The story of the student director

Posted by Robin Barr - 01 October, 2014

Student Director Seth WatringWhen The Turn of the Screw opens on Halloween night, it will not be under the direction of drama teacher Connie Voight. Instead, student director Seth Watring '15 will be calling the shots.

Seth is new to directing, but not to the stage. He says his first performance was as a Kindergartner and he would estimate that over the years he’s been a part of 40-45 productions! Seth does not limit his theater or musical experiences to Randolph, but has also been active in local theater groups such as Fantasy Playhouse and Ars Nova.

Mrs. Voight says she first considered having Seth direct a play when she observed him as student director in last fall’s production of To See the Stars.

“He did a great job, and that gave me confidence that he could handle directing on his own.” Seth is only the second student Mrs. Voight has allowed to direct a play in her 15 years at Randolph.

When Mrs. Voight approached Seth about directing the upcoming show, he was excited but also a bit nervous. How would his friends react to him as the director and not another actor? Would they listen to him? Would they follow his direction?

Once he made the decision to direct The Turn of the Screw, he sat down and talked it over with other members of Theatre Randolph. “I asked them, ‘Is this going to be okay?’ Are you guys going to be serious about this?’ Everyone was very supportive and assured me they would not goof off, and would treat me just like they would Mrs. Voight,” Seth said.

He went on to say,” I was not surprised by their reaction; it’s what I expected from students here. It’s just a Randolph thing.”

Seth says the best thing about being a director has been witnessing those times when people finally break out of old habits and routines and try something different. “When that happens and it works, I just shout out, YES! Those moments make all the hard work worth it.”

“The worst or most difficult part of being a first-time director”, he says, “is all the things that are new and that I never had to deal with as an actor, for example, those small but important details like the best lighting or sound techniques for a particular scene.”

The Turn of the Screw is a psychological thriller based on a novella by Henry James. Seth says he hopes audiences will notice all the little details and intricacies of the story and be “enthralled, from beginning to end.”

Seth is a senior in the thick of the college selection process. He plans to pursue a major in music and theater education. When I asked him what he’d like to see himself doing in the future, he answered, “I would love to come back here and teach at Randolph. The support the faculty provides for students is amazing. This is the kind of place and these are the kind of students I’d like to teach!”

I asked Seth why he is choosing a career behind the stage and not on it, in light of all the experiences he’s had as an actor. His quick answer makes me think, he’s been asked this question before. He said, “Theater tells a story at every level. From a small black box theater in Mobile to the Broadway stage in New York City, you tell a story. I think that’s also true in an educational setting, and that’s the story I want to tell.”
Bravo, and good luck, Seth!

The Turn of the Screw runs October 31-November 2. Tickets are available online.

Topics: Arts, character, School Culture, drama, friends, High Expectations, My favorite place, professional development, teachers, The Turn of the Screw, Theatre Randolph, Upper School

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