Original play hits the stage after months of work

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The conversations of Phoebe and Felix, two characters in senior Rachel Miller’s “The Draft,” punctuate the show with phrases such as, “Tough break, Moon Pie.” This original play, written and directed by Miller, hit the stage in Bethel’s Octorium on April 9 and 10 at 7:30 p.m. “The Draft” depicted the process a writer named Emily went through to write a romantic script. Emily’s character not only crafted a love story between her imaginary characters, Phoebe and Felix, but also unknowingly fell into her own romance with her friend, Tony. Performed as Miller’s Senior Exit Project, the show fulfilled the requirements of her directing classes. A brief talk-back was held after the show, during which the audience members asked questions of both the actors and director. Many who attended the show wondered how Miller arrived at her final product. This production has been in the works for many months. “I started writing the first draft over the summer,” said Miller. “I put the finishing touches on toward the end of Christmas Break.” However, Miller also commented that she started working out plot ideas and characters long before that. The next step toward producing a play was holding auditions. Miller held two nights of open auditions. On the first night, students performed a memorized monologue. After they performed, Miller gave them further instructions hoping “to see how they took direction” because this was an important trait for Miller to have in her actors and actresses. In order to select students for each role, “we took a night and went to Tradewinds and hashed it out,” explained Miller. “Some were no-brainers; some were a bit more difficult. A lot of talented actors tried out.” During the rehearsals which followed, Miller spent much time developing characters. “Rachel had us go through the script and find something new about our character each rehearsal,” said freshman Hannah Taubitz, who played Emily. “It became more than lines on a page.” Audience members wondered how much of the characters were based on people Miller knew. “Many characteristics from people that I know, sometimes consciously, sometime unconsciously, made their way into the show,” Miller admitted. “I’ve had it pointed out to me: ‘that’s just like so-and-so’. I said, ‘oh my gosh….oops’!” During the talk-back, an audience member asked the cast how they rehearsed for a kissing scene near the end of the production. “We started at the first rehearsal,” commented senior Asha Stichter. “I figured we should just get the awkwardness out of the way.” Miller also addressed the question, saying “I didn’t have to direct them in that area much at all.” Miller’s production was very well-received by the audience. “My favorite thing about the show, besides the fact that Rachel Miller wrote and directed it, was Rachel’s attention to detail,” commented junior Stephen Loewen. “The silent parts were the best; Miller and Stichter kept their characters going and those were some of the most brilliant moments of the show. I didn’t feel like I was watching a college-level performance.” Furthermore, students were astounded by Miller’s writing ability. “Rachel Miller is a fantastic writer,” declared junior Becki Visker. “She nailed the romantic comedy and spoke truth through it.” While Miller wrote and directed “The Draft”, she feels strongly that she could not have accomplished this alone. “I love the collaborate element of theatre,” Miller said. “You must have other people or it just won’t work.” Miller feels blessed by the talents of the students involved in the Bethel’s theatre department. “They are heroes,” said Miller. “I couldn’t have made it through this alive and sane without each one of them … They encouraged, and they loved. Thank you all!”
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