The Mountain Times

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The play: Intentional arrangements advance the plot

Steve Stettler came from Weston Playhouse recently to give a program at Osher. From his director's chair he had a lot of interaction with the audience. Stettler talked about the difference between the producer and the director of a play. The producer is the money person, concerned with the cost of things, the budget and future planning. The director is the collaborator, helping actors interact with the play and with each other, bringing the story to life. He has the vision. If the play is a revival, he understands why the story resonates today; he makes the play work. If he has chosen a brilliant cast then that alone can make the play successful. Stettler is both a producer and a director, one of three people with that title at the playhouse and the only one who is a resident.

Critics play an important role, Stettler said. They ask the question like "Was the play worthwhile?" and "Was it done well?" Directors and actors learn from this kind of commentary.

Weston's Main Stage this season features four modern classics: Educating Rita, Next to Normal, and 42nd Street and To Kill a Mocking Bird. The latter, a true classic, will be seen for the first time on the Weston stage. In addition, the Youth Company will perform a musical version of the children's classic, "Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day."

Stettler spent some time recognizing members of the audience included Peter Marsh and a number of local producers, directors and old friends including Helen McKinley from the Gables. 40 years ago her father hired him to teach English, launching Stettler's career.

To emphasize the importance of using space to make the play successful, he selected four 'characters' from the audience. He demonstrated that changing their positions on the stage could advance the plot. The fourth 'character' stood in the door most of the time doing nothing but when he came through the doorway he became the center of the story. After the demonstration, we were all ready to be in the play, to be one of the collaborators. Unfortunately, Settler had to leave to go to Randolph to judge a children's play, just as our interest was peaked.

He certainly had the audience's interest while he was with us.