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Student directors debut

When he presents his one-act play this coming weekend, graduate student Jaehoon Kim will be presenting his work to an American audience for the first time.

“I was a director in (South) Korea, but it’s my first time directing in the United States,” Kim said.

Kim said he may have a different cultural background from Americans, but it doesn’t matter.

“We are the same because we are human beings and we experience everything the same,” he said. “It’s not a big problem.”

Kim, fellow grad students Fred Liebfried and Callie Hisek and senior Allen Jones will present one-act plays they have directed from Nov. 11-13.  The show starts at 7:30 p.m. in the Arena Theatre in the Warren M. Lee Center for the Fine Arts.

Kim will present “The Proposal” by Anton Chekhov, Liebfried will present “The Mystery at Twicknam Vicarage” by David Ives, Hisek will present “The Problem” by A.R. Gurney and Jones will present “The Return of Buck Gavin” by Thomas Clayton Wolfe.

The four student directors are presenting their one-acts as part of their Advanced Directing class. Theater department chair Eric Hagen teaches the class and said the one-act is the biggest assignment.

“The main purpose of the class is to build confidence and experience in working with actors, working with a technical team as part of the process and to begin the process of developing a personal aesthetic as a director,” Hagen said. “Directing the one-act is a culminating experience for the class.”

Kim said he was a director in Korea for a while but hadn’t actually studied theater. He started as an actor but then drifted into directing.

Kim’s one-act is “The Proposal” and he said he chose it for its realism.

“When I read [Chekhov’s] play, his character was very realistic, like me and my friends,” Kim said. “The situation isn’t natural, it’s very extreme but they are us; the characters are us.”

Liebfried described “The Mystery at Twicknam Vicarage” as a “short, raucous little piece.”

“The audience will connect to the silliness,” he said. “It’s a little bit naughty and I think they’ll like that.  It’s a spoof of a murder mystery, sort of like Agatha Christie meets Monty Python with a little bit of British sex farce thrown in there as well.”

Hisek said she chose “The Problem” for her one-act because she found it challenging in the lack of communication between the characters.

“Most of the time when I look at plays, I look for emotional value and the emotion behind characters and that’s what really drives and intrigues me with these plays,” she said. “It has been kind  of difficult to direct because there’s so many levels to it. There’s a lot of subtext.”

Hisek said she is looking forward to getting back into directing because she’s been away from it for two or three years.

Jones said this will be his first time directing an actual show.

“I directed a 10-minute show last year, but this is my first time doing an actual play even though it is only 10 to 15 minutes long,” he said. “It’s my first show to the public.”

Jones said “The Return of Buck Gavin” is a “simple tale.” It takes place in 1918 in the backwoods of North Carolina when Buck Gavin returns home to see his sister after being on the run for six weeks.

Jones said one of the more challenging features of the one-act is the deep, Southern dialect the actors have to master.

“We took a lot of time to work on the dialect. We made sure they were comfortable with it before we started anything else, and the actors have been doing just great with it,” he said.

Hagen said the actors who will be performing likely haven’t acted on the main stage before.

“I enjoy the one-acts because we often get fresh talent on stage with these projects,” Hagen said. “It’s really a great opportunity to provide the younger actors with opportunities to develop skills.”

Freshman Nick McCleery is one of those first-time actors and said he felt he was becoming a better actor from the experience.

“There’s a fine line between playing the funniness and working toward your objectives in a play,” he said.

McCleery is part of the cast of “The Mystery at Twicknam Vicarage,” along with fifth-year senior Iah Kinley, who said one of the more challenging aspects of the show was the use of British


“Enunciating, specifically with a Cockney dialect, is really dirty and kind of in the essence of not pronouncing words,” Kinley said. “There’s a constant battle of finding of median of being


“Mystery at Twicknam Vicarage” actor and fifth-year senior Marcus Langseth said the one-acts help them become better actors.

“It allows us to work with someone that’s not in the professor chair, who we work with on a daily basis, but one of our peers who knows us and has a different vision of what they’d like to see us do,” Langseth said.

Senior Tarryn Rouse, also of the cast of “The Mystery at Twicknam Vicarage,” said one of the more difficult aspects for her was putting herself in the world of the characters.

“It’s a completely different world than what we’re used to,” she said. “They’re very wealthy and have a lot of class.  We’re a lot more of a casual culture and it has been a challenge to get inside that culture and think like those characters.”

Reach reporter Jordan Foye at [email protected].