By Kayla Lutes, Staff Writer
Asbury is awash with students being given real-life experience in what will soon be their job field — from internships with organizations around the world, to traveling to Sochi for the Olympics. For a handful of theatre students this year, this hands-on career-building came in the form of directing their own shows.
For senior Abigail Foster (pictured above) and junior Allison Acuff (pictured below), directing a show was both challenging and a dream come true. In Foster’s case, directing a show this semester was also a necessity. “Because I’m a double major in theatre and communications, a lot of my classes had scheduling conflicts this semester,” said Foster. “I had to direct a show to meet all my theatre major requirements.”
Foster directed “Numbers,” a show she described as being “Mean Girls meets Lord of the Flies” that takes place at an all-girls boarding school. Since she focused on her communications major for most of her college career, she described the show as “life altering.” “This show made me fall in love with theatre all over again in a new way — except this time I wasn’t out on stage acting, I was realizing my vision for the show as a director,” said Foster.
Both directors put a lot of heart and work into their shows. “Though ‘Numbers’ was fairly simple on the technical side, I made up all of the blocking, lighting transitions, costumes and set design myself,” said Foster.
Her cast made the work worth it. “I loved watching my wildly talented cast grow into their roles and in their relationships,” said Foster. “Often, these girls would be at rehearsals way before the scheduled time just to run lines. It’s this dedication from the cast that inspired me to be the director I knew they deserved.”
Acuff praised her cast as well, using the word “surreal” to describe her experience. She added, “I could not have asked for a more driven, talented and supportive creative team.”
Both Foster and Acuff found the thought of directing a show scary at first, but both directors knew that on the other side of their shows, they would come out closer to their goals. Acuff quoted Ralph Waldo Emerson, saying, “‘Always do what you are afraid to do.’”
For Acuff, her show and this idea go hand-in-hand. She said, “’Decision Height’ is about following your dreams, no matter the risk of failure, no matter other’s expectations—no matter the cost. I’m surrounded by an incredibly talented team. My actors are courageously vulnerable; my designers have fearless ingenuity. Working alongside them, my fears become insignificant and my dreams, more attainable.”
Foster’s experience as a director shifted her dreams in ways she did not anticipate. “I’ve had a tunnel vision on for solely pursuing public relations,” said Foster. “This show helped me to realize my passion for working in the arts in some form. Ideally, I’d like to work on the public relations team for a theatre company. But I’m also keeping my options open to other possibilities in directing or teaching theatre in the future.”
“Numbers” was performed Oct. 24. Foster only had good things to say about directing, suggesting that perhaps this is a route more students should try to pursue during their time at Asbury. “I truly loved my directing experience — I love telling stories that deserve to be told.”
“Decision Height” runs one weekend: Nov. 12, 13 and 14. House opens at 7 p.m. and the show starts at 7:30. “Tickets are $5, which is the price of a really good latte plus tax — aka, totally worth it,” said Acuff.