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Meet the director: 5 questions for Aishwarya Krishnamoorthy ’17

May 3, 2017
student leans against wooden theater setAishwarya Krishnamoorthy ’17 is the first student to direct a major production of the International Theatre Program. (University photo / J. Adam Fenster)

This spring’s production of Sam Shepard’s Buried Child marks the first time that a student has directed a play for the International Theatre Program. Guest directors, who are usually established in the industry, usually direct the student shows at Todd Theater, if not Nigel Maister, who is senior lecturer and artistic director of the International Theatre Program. “It’s a way to get students involved in a deeper design and creative aspect,” says Aishwarya Krishnamoorthy ’17, whose proposal to direct the play was accepted around this time last spring. “It’s one thing to assistant direct and to help with props and to help with design, and it’s another thing to actually do it in this capacity. This is a good learning experience.”

Krishnamoorthy is a double major in film and media studies and brain and cognitive sciences. She got involved in theater for the first time during her freshmen year at Rochester.

How were you able to connect with this work?
The play is set in the 1970s in rural Illinois. Even though it’s not set in the same time, it’s a story about a family, about a family with secrets. It’s [about] coming into your own as a member of your own family, and I think that’s something everyone can relate to.

actor and director speaking backstage

Krishnamoorthy with Bill McDonough ’20,who plays Vince in The Buried Child. (University photo / J. Adam Fenster)

What’s it like to direct your peers? I’ve directed before, and while I am the leader, there’s still a nice camaraderie going on between me and my cast.  I guess the difference with directing at Todd is that there are a lot more expectations. It’s a lot more high pressure.  So with other student groups I direct, I‘m more casual, but in this context, knowing what’s at stake, our rehearsals are longer, and we have more rehearsals.

You’re at the tail end of your senior year. How has it been juggling your finals, your schedule, and directing?
I ended up pretty lucky because I overloaded pretty much every semester since I’ve been here. [This semester] included a lot of theater credits, so balancing it has been nice and easy for me. For my actors, it might be a bit different. This production is a lot of work and very demanding.

director and stage manager sharing a laugh

Krishnamoorthy with production stage manager Kendall Gildersleeve ’17. (University photo / J. Adam Fenster)

Do you have a mentor or director that you look to for advice?
I do have a mentor who is helping me: David Henderson. He directs with [the Rochester theater company] Method Machine and helped mentor the [International Theatre Program’s] One-Act Play Festival last year. He gives me tips on how I should approach my actors, how I should approach my script, how I should prepare for designers, run crew for tech, and all these sort of milestones in the production. It’s been really helpful because as a student director in this program, I don’t know what is expected of me, and it’s been really nice having someone help me figure that out.

three students backstage, one getting make-up applied in front of a larger mirror

Krishnamoorthy, right, works backstage with Tori Powers ’18, left, and Sara Crane ’20. (University photo / J. Adam Fenster)

What should people know about this play and why they should attend?

It’s our peers (students) who put the show together. It’s going to be a solid, good looking, good sounding, good show. Maybe at face value the play isn’t necessarily relatable to people my age, but going through it, my actors and I have been thinking, ‘How does one play an older person?’ We talked about what happens to you in the course of your life that makes you who you are, and in this play a character comes into his own and realizes that he’s part of a family—and what that means for his family history. I think for people my age that’s something a lot of us are starting to experience.

Buried Child runs through May 6 at the Todd Theater on the University of Rochester’s River Campus.

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Category: The Arts