For years, the annual 'One Act Play' was neglected.
This was my chance to change that.
Before going into high school, I had zero experience with plays. At the start of freshman year I had 6-7 years of experience with musicals under my belt, and I had always turned a cold shoulder to anything that didn't involve song and dance. That was, until, I discovered the UIL One-Act Play.
What is a 'UIL One-Act Play?' In Texas public schools, there is a one-act play competition that occurs every year. You're given forty minutes to present a play using specific guidelines in terms of content, and you're given certain set pieces that every other school also gets. Some schools took UIL very seriously. However, at my high school, we were known throughout the greater Houston area for our musicals. Our musicals had insane budgets and months upon months of rehearsal put in. UIL was usually thrown together haphazardly by a few students who really wanted to be a part of it for the acting experience, rather than schoolwide acclaim. The budget definitely reflected that. In terms of our season, the UIL One-Act was the redheaded stepchild of the department.
As a freshman I decided I'd audition for everything I could, including plays. Despite having no straight acting experience, I auditioned for the One-Act that year, which was Chemical Imbalance: A Jekyll and Hyde Play. I was cast as a set of identical twins, one an angel, and one made of pure evil. I was hooked. I'd found a place to really hone in on what it meant to be an actor that was free of the pressure for success; this was for us, and it was very low-stakes.
I continued to do UIL for two more years, and then I was given the opportunity to student direct She Kills Monsters my senior year. We'd also been given a limited run in our school's Black Box to do the full show, which we had never done before. This meant that we finally had a budget, and though it wasn't much, it was enough. I knew that after years of UIL being brushed under the rug and not being taken seriously, this was my time to change that.
By the end of the run, I'd assumed multiple creative positions: Marketing Head, since I designed the poster, T-shirts and edited/organized a promotional shoot; Props Head, creating many a D&D monster out of recycled materials; Sound Designer, creating multiple unique tracks (that were free); and light board operator once it came time for the One-Act Play competition. We ended up with a completely sold-out run of the show, and actually made money since we were extremely resourceful in sourcing the show materials.
As for my directorial approach, every choice was driven by the relationship between Agnes and Tilly. This is a play about grief, sisterhood, remembrance and "fitting in." When we eventually had to cut the show down to forty minutes, we made sure to never lose that sisterly bond. Dramaturgically, we also wanted to stay as integral to Dungeons & Dragons as possible, and this was reflected in our design, blocking, characterization, and the manifestations of these characters inside & outside of the D&D world.