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UI Directing Students Don’t Shy Away From Challenges
Interpreting the plays of Samuel Beckett can be an intense experience for any director. An Irish avant-garde playwright, theatre director, novelist and poet, Beckett is known for infusing tragicomic, minimalistic, absurdism into his work.
This hasn’t stopped Nathaniel Quinn and Travis Gray from approaching his work as part of their Directing Seminar class. Both are grad students in the University of Idaho Theatre Arts MFA in Directing program and are producing a one-night-only event of two Beckett plays on April 29, at 7:30 p.m. at The Silo, 625 South Jackson Street, in Moscow. The event is free for UI students and $5 for the general public.
The class doesn’t shy away from challenges, in both the practical and artistic sense. Besides directing Beckett, the students also had to find off-campus performance space and support.
“As director's we won't have the luxury of campus space and support for long,” Quinn says.
“So how do we convince the communities and artistic directors we will be trying to work with to help us do a show? It's a project that challenged us through the art, as well as the reality of producing the art,” he says.
“Ambiguity permeates the majority of Beckett’s plays,” says Gray, who directs Krapp’s Last Tape. “The ambiguity can be intimidating and leads to many questions.”
“Once you get started asking questions about the script, it seems as though no good answer is in sight,” Gray says. But with a dedicated and ambitious cast and crew, Gray says the ambiguity became liberating. “I feel the result is an unexpected, but beautiful story that unfolds.”
Quinn had a similar experience in directing Act Without Words II. “Once I finally stepped back and let the simplicity of the piece wash over me I realized the beauty of Beckett,” he says.
“Act Without Words II became instantly hilarious and sad when I stopped trying so hard. Just like real life. What does the piece mean? Don't look for it, then you'll see it.”