By: Alex Spindler ~Staff Writer~
The Xavier University Department of Music and Theatre strives to feature new classes that fully integrate the academic setting with profes¬sional experience.
New to students this spring semester is a theatrical directing class taught by Cincinnati theater professionals Michael Evan Haney and D. Lynn Meyers. Both have worked extensively directing and directing numerous productions in the Cincinnati area and across the county.
As part of the new theatre major offered to students, this directing class will allow students to work with experts in the field on the many facets of direction in theater.
The Xavier Newswire spoke with Haney and Meyers to get a better glimpse at what makes classes such as these so beneficial to fine arts students.
Xavier Neswire (XN): What experience do you have working as both professional directors and instructors in theater in Cincinnati?
Michael Evan Haney (MEH): I am currently getting ready to open “A Delicate Ship” by Anna Ziegler at the (Cincinnati) Playhouse (in the Park). It is a world premiere.
D. Lynn Meyers (DLM): Briefly, I began my career at the Cincinnati Playhouse and have directed extensively throughout the U.S. and Canada with a concentration on new plays.
XN: When did you both first get involved with teaching at Xavier? What drew you to this theater program?
MEH: This spring, Stephen Skiles (Xavier University Director of Theatre) is a colleague that I’ve known since he was an acting in¬tern at Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park many years ago.
He has been in my production of “A Christmas Carol” at the Playhouse for several years and when he started the theatre major at Xavier, he asked me if I would teach directing.
I love Stephen’s commitment to bring in professionals in the theater to teach and work with his students.
DLM: This is the first time I have worked with Xavier as a teacher and I love the school and think Steve Skiles is developing a terrific theater program. I am working at X because of him.
XN: Tell me a bit about the class that you are teaching. What do you hope to achieve? What are your objectives in teaching a class on theatrical direction?
MEH: We are teaching an in¬troduction to directing. We want our students to have the hands-on experience of directing (scenes and finally a 10-minute play). We hope they come away from the class with a clearer understanding of what a director does and how they do it.
DLM: I am hoping that Michael and I together can show the different aspects of directing and help incorporate the skills of a director into other areas of the students’ work. We are working on 10-minute plays so that they can actually direct a project from beginning to end.
XN: As consummate professionals, what advice would you give to students potentially interested in theater but nervous about making that commitment?
MEH: Follow your bliss, but have a plan and a back-up plan.
DLM: Don’t be nervous. Just do it and then be nervous about making sure you continue to get better and better at your craft, that you continue to push yourself to do great work. But if you are nervous about succeeding, you won’t.
XN: How different is it to direct and work in an actual theater as opposed to teaching it in the academic setting?
MEH: Very different and yet the same (because of time and experience). In either case, the director is there to tell the story of the play in the clearest and most exciting way possible.
DLM: Teaching is about helpng others learn the craft and learn to appreciate it as audience members; directing for a professional theater demands work which serves the playwright and the audience.
Any student interested in theater classes should contact the Director for Theatre, Stephen Skiles, for more information.