Student director takes the stage

By Ethan Greenberger

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As the semester draws onward and winter begins to set in, we get ever closer to the opening of Ashland University’s production of “Marisol,” student directed by senior Lauren Yobbagy.

Yobbagy, who has been a part of many shows here at Ashland both on stage and behind the scenes, has been preparing for this job for a long time.

“Last year I was in a class, Theater History III, and in that class you have to do a dramaturgy project, which means you have to pick a play and research everything having to do with it,” Yobbagy said.

“I saw “Marisol” when I was a junior in high school and it just always stuck with me so that’s the play I chose,”

She offered it in her senior project proposal and it was approved.

Being a student director is a long and involved process beginning far before the play is even cast. As a student director, Yobbagy has a faculty advisor and co-director, theatre department chair Dr. Teresa Durbin-Ames, to help her along the way.

“It’s like any other play, but when I don’t know what to do, there is someone there who can guide me along and offer me some support,” Yobbagy said.

“So, if I don’t know what I am doing, then she’ll know what to do. It’s a learning process for me, but I am still very much involved.”

Yobaggy meets with Durbin-Ames three or more times a week to discuss aspects of the play and, rather than split up the play’s direction between the two directors, they have decided to do everything together.

“We are meeting three times a week to go over the themes of the play and we are starting to rough block [planning the actors’ movements on stage] the play together,” Yobaggy said. “We thought about doing it separately, but then we decided that it was too organic to do that.”

Yobbagy described the complicated process of directing a play and everything that is involved in making the curtain go up on opening night.

“You pick a play and then you do a lot of research on it,” Yobaggy said.

“[You then] start having meetings with your production staff; scenic, lighting, and costumes designers, and the props master and you start tossing out ideas.”

Yobaggy and Durbin-Ames provided important themes the production team and then meets often to discuss the important aspects of the play, how the scenic and lighting and costumes can support that, she said.

Directing one’s own peers can be hard both for the director and for students, but the students here at Ashland seem to have no problem with it.

“So far, everyone has been respectful and very understanding that I am a director and that they need to give me the same respect and courtesy that they would give a faculty member,” Yobbagy said.

“I think that the people in the Ashland theater department are very professional, so that’s very helpful.”

After working on the show, Yobbagy has a feeling directing and management is where she wants to go with her career.

“Throughout my time here at Ashland I have done acting, stage management, I have worked in the costume shop, on lighting and in the construction shop, and the two things I am passionate about are stage management and directing,” Yobaggy said.

“I think directing is where I want to go,” she added.

With her time at Ashland slowly drawing to a close, Yobbagy has been planning her future in theater.

“When I leave here I am going to pursue an MFA in directing and I think this is where I want to go with my life,” she aid.

But for now, she has “Marisol” to focus on. With the show opening in November and the staging of the play about to begin, one can be sure that both directors will have their hands full making it the best they possibly can.

As the semester draws onward and winter begins to set in, we get ever closer to the opening of Ashland University’s production of “Marisol,” student directed by senior Lauren Yobbagy.

Yobbagy, who has been a part of many shows here at Ashland both on stage and behind the scenes, has been preparing for this job for a long time.

“Last year I was in a class, Theater History III, and in that class you have to do a dramaturgy project, which means you have to pick a play and research everything having to do with it. I saw “Marisol” when I was a junior in high school and it just always stuck with me so that’s the play I chose,” Yobbagy said.

“I offered it in my proposal as a junior to be my senior project and they said yes.”

Being a student director is a long and involved process beginning far before the play is even cast. As a student director, Yobbagy has a faulty advisor and co-director, Dr. Durbin-Ames, chair of the theater department, to help her along the way.

“It’s like any other play, but when I don’t know what to do, there is someone there who can guide me along and offer me some support,” Yobbagy said.

“So, if I don’t know what I am doing, then she’ll know what to do. It’s a learning process for me, but I am still very much involved.”

Yobaggy meets with Dr. Durbin-Ames three or more times a week to discuss aspects of the play and, rather than split up the play’s direction between the two directors, they have decided to do everything together.

“We are meeting three times a week to go over the themes of the play and we are starting to rough block [planning the actors’ movements on stage] the play together. We thought about doing it separately, but then we decided that it was too organic to do that,” Yobbagy said.

Yobbagy described the complicated process of directing a play and everything that is involved in making the curtain go up on opening night.

“You pick a play and then you do a lot of research on it. [You then] start having meetings with your production staff; scenic, lighting, and costumes designers, and the props master and you start tossing out ideas. Myself and Dr. Durbin-Ames came up with the themes that we thought were the most important, so we give those out to the production team. We then meet all the time to discuss the important aspects of the play how the scenic and lighting and costumes can support that,” Yobbagy said.

Being a student director, directing one’s own peers can be hard both for the director and for students, but the students here at Ashland seem to have no problem with it.

“So far, everyone has been respectful and very understanding that I am a director and that they need to give me the same respect and courtesy that they would give a faculty member,” Yobbagy said. “I think that the people in the Ashland theater department are very professional, so that’s very helpful.”

After working on the show, Yobbagy has a feeling directing and management is where she wants to go with her career.

“Throughout my time here at Ashland I have done acting, stage management, I have worked in the costume shop, on lighting and, in the construction shop and the two things I am passionate about are stage management and directing and I think directing is where I want to go.”

With her time at Ashland slowly drawing to a close, Yobbagy has been planning her future in theater.

“When I leave here I am going to pursue an MFA in directing and I think this is where I want to go with my life,” Yobbagy said.

With the show opening in November and the staging of the play about to begin, one can be sure that both directors will have their hands full making it the best they possibly can.

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