BFF: A Student-Directed Play

March 2, 2021 Jaidyn Kamplain, Staff Writer

(ABILENE, Texas) At the end of January, the Hardin-Simmons Theater Department presented BFF, a thought-provoking play written by contemporary playwright Anna Ziegler. With a limited audience of 40 people in HSU’s Down Centre Stage Laboratory Theatre, BFF provided an intimate experience that allowed the audience to deeply connect with the three-person cast and detailed storyline.

BFF was included in “Director’s Cut,” a series of student-led shows produced by HSU theatre students. “Director’s Cut” allows students the opportunity to produce plays, helping them gain experience and prepare them for their future careers.

“The purpose of the Down Centre Stage Laboratory Theatre is to give our students the opportunity to practice and demonstrate the skills that they are learning in class,” said Dr. Victoria Spangler, Artistic Director and Associate Professor of Theatre. “The ‘Director’s Cut’ provides a platform for them to do that. These student-driven productions go beyond the scope and requirements of class work but are not as complex as a fully realized mainstage production. The focus of this endeavor is on the process, be it directing, design, or acting.”

Senior theater education major, Madison Murgia, had the opportunity to direct BFF, working with stage manager McKenna Jones and other Hardin-Simmons theater students to achieve a touching performance that addressed deep friendship, grief, and the value of memories with loved ones.

“HSU’s caring environment listens and uplifts any ideas you might have. I have found a love for directing this year,” said Madison. “HSU theater has done an amazing job of providing opportunities for me to grow and enabled me to take on projects while supporting me. I have learned so much through classes, but more importantly, I’ve learned through hands-on experience and collaboration!”

Not only was BFF a learning experience for the cast and crew, but the audience also gained behind-the-scenes insight in a talkback following the performance. Members of the audience, including many HSU theatre students, were given the opportunity to ask questions and discuss details within the play. Costume designer Cassidy Davis was asked about how she planned around quick scene transitions, and Thomas Lutz discussed lighting strategies for the production. Actors Sydney Keating, Jillian Ruiz, and Tyrell White-O’Neil answered questions regarding their roles, providing deeper insight into the characters they portrayed. The talkback created a unique learning experience for all who participated and displayed the educational intent of the “Director’s Cut” series.

Madison is currently student-teaching here in Abilene and hopes to work in the theatre or education field in the future.

“I can’t believe my time at HSU is coming to an end, but I feel very proud of the work I have done, the people I have met, and the way I have carried myself,” stated Madison. “I feel prepared for any upcoming adventures!”

For more information on the theatre program or upcoming shows, visit HSU Theatre’s webpage.