It’s October and we are finally getting some much needed fall weather! It’s the perfect time for s'mores, hot apple cider and ghost stories. It is also National Arts and Humanities Month!
This week I had the opportunity to talk to Tanner McCormick, one of the student writers and directors of Miami University Theatre Department’s Echoes of Miami, and got to learn what it’s been like to be involved with such a daunting project.
Kaitlin: What is Echoes of Miami?
Tanner: Echoes is a series of short plays that are all about the history of Miami University. Some are ghost stories, some are mysteries, and some are just historical. All of the plays were written by either current Miami students or recent grads, and all of the directors are theatre students except for one who is a theatre faculty member. The original idea was to have each show perform in a different spot on campus, but that was deemed impractical, so all of the plays are performed in different areas of the Center for Performing Arts.
K: What is your role in Echoes of Miami?
T: I co-wrote “An Evening With the Snyders” along with recent grad Anthony Thompson, and I am directing “Haunting in Peabody 237,” which Anthony also wrote.
K: What does that entail?
T: The writing part was really interesting and somewhat challenging because Anthony was in Los Angeles, so we were co-writing yet unable to ever be in the same room with each other. That meant a lot of long phone calls and edits/messages in the sidebar of our google doc. For directing, the biggest component is just all the thought that goes into it. Rehearsals total just a few hours a week, but I also have production meetings to go to, in addition to having to think about issues and problem solve any time I get a chance. Because of the limited rehearsal time, it’s important that I’m able to figure things out on my own so that I’m then able to communicate the solutions quickly and use the rehearsal time as efficiently as possible.
K: Is this something you’ve done before or is it a new experience?
T: I directed a play when I was a senior in high school, and I’ve been an assistant director a couple times since getting to college, so I do have some experience. I have more responsibilities in this production than I’ve had before, though, so it’s definitely been a learning experience. For playwriting, I’d done some in-class assignments before but I’ve never had anything that I’ve written performed. That’s really exciting to me, but also really nerve-wracking because I’ll just be wondering if people like it the whole time.
K: What has the process been like? What has it been like collaborating with several different writers and directors?
T: The process as a whole has just been wonderful. It’s been stressful at times (and will get more stressful once we really get into tech) but I’m having a ton of fun. I actually have slightly more responsibilities than some of the other directors since I also wrote one of the plays. As a director, I have to be in some meetings and communicate with designers about the show I’m directing. But as a writer, I also have to be in meetings for that show, as well as communicate with those designers and that director if there are any questions about the way something was written. Being friends with most of the people involved definitely helps, because if there are any issues on my end or someone else’s we can just text each other to figure things out.
K: What has been your favorite part?
T: Directing is one of my favorite things to do, but it’s something I don’t get to do very often so that’s definitely been my favorite part.
K: What are your shows about?
T: “An Evening with the Snyders” is about a chemistry and physics professor at Miami University in the late 1800s who was one day found dead of cyanide poisoning. It was ruled a suicide, but things were complicated when his wife went on to marry his former research assistant. It’s a lot of fun because the audience actually gets to decide who they think killed Henry based on what they see in the play.
“Haunting in Peabody 237” is about two Miami football players in 2005 who got haunted by the ghost of Helen Peabody. They’d been making fun of the portrait of Helen that hangs in Peabody Hall, and Helen’s ghost exacts her revenge.
Echoes of Miami will be performed in various locations in and around the Center for Performing Arts and opens Thursday, October 18th at 7:30pm and runs through Sunday the 21st. Student tickets are $6 and can be purchased online or at the Campus Avenue Building. Tickets will also be available at the door an hour before showtime.
Kaitlin Kegg is a senior theatre major, arts management minor, from Columbus, Ohio. In addition to her studies, Kaitlin enjoys working part time in the theatre department office and is looking forward to stage managing The Revolutionists in the spring of 2019.