Not Falling Short

A closer look at how the directors prepare for Shorts

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The Yearbook Staff

“We hope the viewer had an inclination to travel to France, as we hoped our introduction to Parisian culture served as a gateway to those unaware of such life outside of the Bishops walls!” Dylan Lodl (‘20) {from left to right: Enrico Tridenti (‘21), Alek Navarro (‘22) in “La Mouche”}

Alex Cotton, Copy Editor

From left to right: Jess Li (‘20) and Claire Nelson (‘20) in “Liberal Arts College”

Every year at the start of spring, the Performing Arts Department kicks off its busy season with the Shorts Festival, one of the more unconventional shows at Bishop’s. It consists of a series of short plays, or Shorts, directed by the seniors of Acting Workshop and faculty members.

Enrico Tridenti (‘21) played a loud and clumsy french waiter in “La Mouche”

This year, the plays were La Mouche directed by senior Dylan Lödl, The Role of Della directed by senior Sydney Gerlach, Liberal Arts College directed by senior Margo Lyons, 3 A.M. Wake-Up Call directed by senior Gabe Worstell, 3 Guys and a Brenda directed by middle school drama and choral music director Ms. Lara Korneychuk, Estudio en blanco y negro directed by world languages instructed Dra. Marda Rose, and There Shall Be No Bottom (A Bad Play for Worse Actors) directed by Elise Thuresson.

The first step that all directors have to complete is picking a short. This happens in a myriad of ways; one of the directors, Gabe, got his short from a list that previous Theater Director Ms. Courtney Flanagan had given him. He explained that the short he chose stuck out to him in particular because “it was a short that I had seen done and wanted to put my own spin on it and I got to choose a really funny play that’s a little racier then perhaps a main stage production.” In his short, Bill [Sabrina Webster (‘21)] calls up his friend Bob [Joseph Aguilar (‘22)] to get his assistance on what to do with a dead body in his car trunk.

Other directors select their plays to mirror current events. Middle School Drama and Choral Music Director Ms. Korneychuk, for example, directed a short called Three Guys and a Brenda. “It’s essentially a satirical 

piece about office romance,” she said. “I found it particularly funny yet poignant in light of the #MeToo movement.” In the play, the playwright Adam Bock satirizes male behavior in the workplace by having all the male characters portrayed by non-male actors. “The silly, often ridiculous, behavior of these ‘three guys’ in the workplace only feels more ridiculous when portrayed by people we don’t normally see behaving this way,” Ms. Korneychuk continued. “There are some genuine moments, for sure, but the majority of the play seems to be making a statement about toxic masculinity.”

from left to right: Elisabeth Holm (‘20) and Maddie Ishayik (‘23) played coworkers in “3 Guys and a Brenda”

World Languages Teacher Dra. Rose talked about what she liked about her short, saying, “the short I am directing, Estudio en Blanco y Negro by Virgilio Piñera, seems very simplistic on the surface; however, it offers a profound commentary on arguments and adhering to a point of view without listening to the other side.”

Once they select a play, the director must cast their play. All of the directors held their auditions at once at the beginning of the school year. Gabe went into auditions with a plan: “I came into auditions with a clear idea of what I wanted to do with my characters, and Sabrina and Joseph really captured that.”

This worked well for Gabe in the next step in the process—rehearsal. Because he had such natural comedic actors, he found his job as director much easier. “As someone who’s never directed before, it was a little hard to get out of the headspace,” he explained. “For the past four years, all I have done is act.” This feeling of navigating uncharted territory was universal amongst the directors, so they all faced some road bumps. Sydney said, “Shorts has been an eye-opening experience into the logistical and artistic challenges that come with directing.” In Sydney’s short, Emma, an actor, played by Sabrina Webster (‘21) sabotaging the audition of Elizabeth, played by Dolce Feenaghty (‘22).

Margo found it difficult directing her peers. She said, “My cast is super fun and sometimes it’s hard to wrangle them because they are my peers but also my actresses.” Her short was about a midnight conversation between college friends Heidi played by Maddie Ishayik (‘23), Tessa played by Whitney Hejmanowski (‘21), Jamie played by Claire Nelson (‘20), and Elizabeth played by Jess Li (‘20).

Props were selected by the directors and pulled from the basement by Theater Tech {from left to right: Whitney Hejmanowski (‘21), Claire Nelson (‘20), and Jess Li (‘20) in “Liberal Arts College”}

Despite its challenges, all of the directors found it was a really fun experience. Elise said, “Shorts has been one of my favorite experiences at Bishop’s – I love working with students that aren’t typically involved in theater and seeing them grow as performers.” Elise directed a short about “bad actors putting on a play that goes terribly wrong.” Sydney said, “I’ve genuinely loved having ownership over my own creative work and engaging with my fellow actors in a unique way.”

Dra. Rose and Ms. Korneychuk found it really fun to work with students outside of the classroom. Ms. Korneychuk, who typically only works with middle school students, found the experience especially exciting.  “It’s one of my only opportunities at Bishop’s to work with high school students,” she said. “With even slightly more mature actors, I can take on more complicated material and do a deeper level of character work, in a shorter amount of time.” Dra. Rose, too, found the experience of directing to be a refreshing change from what she normally does on campus. “It’s a fun way to exercise my directing muscles,” she said. “I love theatre, and I love working with students to prepare a show. It is something I miss doing, and I am grateful that the Shorts Festival gives me the opportunity to work with students outside of class.”