By Nickey Siegerman
The spring semester is up and running in full force with Actors Creating Theatre. High off the success of “Legally Blonde” at the beginning of February, I’ve returned to talk about the next show our wonderful friends over ACT have been cooking up for us.
The President of the club, Ben Winn, received the green light earlier last summer to produce and direct his own creation, “The Briefcase.”
Since casting last month, this small crew has had about a month to prepare for the show, which any director or cast member who has put a show on in 30 days will tell you, is no easy feat.
I myself can attest to this. Immediately, the cast was tasked to begin memorizing and learning their blocking. But since the beginning stages, the group has stepped up to the challenge ten-fold and is ready for opening night.
I sat down and talked to Winn, curious of how he accomplished this goal of directing his own show for the first time, instead of the spring play, as he has for the last two years.
He started writing nearly five years ago when he had nothing to do in his woodshop class in high school. While waiting for his project to dry, he wrote out the basic plotline for the first draft.
He wouldn’t stop there. He then went on to do what he guesses is fifteen major re-writes, which included changing character development and major plot devices.
The story follows two high school seniors, Tom and Luke, who are about to graduate, but need to get through one last major test in their math class.
Their tough teacher, Dr. Howell, however, tells them not to get their hopes up, as they don’t stand a chance to pass. In fear of not graduating, they recruit the class pet, Atticus, to help them steal the test answers and ensure they won’t miss walking to get their diplomas.
Since this show was written by Winn, it’s clear he would have some expectations as to who would play his five characters. Winn told us that casting was indeed tough. For him and his assistant director Zachary Lentz, it came down to choosing five people and then finding where they fit best.
However, Winn felt that the most rewarding part of doing “The Briefcase” is his cast. “I’ve had this (idea) since high school and having these incredibly talented, hard-working people challenge the weaknesses of the script and applaud the strengths has made me feel very confident in my work, but it also seemingly has made them have a ton of fun, and that is what I was looking to foster the most,” Winn gushed.
“I’ve seen these people think critically about what their lines mean and try to compare them to their real-life experiences, and to hear what they say and what they think of this plot and its message is an absolute dream come true.”
With all Winn had to say about his show, we asked him if he had any words of advice for any other writers on campus looking to direct their own show. Winn said, “[If] they’re willing to accept any and all criticism that their project will face…it took me a lot of patience to get it approved for production, and my cast and crew have made some significant changes to the original script I gave them.
If you’re willing to keep working and wait for your best opportunity… then I’d say that passion and open-mindedness will get you where you want to be.”
“The Briefcase” opens this Thursday and runs until Saturday, tickets are $5 in the Schaeffer Little Theatre. Will you find out what’s inside?