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So You Want to be a Director: My Personal Experience

I had an opportunity to direct a show this year for Loyola’s Spotlight players titled Last Summer at Bluefish Cove by Jane Chambers, which ran at the end of January.

Last Summer At Bluefish Cove is a landmark play in Queer literature. It chronicles eight women over their summer in Long Island. It is the first mainstream play to focus on the Lesbian experience.

This experience for me started further back, in May. Choosing the play that you are going to direct is one of the hardest parts of being a director, in my personal opinion. I had read countless plays and had a running list of what I liked and what I did not like. I was stressed and discouraged because nothing was standing out, I was not having the
“aha moment” that I had read about until I read Bluefish. The more that I started reading I found myself immersed in the characters and the storyline. When I finished the read-through I knew that this was the show that I had to do.

Since my auditions were not until November, I found myself doing a lot of the pre-production work over the summer. Researching different references and words I did not recognize as well as generally the time that this play was taking place, which is the 1980s. The more that I researched, the more that I found this world and learned to understand why these characters were the way that they were.

During this time, being queer was not illegal but it was frowned upon, they could not live their lives without the fear of being discriminated against or experiencing hate crimes. This cove was their safe space where they could dress how they wanted and be with whoever they wanted. This clarity was one of the things that I knew I wanted to create at Loyola through this show, a safe space for people to see queer roles, where being queer was not the only notable thing about them.  

Over the summer I booked time in my week to sit and read the show. I would bring it to the beach, to the library, to coffee shops, basically anywhere I could sit and read this play that was not my house.  Ironically the more that I read the show the more I became invested, each time the show presented something that I had not recognized before in previous reads. One day I was reading this play when I realized something special, which shaped the way I worked with actors on character development. These people are so human, so real. There was no real antagonist, they all had flaws but in the end, they all deserved better. They made mistakes and they lived their lives, everyone in the audience would be able to find someone they could relate to. This show captured real life and real emotions, which is rare in my opinion. Since this idea was something that I wanted to highlight, I worked with my wonderful team to try and make this a reality. This was done with the sound, lights, set, costumes, actors. Our world was real and messy and full of emotions and it was imperfect, which was what I loved most about it.  

My directing experience seems to be nothing but perfect, but I can say that it was not perfect or anywhere close. I personally struggled with imposter syndrome especially in the beginning parts of the process of working with actors. I had never directed a show like this before and to be completely honest I was still finding my footing. I found myself trying to overcompensate in other areas, trying to push down the idea that my actors and crew hated me. There were rehearsals where I would stay back and just cry because I felt that I was doing the show a disservice, that this show deserved the best and what if I was not able to bring that.

Despite this feeling, there was always an excitement to work on this show. Even though I was feeling insecure it was my actors that kept me coming back to rehearsals, they put more faith in me than I had in myself. It was tough in the beginning but I knew they could handle anything that I threw at them, no matter how weird or crazy it sounded. Once the original blocking was finished and we began running the show in full was it that I felt that this was something that I could do and was doing. The specific date of this still is crystal clear in my mind. It was our second run of the show and we had some designers watching the show for the first time. I remember being so scared since no one really had seen it before. When the run was over and everyone was going home, a crew member pulled me into a hug and gave me the reassurance that I needed. There was a moment after the rehearsal where I sat on the set and just was dumbfounded that this was happening and it was going well. I had never really felt this feeling before but I was so warm.  

I think every director will say that they are blessed with the best cast possible, but I really think that the cast of Bluefish was perfect in every possible way. All of the actors worked so hard and made these characters come to life on stage. The further we got into the rehearsal process, I found myself falling in love with these characters over and over again. This show was not easy, especially in the two weeks before the show. We had to move theatres and adjust all the blocking due to COVID restrictions. This may have thrown us off a little. The actors were able to pivot and I believe that the show was even better after the change in location. When we ran for the first time in our new location I was impressed with the actors, they never let these setbacks break them down. Even after this show closed I still find myself gushing over this cast, truly they are some of the best people that I have ever met and I am proud to call them my friends.  

To say that Bluefish Cove changed my life is not exactly true, rather it showed me what I truly wanted. Before college, I knew that theatre meant a lot to me but in terms of a hobby. Now that I am in college I was looking at the whole idea wrong. I loved acting and being a part of the cast but my heart longed to be a part of the magic of theatre, creating the impossible and crafting a world for an audience to fall in love with. Bluefish was that for me, this magic and world that we all created were more than I could have ever imagined and every day I wish I could go back and relish in that cove we built as a team. There are so many things about this show that people never noticed, these small details, but I knew they were there. The more that I thought about it, the more that I never wanted experiences like this to end, there was more that I could do and more shows that could happen.

This show and these people are one of the main reasons that I want to be a director on a professional level, and I cannot thank them enough for it.   

Nez is a sophomore from Weymouth, Ma. They are a Theatre major, and a Gender and Sexuality studies minor. In their free time you will most likely find them in the theatre since they are this years spotlight player's director. outside of Loyola, Nez is passionate about music, reading and photography.
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