Emma Benardete ’21, the dramaturg for both shows in Concord Academy’s advanced elective Directors’ Workshop, is here to discuss the course and introduce The Mad Ones and Proof. Let’s look forward to these two amazing productions that will be performed in early May!
Lisa: Hi Emma, to start us off, could you give an introduction to what Directors’ Workshop is?
Emma: Directors’ Workshop is an upper-level theater course. It is an opportunity for students to direct their own one-act plays. I am the dramaturg for both shows, which means that I conduct research for them.
Lisa: Could you give an overview of the two productions we have this year?
Emma: Hayden Jennings ’21 is directing a musical called The Mad Ones, which centers on a young woman. As she comes of age, [she deals] with the loss of her best friend and her mother putting a lot of pressure on her to go to a good college.
Our other director, Maisie Brigham ’21, is directing a play called Proof, which centers around a young woman whose father has just passed away, who was a math professor. She is coping with that loss, and she is afraid that, like him, she is starting to become mentally unstable. The play centers on her journey [with] her sister and one of her father’s former students who shows up to talk about this proof that he wants to publish which her father supposedly wrote.
Lisa: As the dramaturg for both shows, what is your role in the production?
Emma: I am just doing research and also helping the directors to give notes to the actors when they need feedback. At this point, given how late [of a] start we’ve had, I’ve been doing a little bit of stage managing. I will be moving away from that as we get our actual, lovely stage managers: Liam Young ’22 and Anika Donohue ’22. But for now, if someone’s out for rehearsal, I’ll read their lines for them.
Lisa: How has working with the two directors been?
Emma: It has been really great. They have been super helpful. They both have clear ideas about what kind of research they want me to do, which is helpful for me to know what they are looking for. They have also been super receptive to everything I’ve had to say, being super willing to let me give notes to the actors directly, and we just get along really well. We have a lot of fun when we’re doing it so it doesn’t always feel like work.
Lisa: What has been challenging in this process?
Emma: I think the biggest challenge is that this is a first for all of us. I’ve never been a dramaturg before; none of us have ever directed before, and so [we are] just navigating that. We are also learning how to balance with our peers having a leadership role because we are directing seniors. It’s hard to tell the line between just having fun versus being able to put our feet down and say, at the end of the day, “We are directing so we need you to listen to us.”
Lisa: Finally, how would you advertise The Mad Ones and Proof to the CA community?
Emma: The Mad Ones is about coming of age, which is super relatable for our demographic here at CA. It explores a lot of the things we as high schoolers deal with. It’s also really great music!
For Proof, I would say, even though the main character is an older person, probably in the 30s, a lot of the things that she is dealing with are things that we deal with as high school students, like dating, academics, and just high stress. It discusses mental health, which I think is really important. It’s a good opportunity for students to see those kinds of things represented in a play, especially when mental health is not always represented in our productions.
Directors’ Workshop will be showcased in the upcoming weeks, and Emma, along with everyone else involved, looks forward to (hopefully) seeing you all there!