by Leah Budson
Many actors dream of directing a show.
By the end of this year, sophomore Kelsey Fox will have already directed two ten-minute plays for Playwrights’ Festival and co-directed two Theatre Ink productions, in addition to acting in seven shows.
At the start of this school year, Fox was the acting director of “Freshman Cabaret,” along with co-directors sophomores Juliet Roll, Alex Shames and Alyssa Steffen.
Currently, she is co-directing Playwrights’ Festival, in addition to being a member Spontaneous Generation and Nitrous Oxide. She also acted in “Spontaneous Generation” and “Nitrous Oxide,” as a freshman.
Fox performed with Spontaneous Generation, this school’s improvisational troupe, Saturday at the First Unitarian Society in Newton’s Youth Coffeehouse.
According to Fox the night went well. “We had a lot of fun and there was a great audience,” she said.
Spontaneous Generation will also perform Wednesday, March 28 through Saturday, March 31 at 7:30 p.m. in the little theatre.
In addition to improvisational acting, Fox also acts in scripted roles.
“Scripted acting offers more of a challenge as to developing a character and getting to the more real side of something,” Fox said. “With improvisation the challenge is creating or discovering something in the moment, and working as a team.”
Theatre director Adam Brown said that Fox excels at working as a part of a team because “she is able to listen to others and make compromises. She really understands the give and the take of being a collaborative artist.”
Playwrights’, like Spontaneous Generation, is a joint effort, according to Fox.
“Even though everyone writes his own play, each playwright gets so much input from others that it really is a collaboration,” she said.
In order to edit plays and figure out what lines work, she said that “the cast reads each other’s plays out loud, picking people to act out the roles.”
Playwrights’ Festival is a collection of ten-minute plays, written and directed by students at this school. The festival goes up Wednesday, June 6 through Saturday, June 9 at 7:30 p.m. in the little theatre.
Fox co-directs Playwrights’ with seniors Abby Holtzman and Emma Weisberg. The directors organize events for Playwrights’, such as rehearsals and workshops. In addition, each director wrote and directs one of the ten plays in the festival.
The directors selected the ten plays for Playwrights’ after a teachers’ panel rated all submitted work.
Holtzman, Weisberg and Fox lead the editing process for the plays by helping the playwrights understand what elements they need to work on. When it’s time to direct the plays, each playwright is the main director for his show, though Holtzman, Weisberg and Fox help the playwrights throughout the process and offer them advice.
“The directors are the link between the plays and the different aspects of the theatre, like the actors and designers, to making a cohesive festival,” explained Fox.
During her freshman year, Fox wrote and directed one of ten plays that makes up Playwrights’. Soon afterward, Fox decided to apply to direct this year’s entire festival.
“I was enthused by the idea of being able to step up to having a bigger role in the festival and to get the opportunity to pull together such an awesome collaborative experience,” said Fox.
According to Brown, as Fox’s roles in Theatre Ink have expanded “she has also grown tremendously as an artist. More importantly she truly cares about the craft and is always trying to improve by seeking feedback.”
Holtzman said that “working with Kelsey and our co-director Emma Weisberg is really fantastic–we each bring different things to the process, and we’ve learned to listen to each other and work in this wonderfully collaborative trio.”
“Kelsey is a ball of wonderful creative energy, but she also manages to be incredibly professional and dedicated,” said Holtzman.
For Playwrights’ Fox wrote and will direct “At a Standstill,” a ten-minute comedy “about interaction between a living statue and a business woman,” according to Fox.
“I really like the visual idea of a living statue, and I really like exploring what type of person would have a job that is standing exactly still.”
Holtzman described “At a Standstill” as being “more thoughtful and character-based than Kelsey’s play from last year,” which Fox labeled as an absurdest piece, “but no less unique or fresh.”
Holtzman said Fox’s plays are “always funny, with dialogue that is snappy and realistic. You can tell it comes naturally to her.”
Fox’s plays in Playwrights’ from both this year and last year are comedies. She explained that she is more interested in writing comedy than other genres, “but that’s just at this current moment in my life.”
One of Fox’s playwriting challenges is keeping plays intended to be realistic “within the realm of possibility,” said Fox.
“Another challenge is getting a little distance from your work so you’re able to look at it with perspective, and being willing to almost start over with it.”
Fox explained that “plays change a million times from when they get selected to when they are performed.”
“You have this specific image in your head of what your play is going to look like, but the actors don’t have that same vision,” said Fox. “When the actors take the piece into their hands, they may find that the play means something different to them than it did to you, and you have to be open to that.”
In order to compensate for the many aspects involved in the creation of a play, Fox added that “when you’re writing a play, you have to leave some room for other artists, like actors, designers and directors, to interpret your work and put their own spin on it.”
One of the most significant differences between writing plays and writing stories is that “writing the play is only part of the process for getting to production, while when you’re writing a book that’s the whole thing, the final picture,” according to Fox.
Holtzman summed up the reasons behind Fox’s achievements, noting that “Kelsey says what she thinks, and it’s hard not to listen to someone like her–she’s wild, brilliant and inherently lovable as a person, and she’s serious, talented and creative as an artist.”
Brown said, “Fox excels as an actor, director, playwright and improvisational artist. She has taken advantage of all the opportunities Theatre Ink has to offer, and I hope she hires me to work for her some day.”