Teens taking direction

ASA students during rehearsal for a one-act play directed by Will Snider

As the 83rd Annual Academy Awards draw near, plenty of folks have been rushing to see nominated films like “The King’s Speech” and “The Kids Are Alright.”

You’re likely familiar with the names of nominated actors like Jeff Bridges and Nicole Kidman — but what about names like Tom Hooper and David O. Russell?

They’re two of five best direction nominees (counting Coen brother Joel and Ethan as a single nominee), but they’re hardly household names.

Too often we focus exclusively on actors, neglecting to recognize the contributions of other folks who make film and theater happen — producers, directors, writers and such.

Even Will Snider, a Phoenix 17-year-old theater arts student at Arizona School for the Arts who regularly performs in community theater productions, admits he rarely looks at directing credits for the shows he sees.

But I suspect that’ll change soon enough — because Snider is one of five ASA students directing one-act plays that the ASA theatre arts department is presenting this weekend at the Phoenix Theatre Little Theatre downtown.

He’s also been directed by peers in an ASA directing class, and admits it can be challenging to take direction from fellow students. “I’m probably harder to direct because I have my own opinions,” says Snider. “I’m very outspoken.”

“Now that I’ve directed,” adds Snider, “I see how it can be frustrating.” I’m eager to see the finished product this weekend, and have a little confession of my own at this point.

I’m rather enjoying the thought of teens giving and taking direction from each other. Just maybe, some of them will see parallels with the experience of parenting.

We parents typically know what we’re going for, but children so often have input to the contrary. Teens taking direction is something I’m quite eager to see — especially for the modest ticket price of $5 (which benefits the school’s thespian club).

As a high school junior, Snider is at the beginning of that lovely process of choosing which colleges he’ll apply to — something that’ll be a bit more complicated in his case because he’s planning a dual business/theater major.

Knowing there are plenty of options for Valley theater-goers this weekend, I asked Snider why people should come to the ASA performance of short plays titled “Friends, Enemies and People on the Subway.”

“It may seem,” says Snider, “like we’re just a bunch of high school kids.” But don’t forget that “high school kids come up with the funniest things.”

He shares with genuine enthusiasm that “we have a bunch of creative kids” and describes the students’ acting as “high energy.”

Do the math. At a buck a play, you’re getting some serious entertainment value.

Plus, you never know when the young actors and directors whose work you’re enjoying today will be there on the silver screen, or holding a golden statue, tomorrow.

— Lynn

Note: ASA notes that these plays are appropriate for all ages and that members of the general public are invited. Click here for specific showtimes and ticketing information. Tickets will be on sale at the door only if the shows do not sell out.

Coming up: The dance of motherhood, The fine art of homework, New eyes for old haunts, Neil Simon — here and there, Art galas galore!

Photos by Will Snider


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