Snow may be falling in Jackson, but there’s no chill on creativity at Off Square Theatre Company. The group is presenting Meredith Dayna Levy’s play, “Decision Height,” in the Black Box Theater at the Center for the Arts from Nov. 4 through Nov. 6.
Off Square Theatre’s student-run production company, Off Square Players, is overseeing everything, from casting to curtain calls, in the creation of this fully fledged production. “Decision Height” tells the story of six female aviators navigating life, love, family and more during World War II.
In advance of the production’s opening night, Jackson Community High School senior and director Clare Eddy and Off Square Theatre’s Associate Producer and Development Manager Sadie Frank joined us in the KHOL studios.
Listen above for more and check out a transcript of the interview below. This conversation has been edited for clarity and brevity.
KHOL/JACK CATLIN: Clare, as the director, how did you approach and execute the play?
CLARE EDDY: If I’m going to be honest, it was a little chaotic. I didn’t exactly know what my directing style was going to be. I mean, I have helped with a few plays in the past, but nothing that is just so fully ‘me.’ I’ve seen directors completely block the entire play beforehand, and I’ve seen directors come in with nothing prepared. I knew that I needed to be somewhere in the middle. I couldn’t block the entire play because I’m still in high school and have things to do. But I kind of approached it with a collaborative eye and kind of like, ‘Okay, so here’s the general gist of what I want this scene to look like. But as actors, I want you to make choices and I want you to do what feels natural to you. And if I hate it, I’ll change it.’ In my opinion, theater is very much a team sport and so it’s a lot of working together and kind of finding a happy medium.
KHOL: Sadie, as the development manager of the Off Square Theatre Company, can you expand on the importance of getting younger theater hopefuls involved, not only in the theater in general, but especially in the entire process, from pre-production to curtain calls?
SADIE FRANK: Yes, I’m very passionate about this. The thing that’s important about getting them involved from start to finish is when you’re young, you don’t know what you can do and you don’t know how much power you have and how smart you are until you do it and until you have the space to do it. And I remember feeling that way when I was a senior in high school, doing exactly what Clare’s doing, directing my first play, and I had no idea that I could do it and that myself and a group of seven other high schoolers could pull a real play together until I did it.
And we are developing in these students real professional skills that are marketable as well as like Clare’s talking about the teamwork, their sense of responsibility, the sense of control. These students have complete power over what they’re doing, which is literally empowering and creates young, confident, excited individuals who are fully invested in what they’re doing. They’re not being forced to do anything. They’re excited about what they’re doing.
KHOL: Well, finally wrapping up here, what are you hoping the local community takes away from these performances?
EDDY: Well, I think first and foremost, the local community is awesome and is super supportive of theater and youth theater. But pulling together this sense of a completely student-run production, I don’t think has really ever been done before in at least Off Square history or really the town’s history. So I think seeing what young people are capable of is going to be huge for this community. And then also it’s just a lovely story and kind of getting the morals of friendship and female empowerment. There’s a lot that the community can gather from it, and I think that all are very good things.
FRANK: We’re excited to show Jackson what a group of excited teenagers can do when they’re put in a room with no phones and they’re not partying. They’re creating.
Listen above for KHOL’s full conversation with Off Square Theatre’s Sadie Frank and Clare Eddy.