/Inside the Mind Of: River Reed, Student Director (Part Two)

Inside the Mind Of: River Reed, Student Director (Part Two)

So what is your favorite thing that you’ve been involved in since coming to Montevallo, production-wise?

It’s a tie because my first production here that I performed in was “The Good Person of Szechwan”, and it was an amazing experience. It helped grow as a person just because of what I had to go through doing that, and we won’t talk about that because it gets way too deep. But I ended up growing so much as a person. I ended up finding a really good friend in Chan Harris, and I think that really just kind of started all of this. Then when I was in “Circle Mirror Transformation” I started growing as an actor and as a theater professional. I realized what it is that I want to do, and it’s funny because I say I realized what I wanted to do, but there’s not a tangible thing. What I realized I wanted to do was learn everything I possibly could. So it’s not really like: “There’s my end goal.”

Why did you choose “Property Rites”?

We did a production of this at my high school, and it was cool. But I always thought that we could’ve gone farther. And I think part of it was that the show is actually written that it can hold an enormous cast because it’s written for generally a high school setting, and I think even in the playwright’s notes it says something about how you can have up to twenty women, up to twenty men, and that’s a massive cast. We had a really big cast in our production, and I always thought we could’ve gone farther. There were things that I wanted to explore again with the movement, and what things you didn’t say. All that. So that show just kind of stuck with me when we did it, and last year I came to the conclusion that since this was pretty much going to be my last semester I wanted to go out with a bang. I wanted to see if I could do something that not a whole lot of people have done. There have been other people who have come to the professors here and said, “I want to start this thing. Is it cool with you?” And they’re like, “Yeah. Go do it.” So I kind of followed that footstep, but the way that I did it I don’t think has been done before. Or at least talking to people, nobody can remember or at least point to a spot. So I don’t want to steal anyone’s thunder, but. It was just really cool because I talked to, I want to say, about 12 professors and they’ve all helped me get this done. And I’ve talked to three campus departments. I’ve talked to two different student organizations, and I went and I pulled people from Purples, from Golds, from our theater, and some of them aren’t even theater majors. In fact, one of our more major roles in the show is an English major. She just happens to really like theater. So that’s really cool. I guess really “Property Rites” was the show that stuck out, and then I saw the potential to create so much within the show and within the community. It was just a really cool way to connect. Especially because it’s about a bunch of robots that come to life so when you bring it to Montevallo, and you start telling people, “Hey, do you want to come play a robot that kills people later? Great!” And it supports a huge cast so there we go.

What is the most rewarding thing about directing?

It’s that sense of exploration of again, tying back to theater, I’m exploring what it’s like to pick up somebody’s work and say, “You’ve written this. How can I bring this out?” Then just working with actors in a directing capacity of how can we work together to make this something more. So I already reach into the story and I’m like, “What can I pull from this?” Then I reach into the actor and I’m like, “What can you pull from that?” And then it just builds and builds. There’s always something left to discover, and something that they like to say in the department is that it’s called a play for a reason. So we should always feel free to play. And we definitely got that with this cast. They’re a rambunctious crowd. So it’s always really fun. I’ve never had a moment of just pure frustration that lasted more than like thirty seconds, and all of that was always like, Somebody can’t be here tonight because they got sick. Oh well.” You know? We’ll just keep going.

What’s the most challenging thing about directing?

The fact that I’ve never done this before means that there’s so many things I didn’t know about. So budgeting, I didn’t know that fell on me. Paying for it. That was something new. Getting the scripts was the worst experience of my life because you had to buy a specific software and then that software doesn’t tell you that you can only open it once and print it. You can only print it the first time you open it so it was just this crazy mess. And it ended up taking six professors trying to help me get this done. I went to the library. I went to our theater office. I went to Ms. Gill, and then I ended up having to go to a COMS professor who figured out what we needed to do to actually be able to print it legally. So it’s just all the details that you don’t think about as being the actor. A part of it is I poured all of my money into it so I’m living on Ramen.

And Diet Coke.

Yeah, Ramen and Diet Coke. So there’s that college kid lifestyle coming out right here at the end. Love it.

Literal starving artist. So what is the thing you’re most exciting about everyone seeing?

I want them to see these people. They’re amazing, and there’s so much that they brought that I wasn’t expecting. And I guess that’s really just the biggest thing. I want them to see my actors, and I want them to see who they become when they get on stage because 99 percent is not them anymore. They have committed to these people, and I mean, they’re playing robots. And they all wrote full backstories. So that shows you how committed these people are, and it’s just. It’s awesome.

What do you think is the scariest aspect of “Property Rites”?

I think the scariest thing is that looking at these figures we see a lot more reflected in the struggle they have to go through than you think. Because on the surface, it’s robots who are coming out and they’re saying, “we don’t want you to tell us what to do.” Direct correlation to that would be slavery. That’s the easiest connection to make, but depending on how you do this, if all of our robots are women and the man that owns them, then it gets a very feminist slant. If you look at it through the lens of some of the human characters, it becomes about human trafficking. There’s so many interpretations inside it, and in a couple of the scenes we really tried to play with that. How by doing one more thing you can reveal another layer under the show. So the scariest aspect is how much it can actually show you.

So what do you see yourself doing in five years?

In five years. Well, I’m hoping that I will be relatively fresh out of one or two internships that I’m looking at which are really cool, very intensive schools. It’s kind of like graduate school confined to a month. You’ve just got to power through. I’m really hoping I’ll come out of those, and I’ll have enough people that I can continue doing stuff like this. Of going and finding something and just creating work where I am. And traveling a lot. I’m thinking I’m not tied down to a spot. I’d love to just be like, “Hey, do you need somebody in Seattle?” And walk over to Seattle.

You have a fixation with Seattle (laughs).

It just popped into my head because I saw the blue and thought: rain! Seattle. I don’t know.

Finally, who do you want to run for President in 2020?

2020, oh.

This might not be included, but if it’s funny it might be.

If Sanders is still kicking, I’m going to roll him up there. I don’t care. That’s where I’m going.

“Property Rites” will be performed Friday, October 21st at 8 p.m. and Saturday, October 22nd at 2:30 and 8 p.m. in Comer Auditorium. Tickets are $3.

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