William Warren brings ‘Seminar’ to the stage of the Black Box Theatre to shed light on conflicts that can arise when students have a bad teacher
William Warren, senior theatre major, will offer relevance and familiarity with his senior capstone by directing “Seminar,” a play by Theresa Rebeck. “Seminar,” shows four writers’ experiences while enrolled in a writing seminar led by somewhat of a “hardass.” Tensions flare as stories are torn apart and harshly critiqued by Leonard, the seminar’s professor, and rumors spread that he is sleeping with one of the students. However, eyes begin to open when the writers – Kate, Martin, Douglas and Izzy – realize what is holding them back from producing their best work.
Warren, while reading the play for class a year ago, could see the production being played out and wanted to challenge himself in directing the play.
“I want to be a director,” Warren said. “I remember thinking really, really specifically, ‘Wow, I can see this show in my head.’ I took that as a meaning, like if I can see it, then I should direct it. I should make that happen.”
In the process of reviewing audition monologues, Warren narrowed his decisions down to students who are compatible with each other while effectively bringing their characters to life.
“A lot of what I was looking for was stage chemistry between the actors and making sure that they were people who could work well together and were believable in the same space together,” he said.
The play originated on Broadway in 2011 with a stellar cast including Alan Rickman, Lily Rabe and Jerry O’Connell. Some of GC’s actors make use of their talents to portray the vulnerable and sometimes humorous characters of the play.
“I am really privileged to be a part of it,” said sophomore theatre major Codi Henson, “because it’s such a small cast.”
Henson is one of five students selected out of about 30 who auditioned for the play. She said the play is relatable in the sense of its setting and its insight into an intense writing course.
“It’s a writing seminar setting, so it’s similar to a classroom setting with a professor kind of reviewing papers and literature,” Henson said. “It’s actually really informative about styles of writing and certain aspects of literature that they can probably relate to.”
Will Morris, sophomore rhetoric major and active Improv veteran, plays the character of Leonard. This character epitomizes every teacher who lives to tear his or her students down.
“He’s a 58-year-old writer, and he’s very bitter about the world,” Morris said. “But here he is, giving a private writing seminar to these four amateur writers who hired him.”
Morris is eager to perform in the maturely comedic play for an audience.
“It’s extremely vulgar, and I’ve never gotten the opportunity to be a part of something very adult in front of lots of people,” he said. “It’s comedy, and that’s my strong suit. ‘Seminar’ is about power and sex along the way. It’s about writing and finding what you’re good at.”
“Seminar” will resonate with any student who has ever applied their blood, sweat and tears to the completion of a project only to have it struck down by his or her instructor. The actors’ depictions of raw emotions will strike close to home even to students who may not have experienced such jarring circumstances. Relating to the characters is inevitable.
Be sure to catch “Seminar”, directed by William Warren, at the Black Box Theatre. It runs Nov. 19 through Nov. 23 at 8 p.m.