Student Directors get to pitch own projects in new theatre and dance lab series

Starting in Fall 2021, René Copeland, an assistant professor and directing program coordinator at Baldwin Wallace University, created an opportunity to give acting and directing majors a chance to pitch their own project for the Lab Series, which is a series of student-directed plays that occurs each semester. Now, there is one slot each semester for a student director to pitch a show and be selected by a faculty selection committee.  

Ideally, Copeland said, students who are interested in this opportunity would have already taken a basic directing class, an advanced directing class, and been an assistant director before applying to pitch a show. Any student who is interested in directing for the Lab Series must include in their pitch why they chose the play, why the selected play would be the best choice, and what they hope to accomplish as a director.  

“Our first priority is to pick the directors, and then we look to see if their proposed show is a good fit to the season,” Copeland said.   

According to Copeland, the goal for this new opportunity is for the student directors to feel what it is like to be fully in charge of a production. If chosen, the students will be in charge of casting and communication, creating rehearsal schedules, marketing, and will potentially have access to props and costumes.  

Senior acting and directing major Reed Kruger was chosen by the selection committee to direct his play “Judge and Jury” this semester. 

“This opportunity allowed me to experiment with what does and does not work with a very limited set of tools,” Kruger said.  

 Kruger said “Judge and Jury” was a good fit for the Lab Series to put on because it relates to our current political climate.  

“It has a very topical story about having to choose whether or not someone is trustworthy,” Keuger said.  

Not every work produced as part of the Lab Series has to be student-written, however. Last fall, senior Bryce Kessler directed a radio play adaptaion of Tony Kushner’s seminal AIDS drama “Angels in America.”  

Copeland said in the future this program could expand by having performances in a larger space, such as the Black Box Theatre, but has smaller ambitions for now. 

“I just have dreams for it to feel like a star on your crown to get to be the director for a Lab Series,” she said. “It should feel like the culmination of all your directing study throughout your whole college career that you’ve been preparing for.”  

Copeland said she already has four to five applications on her desk for next semester’s Lab Series. For more information on applications, contact René Copeland at [email protected].