The Directors’ Cut

A tradition started seven years ago by theater teacher Janet Rust provides senior high school students in theater class an opportunity to step in and direct a play of their own.

This year saw the return of that tradition COVID-19 restrictions changed how plays could be conducted. The honor this time was given to students John Swanson and Matty Banks. 

The tandem will lead the production of ‘The Death of Zukasky’ by Richard Strand with opening night being Friday Jan. 28 at the Cottage Grove high school cafeteria at 7 p.m. 

Banks and Swanson have both been a part of theater since their freshman years and have been in many plays together as actors. With performances In The review, MacBeth, The Scottish Way just to name a few. 

“I was kind of just put into theater in freshman year and I’m very thankful for it,” said Swanson. “Freshman year, we (Matty and I) were both in another student directed a play, and ever since that we both have kind of wanted to direct our own play. And so, we finally got the opportunity to do so.” 

Now the duo is excited to experience a different side of what goes into putting a play together and the responsibilities that come with it. 

“Basically, we have to both be able to visualize our idea that we want from the play and what we want to get out of it,” said Swanson. “And then we also have to design sets, pick out outfits and make sure that the actors will have their lines down and are understanding their lines. Then obviously the main directing staff tell our actors what to do and give them guidance.”

Banks added, “There’s a lot of things that we do that, in professional theaters, we wouldn’t be doing. We wouldn’t be designing the costumes or the set or anything like that. But we are a duo, so we do all that stuff together.” 

With COVID throwing everyone for a loop the past two years, the theater class has had to pivot and go virtual with some of their performances. 

This year has been more of a return to normal after seeing kids return to the stage in the fall of 2021 even in a small capacity.

Swanson and Banks were two of the four students that were a part of the return normal production in the fall and are ready to keep the positive momentum going into 2022. 

“I think that this is such a great opportunity for students to be able to direct and so I hope that people would come out and support them,” said Rust. 

The show will open on Jan. 28, Jan. 29, Feb. 4 and Feb. 5 all at 7 p.m. Tickets will be available at the door for five dollars for students and seniors and 10 dollars for adults.

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