Student Director Josi Baker Takes The Lead In Rehearsals For Highland’s Spring Play

Lucas Bartel, Staff Writer

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Into the Woods is a musical being put on from the third of May to the eighth. It is similar to most other plays put on by Highland with one crucial difference: it is done completely by students. The students are in charge of props, costumes, music and, most importantly, directing. The directing, usually done by the theatre teacher Alexi Baugh, is being done by the main director Josi Baker and assistant director Hanna Richards.
Both Baker and Richards chose to direct rather than audition, both specifically because it is a musical.
“I am very much a straight actor, which means I’m a lot better as an actor just saying lines in a play than I am in a musical. I can’t read music. I look at it and I’m like ‘oh that’s pretty’. So instead it’s been really fun looking at and discovering these characters.” said Baker. “Being able to think of a vision in my head and producing it in real life and then watch it happen is unexplainable. It is so cool.”
Baker had directed a few scenes before this production but never something of this scale. It is both a challenge and an opportunity.
“It’s really interesting because I’ve seen Josi go through the years and so her acting has progressed and now she’s like ‘I want to direct’ and she’s doing phenomenally with it.” said Brenna Western, an actress in the play.
Richards had a slightly different reason although ended at the same destination. Richards has vocal nodules which prevent her from singing and thus acting in the musical. Despite this she still wanted to be part of the play and put her hat into the ring for director, not thinking she would get it because so many seniors were in the running and she is only a sophomore. However they all chose to audition instead and she ended up as assistant director.
“It’s just been a totally different experience. I’ve never been on the directing side of anything, so for instance casting was really interesting because I was like ‘oh, this is how casting actually goes’. And then we had to make a calendar which took forever and we messed it up and had to keep improvising it and we were like ‘I’m sorry we’ve never done this before’.” said Richards. “I have a whole new appreciation for directors and how hard their jobs are. I hope that’ll make me a better actor.”
Together the duo have to deal with many problems whether it’s timing or music or, especially, the oddness of directing friends.
“One of the biggest challenges is the peer on peer aspect because it’s a different feeling. It’s more like oh this is my buddy I can just be friendly with them rather than this is my teacher and I need to listen cause this is my grade.” Baker
This completely student aspect of the play is something none of the cast member have ever experienced before. It’s something that doesn’t really happen in any other class.
“It’s so funny because we’ll be like ‘hey you want to go get coffee’ and then as soon as we enter the theatre they’re the director; they’re the boss; their wish is our command.” said Western.
Baker and Richards have to make sure the play is as good as possible and can’t pull any punches when giving the actors notes. Getting notes on your performance from a friend is a lot different than getting them from a teacher.
“We have to trust our friends. If it’s a teacher we know that they have executive decision so it’s hard to give that power to a friend.” said AngelSerena Oluwalana, an actress in the play.
Despite this dynamic the entire cast and crew are putting together a professional performance, and the directors’ ideas are becoming apparent.
“When you see it in pieces it’s scary, but seeing it all together it’s reassuring because you can see the big vision.” said Maggie Goble.
This performance will hopefully go on to show the true talent in the department and in Highland.

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Student Director Josi Baker Takes The Lead In Rehearsals For Highland’s Spring Play