Student Features

Student Directs Fall Play

Above, Ella Lafontant ’18 and Alex Sasso ’18 in a scene from The Best of Everything. (Photo: Jeremy Winchester)

It was a first for both MCLA and Brianna McDermott ’17 of Haverhill, Mass., when she directed this fall’s production of The Best of Everything on the Venable Theater’s main stage.

Before this experience, McDermott (right) – a double major in arts management and fine and performing arts with a concentration in theatre – never pictured herself as a director.

McDermott was part of the Season Selection Committee, which met last spring to determine which productions to stage during the 2016-17 season. As a result, Laura Standley, associate professor of theatre at MCLA, reached out to her over the summer, to see if she might be interested in directing.

“I was absolutely thrilled,” McDermott said. “Academically, I had been splitting my focus between performance, management and education; and directing seemed like the perfect way to intersect all three of those interests.”

Theatre has been a passion of McDermott’s from the time she was young.

“When looking for colleges and programs during my senior year in high school, I took a step back and realized that I truly could not imagine myself doing anything else. I spent most of my high school career performing, but academically, I had a knack for organization and management.”

She ended up finding “a very happy medium” with our arts management program, which is what led her to select MCLA. However, toward the end of her freshman year, she realized something was missing: her passion for theatrical performance and production.

“I ended up tacking on the double major, and have discovered that the two programs mesh so effortlessly together. I have found myself, throughout my four years, becoming interested in literally everything that theatre has to offer – performance, production, management and education,” McDermott explained.

The play featured a cast of nine women and two men. “It is an exploration of the lives of 1950s secretaries, and the pressures and expectations that society places upon them,” McDermott said.

“As a student, I wanted other students to know that I appreciated and encouraged their input. Two heads are better than one – another individual might be able to see something that I can’t. At the end of the day, I made the big decisions, but the process of getting there was very much collaborative.”

McDermott has yet to determine a definitive career path. However, she said that a focus on artistic direction might be a great way to combine her passion for management with her love of performance and productions.

“Now that I have directed a production, I can definitely see myself committing to a profession like that in the future. This experience has been eye-opening to the potential I have in this field; it has definitely been a confidence boost.”

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