The Making of "The Dream of the Burning Boy"

Noa Rosenberg Screen Shot 2014-12-01 at 7.49.11 PM Each year, the theater department hands the reins over to students to produce a show that they are entirely in charge of, directed by a few select seniors. This year, the show was The Dream of the Burning Boy by David West Read, directed by Caroline Chu ‘15 and Chris Quazzo ‘15. This moving play details life in a school after a student’s passing. The process of choosing the play was easy. Caroline said, “We spent a lot of time looking for plays to direct, and we did have a backup option, but we weren’t sold on it. One of our friends is basically a walking play database, so we asked him for suggestions, and he gave us about ten. This one caught Chris’s eye first, so we both read it and pretty much knew right away that it was what we wanted.” After the show was decided on, they began the long process of taking it to the stage. It all started with pre-planning; they discussed the set, the schedule for rehearsals, what they were looking for in auditions, and much more. They also chose the play’s two stage managers: Sasha Belcher and Hunter Dunn. Following this, auditions were held and cast lists were released. Then came the long process of rehearsing and doing everything necessary to bring the show to life. As for any problems that occurred, Caroline said, “Obviously no show goes off without a few difficulties, but I think, overall, we didn’t have too many. There was one day during tech week when our set was taken down without our knowledge, so that was a little stressful. Everything was resolved by the end of the day, though. We also had to move our show a day earlier because of a conflict, but that didn’t create too big of an issue.” To anyone looking to direct the Student-Run in the future, Caroline and Chris offer plenty of advice. Caroline pointed out that you should “choose your co-workers carefully—Chris and I really lucked out with each other since we tend to agree on everything, and we’d also worked together in the past so we had some idea of how it would go. Arguing with anyone on your team would make the whole process more difficult than it already is. Try not to pick people you’d get sick of spending hours every day with. Also, be understanding; it’s very hard to direct your friends in a show, because sometimes it can put you in an awkward position if you have to tell them ‘no’ for any reason. You have to strike a difficult balance between friendly and strict.” What does she say may be most important, however? To make sure that you have the time to take on such a large project. Chris added that “beyond casting, it’s crucial to surround yourself with a crew of people that are trustworthy, easy to work with, flexible, and diligent. There are so many parts to a show, both in preparation for and during it, and you can’t always be supervising every aspect, particularly those related to tech, so it’s incredibly important to organize the best possible group—stage managers, costume designer, run crew, and build crew—because they are an integral part of the process.” Caroline and Chris will also be compiling a guide-of-sorts as a resource for future directors, which will feature tips from both them as well as from past directors. When I saw the Student-Run, I was taken aback by how professional and beautiful the show was. The story was portrayed poignantly, and it was apparent just how much work and care was dedicated to the production. I’d be surprised if I wasn’t the only audience member in tears by the final scene. Caroline said it best: “I am so, so proud of the show and of our actors. I can’t say it enough. We both cried on closing night. It’s really amazing to be able to see months and months of work all come together onstage, and those of us who are actors know that feeling, but it’s very different to experience that from a director’s point of view. I’m thrilled with how the show turned out.”  ]]>