challenge.
Soon after signing up for the class, I began to explore all types of scripts. I hadn’t realized until that point just how little my knowledge was of theatrical literature. I made it a personal goal of mine to read as many scripts as possible not only to find a good production piece, but also to build my knowledge of certain playwrights and styles. Eventually, my search paid off and I found an interesting one act. I had chosen to direct “Nobody Sleeps” by Guernsey Le Pelley.
“Nobody Sleeps” is a comedic one act about a quirky family and its unique interaction with a house burglar. Most families would be afraid to find a burglar in their home, but that is not the case with The Busbys. Rather than call the police, the crime-obsessed family finds pure enjoyment out of ridiculing and criticizing the work done by an amateur burglar in their home. The mother of the family is actually a novelist who writes mystery stories; thus, her and her daughters seem to know the ends and outs of what it takes to be a successful burglar. Spike, the burglar, finds himself in an awful predicament with the women, since he proves to be a total “flop” as a burglar. Toward the end of the one act, Spike eventually comes to terms with his unsuccessful attempt at being a burglar due to the antagonism supplied by Mrs. Busby.
After having read my script numerous times and devising a plan of performance, I was excited to finally be able to cast my show. I already had every detail about my production planned in my mind from what the set will look like to what my characters will look and act like. I wanted Spike to be a noticeably awkward and nervous burglar. He was to be a man close to forty years old, with a dopey presence. Mrs. Busby, the mother of the home and novelist of mystery stories, was to be a woman full of energy and very dramatic in her speech and movements. Her three daughters- Glory, Ada and Daisy- would have unique personalities as well. Glory is the oldest of the three sisters, about twenty years old. Her character was to be rather gorgeous and flirtatious. The second youngest sister, Ada, was to be a somewhat plain and sarcastic eighteen-year-old. The youngest sister, Daisy, was to be a very immature and bubbly thirteen-year-old.
As a class, we held our auditions early in November. From the amount of actors and actresses that showed up, it was obvious that there would be slim-pickings between our eight directors. I found casting to be a rather challenging part of the production process. Although I had a clear mindset of what I wanted my cast to look like, I found only a few people who were actually perfect for some of my roles. For instance, I knew right away after Kate Wooters auditioned that I wanted her to play my cast’s mother, Mrs. Busby. I had a pretty good idea who I wanted to play my other characters; however, being able to obtain them was quite difficult. Since we had a rather large directing class, a lot of actors and actresses were traded and argued over numerous times. I even ended up having to share an actress with another director. By the end of the casting process, I was satisfied with my selected cast. My cast included: Kate Wooters, senior theatre major from Moweaqua, Ill., as Mrs. Busby; Kayla Vanderbilt, freshman history education major from Lemont, Ill., as Daisy; Kayla Pickel, sophomore criminal justice and psychology major from Taylorville, Ill., as Ada; Shauna Peters, junior music major from Kirksville, Mo., as Glory; and Andrew Rutherford, senior art major from Decatur, Ill., as Spike.
Later in November, we were allowed to start having actual one act rehearsals. I began my rehearsals on November 30th, 2009 and had one or more rehearsals daily following that date till our first technical performance on December10th. I felt like my rehearsals had their fair share of good days versus bad days. For instance, for my first few rehearsals, I continuously had an actor/actress show up late or not even at all. Absences and showing up tardy were a huge frustration of mine, since I literally had two weeks to work with my cast and crew before the show performed. I made it a point after the first few late arrivals to tell my cast that my work is a reflection of their work. If I choose to be a bad director, then they will look like a bad bunch of actors. Similarly, if they choose to put no effort into their acting, then I look like a bad director. Luckily neither I nor my cast wanted to look bad in front of anyone, so we buckled down and really got to work on our production.
Our rehearsals began with a few read-throughs. Eventually those turned into rehearsals with added blocking. As my cast got more familiar with their lines and we actually had a set with props to work with, I noticed that the flow of my production was getting a lot better. Towards the end of rehearsals, it was exciting to watch my cast experiment and try new things since they were finally comfortable in their roles. The original play that I thought I had all planned out had changed minimally due to the creative input given by some of my cast. For instance, I had never planned on Spike falling backwards in the chair. It was actually put into our show after Kate mistakenly threw him down into the chair a little too hard which caused him to fall and the rest of us to explode with laughter. After that, I knew I had to incorporate that scene into my final production.
Eventually, it was time to start working on technical issues within my production. The idea of learning behind the scenes technical stuff intimidated me a little. I had never really worked tech. before. Much to my surprise, I really enjoyed the technical aspects. I learned how to accurately hang lights and curtains, which made for a well-rounded stage appeal. I also got to learn how to use the light and sound board, and then teach my technician how to operate it as well. All of my hard work backstage had a profound impact on my new-found ability to direct a play. I finally felt confident in my role as the director by being able to understand fully all the parts that go into producing a final product.
Finally, it was the day of performance on December 12th. Needless to say, I had an immense amount of emotions racing through me. I had never felt these many emotions before as simply an actress. Since I was the director, I felt like I was the parent of something huge and theatrically thought-provoking and spectacular. Being the parent caused me to feel emotions ranging from excitement, nervousness, anxiousness to fear. I was excited to see my cast perform in front of an actual audience. I was nervous for their success as well as mine. I was afraid that if my cast were to mess up on stage, I couldn’t be there as another actor to save them. Lastly, I was very anxious to see just how well the audience would respond to the work done by my cast and me in our overall production.

Posted at 10:34 AM by Danielle Hauer

"Nobody Sleeps" Directed By: Danielle Hauer- Continued


Luckily, my cast and crew did a fantastic job both days of performance; even though I think they had more energy on the first opening day than the later. The audience seemed to really enjoy the show which made me ecstatic. I had never felt such an overwhelming sense of accomplishment before in theatre when I was simply the actress. I was now in the position in which I created something awesome and shared it with a large amount of people. All of my hard work had paid off and it felt good to say, “Yeah, I directed that.” Looking around at my fellow class members, it was fair to say they all felt the same way about their efforts as directors throughout this whole process as well.
The opening performances were a blast. I thought every show was unique an entertaining to watch. I found it quite intriguing that each play showed a subtle quality relating to its individual director. For instance, Sean’s one act, “The Midlife Crisis of Dionysus” had the same faced-pace, rushed quality to it that Sean himself exemplifies. Whitney’s one act, “The FiancĂ©” had the same dramatic and though-provoking appeal to it in which I see everyday in Whitney. Even Teri’s one act, “The Actor’s Nightmare” showed glimmers of Teri’s taste in rhetorical humor. I absolutely loved watching everyone’s pieces.
Ultimately, I am very grateful for the experience I obtained as a director. I enjoyed the experience so much that I look forward to directing again sometime in the future. Another thing I can say about directing that had an impact on me was that it taught me as an actress to not be afraid to venture outside my comfort zone. Next time I go into a production as an actress, I will have a better understanding of what the director is wanting from me. I will know that it is acceptable and encouraged to move based on my own instinct, and to show my director that I am willing to try new things.

Posted at 10:32 AM by Danielle Hauer

Bert's Golf Pants


It has been a long and interesting experience for both me and my cast as I found out through talking to them about how comfortable they felt about where they were at if they had to perform this tomorrow, which is how we ended every rehearsal. For the longest time their answer was no, as was mine, because we just couldn't get everything to click. One day it would be lines the other something else. Mostly we weren't acting together. All of a sudden last week we decided as a group that wed. night we were going to do a second rehearsal. That night we ended up forgetting a few lines and when we started talking about it they felt something wasn't right in the section and so then they forgot their lines. So we decided to work that area and then some more areas and I began to see what they were talking about. At first I thought that it was just them forgetting their lines and being too caught up with it but then as we looked at it farther it was more. So by working the parts we found the root of what was wrong and then worked them all til everyone was comfortable and inter that fixed most of the forgetting lines and the awkward feeling due to those missing parts. Then at the end of rehearsal I asked again if everyone was comfortable if they had to preform tomorrow and the answer was yes, which is how I felt. I have gotten to see one performance so far and they did very well had a technical glitch but that happens but I was very proud of my cast and crew for getting through it and doing so well. We have one more perform Monday night at 7:30 and I know that everything will be fine. This has been an experience I would never give up. Over all through good and bad I have enjoyed every moment and it has given me the opportunity to grow. Thanks to my cast and crew for all their dedication and thanks to Jeff, Haidee, and Kent for helping with any question I had. I fell this a great opportunity for anyone.

Posted at 12:45 PM by Heather Tranbarger

Panic! in the BlackBox


It was a little more than a week ago ( a week and a day to be precise) when I sat on the floor of my dorm room and read the syllabus from my first Directing class aloud to a couple of fellow students who were also taking the class. A little over a week ago that I sent out a mass text message to my cast of students announcing my rehearsal (I should really start utilizing my e-mail, shouldn't I? ) and went to bed worrying a bit about the difficulty of the coursework ahead of me.
It was exactly a week ago today that I headed to my first ever directing class along with seven of my fellow directors. Upon arriving, we all huddled into our professor's office and began to discuss rehearsals and when we planned to have them, when she, Dr. Haidee Heaton, the teacher of the class, could come in and see them to make sure we weren't completely floundering, and also set the dates upon which they would run. Needless to say, as it often is in the three week portion of the curriculum, there was going little time to process what was going on before it actually happened and that evening after our first discussion, I was holding my first rehearsal.
I'd like to tell you that I was in complete and total control of the situation, that I knew exactly what I wanted from my three actresses and that I had a picture in my head of how I wanted it to run but as I'm sure you can probably predict, I didn't. I set up an ugly couch (really... 70's fashion and floral patterns never should have existed) and a rickety old convertable chair and told my cast to do what felt natural to them and they went from there.
I've experienced a few hiccups along the way- Friday I realized that my blocking (how and where the actors move on the set) wasn't working and had to fix it the following rehearsal, along with how the furniture was configured. I had to basically have my cast start from scratch after four days of rehearsal (which is equivalent to weeks considering our schedule) and began to panic to myself because of the error I had made.
It wasn't until yesterday, the 6th of December, that everything came together within my rehearsal- the blocking was decent, the lines seemed to gel, and the story and the characters came to life. It was the first time that I became genuinely excited about the process, that I didn't just see the flaws within my directing style but also the promise and potential within the story and my cast.
The play that I'm directing is not quite a comedy and not quite a drama- it lies somewhere inbetween. It revolves around three people- or teenagers- Diane (played by soph. Erin Carmody), 15, Jackie (played by freshman Hollyann Lillie), 13, who are sisters and Jessica (played by freshman Meghan Townley), 17, their cousin, who all come from broken homes. Diane was invited out to meet her sister's fiance and feins sickness when confronted with the dinner. From there comes an exploration of the family's crisies and Diane's desperation to keep from repeating their many mistakes.
The actresses that I have cast have gone above and beyond what I expected and I can honestly say that I'm excited about the next few days of rehearsal- I can't wait for everything to come full circle with the lights, sounds, and costumes. I know in the end that the stress that I felt at the beginning (and still do but whatever- it'll happen how it needs to happen) will all be worth it because of the pay off at the end. So, here's to the my first directing experience and my minor panic attack at the beginning- and to hoping that everything goes off without a hitch.

Posted at 11:53 PM by Whitney Colston

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