Senior Mady McColm is the definition of talented. She writes, acts, plays the ukulele and can now add one more thing to her resume: directing.
Below is a Q&A with Mady McColm, student director of one-act “Blue Highway.” The play, along with Keisha McMillen’s “Consolation” will be performed throughout the week at Wilhoit Theatre. The one-acts are a must-see so make sure to get your tickets before they are sold out.
What is “Blue Highway” about?
MM: So, “Blue Highway” is essentially a story about companionship. It’s about two men who meet each other under unlikely circumstances and forge a strong friendship. However, expect some zany disasters along the way.
Why did you decide to direct this play?
MM: The One Acts is something that we do on a biannual basis. The theatre faculty at Drury host a nationwide playwriting competition, and the winners of the competition are selected by a panel for directors to choose from. This year, the One Acts feature two student directors, Keisha McMillen and myself. This is one of the first times that I’m aware of that the One Acts have been totally student directed.
My play, “Blue Highway,” didn’t come from the playwriting competition, but was written by the chair of the theatre department, Dr. Mick Sokol. When I was reading the play selections, I thought that Blue Highway had a lot of potential for some creative directing choices. I chose a play that was both entertaining to me and gave me some artistic freedom.
Who will be starring in the production?
MM: The two leads are played by Beau Berry and Jacob Maher, and this will be their debut at Drury University. The rest of the cast includes Stephanie Schumacher, CJ Colbert and Matt Myers.
What days and times can students attend the production?
MM: The One Acts will run from Tuesday, Nov. 7 to Saturday, Nov. 11. Each night will begin at 7:30 p.m. and Saturday will also include a matinee performance at 2 p.m.
How much does it cost?
MM: Cost for students and faculty is ONLY $3, so go support us! You can buy tickets at the Drury Theatre box office between 1 and 5 p.m., buy tickets online or call (417) 873-7255 to reserve your seat.
If you aren’t student or faculty:
Adult – $14.00
Senior Citizen (55+) – $7.00
Non-Drury Student – $7.00
Child (12 and under) – $3.00
ALSO: Attend all four productions of the season at a savings of over 33% off individual ticket prices. Prices are below:
Adult – $35.00
Senior Citizen (55+) – $17.50
Non-Drury Student – $17.50
Child (12 and under) – $7.50
Drury Faculty/Staff/Student – $7.50
What are you most excited for?
MM: I’m super excited for people to see all the hard work that we’ve all done to make this show a success. I’ve got amazing, dedicated designers that have made the space stunning including the set, light and sound. I’ve gotten a chance to work with amazing stage managers who are far more organized than I will ever be – people who have truly made the show what it is. Plus, I’ve gotten to direct some incredibly talented actors with great instincts and amazing work ethic. I’m so excited to see all the working pieces come together in front of a live audience.
How do you think this play has helped develop your skills as a director?
MM: As a student director, it is all the pressure of being a director with very little experience to back it. I’ve directed some short plays in the past and taken our directing class with Dr. Schraft, but it’s still really new to me. That’s something really cool about Drury University and the theatre department: you have an opportunity to get hands on experience in your interests.
As I said before, apart from our technical director, the play is mostly student operated and designed. It is a lot of responsibility and many people have put long hours in to make this show a success. Every day I learn something new, and I hope that, if I continue to direct at any capacity, that I always prioritize learning from the talented people around me.
What makes your play stand out from the rest?
MM: I think one of the cool parts about my production is that I get to work with the playwright. Working with Dr. Sokol can be intimidating but also very refreshing, because he knows which bits in the script can be changed to fit better with our audience and stage orientation. Working with the playwright is not something a lot of directors get to do and I’m super proud that I get to learn from someone that I respect as both an incredible playwright, director and professor.
What difficulties have you had to overcome?
MM: My show is in alley, which means it will be performed with audience on both sides of the action, creating the look of an alleyway. That makes it pretty atypical.
Seats for the audience will be placed on Wilhoit stage, so many of the audience will be right up in the action. That has been a challenge for me because: 1- I’ve never directed in an alley; 2- I’ve never acted in an alley; and 3- I’ve only seen one other show (ever) set in an alley. It’s a unique set up but it is by necessity that we perform this way and, while it maybe is not the traditional way to block a show, it has made way for some cool and interesting new choices. Since working in the space, I’ve decided I wouldn’t want the show any other way.