Do a Little Interview With Me
With the Musical Theatre Society’s autumn showcase Do a Little Duet With Me quickly approaching, Cal Crozier spoke to the director, second-year Eren Arken, to get an insight into his experience with constructing a showcase.
So first of all, why did you choose to direct the showcase?
That’s a good question. I wanted to direct because, first of all I’m a drama student, and as a performer I think it’s very important to explore all sides of the industry. Obviously I’m here to do a degree and I felt like this society provided me with the opportunity to explore directing. And since musical theatre is so close to my heart, I decided that I didn’t want to miss this opportunity. As I’ve been in previous showcases, I wanted to see what it would be like on the other side of things – I’ve found it to be very different and you learn so much from both aspects.
That perfectly leads into my next question: how do you feel about directing versus performing?
It’s been an eye-opener, and very, very different. I have enjoyed directing a lot, but obviously it has a different kind of stress to it. But performing is so close to my heart, and it’s really made me realise how much I enjoy doing that. I think I’ve discovered that it’s more my forte.
Why did you choose to showcase duets? Where did the concept come from?
Well, firstly there are so many great duets out there and it’s a great way to link musicals together. Secondly the autumn showcase is primarily for freshers, and I felt that duets provide the opportunity to solo while relying on someone else, not just being scared on your own. So especially for young freshers who may be very nervous about performing for the first time, I felt it would be a great opportunity and also a good way to make friends. We’ve had socials where you had to go out with your duet partner which has been great.
What have you found challenging about directing thus far?
There is a lot to do, and it’s more complicated than people think. It’s definitely a thankless job, because people don’t realize how much you actually do. I do so much it’s ridiculous. I find it most challenging because I’m not allowed to directly demonstrate to the performers.
Why are you not allowed to demonstrate?
If I do something that’s kind of my thing, it may make them feel insecure. I can’t tell them to repeat something because it’s not supposed to be like that, it’s about bringing your own interpretation to the table. So it becomes challenging as I personally find it difficult to express my thoughts without demonstrating.
I do. I don’t feel like explaining in words is my strongest suit. It’s challenging also because they’re my friends, and I have to be that authoritative figure. So it is difficult sometimes to get them to shut up and listen to me. But when you’ve got to do it, you’ve got to do it.
Is there anything about directing that you didn’t expect it to involve?
That’s a good question. Well, I’m usually very well prepared, and I spoke to the other directors a lot and asked them about what might hit me by surprise. So currently, I can’t think of anything.
So you were prepared for everything?
[Laughing] Um, not true. It’s been the simplest things, like the sudden decisions I’ve had to make in terms of people dropping out. I feel that I wasn’t prepared with a plan B for every possible contingency, and usually I’m very ready with that. So one of my biggest regrets has been not really putting enough thought into where every member of the cast would be best suited. Although I’m currently so pleased with the show.
Do you have a favourite number in the show?
Oh that’s a hard one, because I chose all the songs so I love them all. I am a bit biased towards The Movie In My Mind, as it’s my favourite musical theatre song ever. Other than that, I really enjoy the finale song (We Built This City/We’re Not Gonna Take It from Rock of Ages) because it is such a spectacle.
Is there anything else you’d like to say?
Come see the show! It’s on this weekend [5 and 6 December], and I’m not just saying that to try and sell it because I’m the director. It’s definitely worth watching because so much effort has gone into it, more than anyone thinks, and it’s so much more than just training people how to sing and dance. It’s fun, and we’re doing something we love.
Well thank you so much for taking the time to talk with me.
Come down to the Coyler Ferguson building on 5 and 6 December at 7.30pm to enjoy the fruits of Mr. Arken’s labour. It’s going to be an amazing show!