HRDC President Daniel A. Cozzens ’03 made the official announcement last Friday at a meeting open to all the club’s members that the Visiting Director Project, which aims to bring a professional to work with the group every two springs, had failed to find a director this year due to poor planning.
“Because of slowness of getting around to things, the contacts were not made,” Cozzens said. “We also did not realize soon enough that the contacts we were following up with would not work out. So we were left up the creek.”
Though last week’s announcement was the HRDC’s first formal admission of the project’s failure, many members said they had been aware of problems with the director search for some time.
Cozzens said that, even two years ago, the group had experienced difficulties finding a director and that the show “came together very late.” He said the same problems led to this year’s situation.
HRDC members have often called for more opportunities to work with theater professionals. The visiting director normally works with the drama group to put on a show at the Loeb Mainstage, thought of as the University’s most challenging theater space because of its immense size and the complexity of its technical apparatus.
Despite his announcement, Cozzens said there is still a slim, last-minute possibility of finding a director.
But many HRDC members said they have already accepted that the search iseffectively over.
“I’m extremely disappointed that there will be no visiting director this year,” said HRDC member Brendon DeMay ’03.
“The visiting directors in other years have been stellar. It is such a unique opportunity that we don’t get in the normal course,” he said.
Emily S. Knapp ’03 expressed similar sentiments at last week’s meeting.
“The collaborations with professionals have been some of my most rewarding as an actor,” Knapp said, “and we need to give actors that opportunity.”
Knapp and other HRDC members said that the Visiting Director Project should be able to find a professional every other year, and that they should expand the project to bring in professionals annually.
Associate Director for the American Repertory Theater (ART) and HRDC Faculty Advisor Marcus Stern, who served as visiting director in 2001, called the program an important learning opportunity for students because it “encourages students to push their own work to the next level.”
Stern directed The Great God Brown while visiting, and one HRDC member who attended last week’s meeting commented that working with Stern had been the best theater experience of his life.
Like Knapp, other members of the Harvard theater community said that merely enlisting a professional should be a given for the HRDC.
They suggested additional roles they would like a visiting professionals to fill.
Director of the Office of the Arts Jack Megan said that the visiting professional should not be limited to working on the Mainstage, but should also be given the chance to work in other, smaller spaces like the Loeb Ex.
“It might be nice if it were a visiting tech staff or a slew of designers, for example,” said HRDC member Jeremy W. Blocker ’04.
“It’s a way for people who want to be lighting designers to work with professional lighting designers with a lot of experience,” he said.