A winning performance

Wake Forest’s directing program was one of only four in the country to be featured in the December issue of Stage Directions magazine, a national publication for professional theater producers, designers and managers.

Student-directed plays are a long-standing tradition in Wake Forest’s theatre department. Each senior theater major directs a one-act play.

“We strongly believe that directing is a particularly good way of drawing together skills and knowledge from every other part of their experience in the department,” says Associate Professor of Theatre Cindy Gendrich.

The article in Stage Directions highlights the emphasis Wake Forest places on research for students directing plays. “Student directors produce a prompt book that contains extensive narrative and annotative analysis, rehearsal and technical forms, narrative as well as visual design descriptions, and post-critical evaluation of their process,” explains Professor of Theatre Sharon Andrews in the story.

Andrews and Cindy Gendrich teach a directing workshop and a directing seminar, which students majoring in theatre are required to take. The workshop is a laboratory for working with scenes and plays. Students learn how to deal with space, time, character relationships, storytelling, and all the formal and content-related elements of directing.

The seminar is a traditional classroom experience that guides students through a study of methods, asks them to review and understand the contributions of important world theatre directors, and introduces them to major concepts. Students are also required to take a studio production class that builds directing skills.

“Directing requires students to analyze plays quite intensely, both as literary works — looking at language, structure, and philosophical and thematic elements — and as documents of a given time and place,” Gendrich says. “History, economics, psychology, sociology, religion, and more are examined, along with the author’s body of work, to understand the complex ways that the chosen play reflects and acts in dialogue with a larger world.”

Many graduates of the theatre program go on to directing and theatre management careers, as well as careers in performance, playwriting and design.

Categories: Arts & Culture