By Nick Robertson
When Joe Salvatore posted the Student Directing notice for In Real Time, I jumped at the opportunity. I’d taken three directing classes in the department (with Nan Smithner and Amy Cordileone, all of which I highly recommend) and was eager to put the concrete skills I’d learned into real-world practice. I applied to direct M Squared, a mysterious little play about a semi-schlub of a guy, Chad, whose sedate life is totally disrupted when Marilyn Monroe crashes into his kitchen one night. As I began my application, I realized skills alone were not going to be enough to successfully direct this show. The play spoke to me in a very personal way and I would need to acknowledge that, lean into it, and be able to share it with other people in order to do the story justice. Deep down, what I connected to was this person who’d built a safe and static life, denying himself of some very deep-seated desires (passion! excitement! beauty! glamor!) until his subconscious literally had to wake him up to the possibility of a more integrated and joyous existence. Talk about a classic equation for comedy! What followed were three and a half months of continually jumping into the void of vulnerability, sharing a private part of myself through this play, first with Joe, then my cast, then the designers, then finally with the audience. I found that at each step of the journey, people not only accepted what I shared with them, but supported and appropriated it so that by opening night, all of us were telling the same story from our own very personal points of view. It was a really magical collaborative experience throughout, and one I hope to replicate in all my other theatrical work.