The Renee Hartz Interview: tackling a serving of VegSOUP

Senior Renee Hartz, who directed last semester's The Most Fabulous Story Ever Told, will be one of the many creative minds behind this semester's VegSOUP productions, which will be three one-act plays. Hartz will direct senior Anastasia Stumpf's Truth Therapy. The Lamron sat down with Hartz to discuss this bold new direction for the student-run drama series.

The Lamron: What drew you to direct this particular play?

Renee Hartz: I actually read through several student-written works, and Anastasia asked me to look at it and possibly direct it. I really liked it. I thought it was a really fun script. There were lots of possibilities. I thought it would be very successful on the stage, and I really wanted to see Anastasia's work as a success.

The Lamron: How do you feel about Anastasia's surrendering her script to you as the director?

RH: Well, Anastasia's been really great about it. We actually talked about it before we started anything because I know that if I had written a play it would be really hard for me to see somebody else change anything. When you write something, you see it a certain way in your head. As far as I'm concerned, in my experience directing, it's just important to have a vision and to interpret things as you think they'll work on the stage. Any questionable things I've done I've tried to run them through Anastasia just to make sure that she wasn't shocked or confused when she came to see it.

The Lamron: How have you and the other VegSOUP director Jason Gonser worked together to produce the play?

RH: It's been kind of interesting. At the beginning of the process, we worked together very closely. We held auditions together. We talked to some of the designers together. As far as set design, we're both using the same basic set. Since we've been rehearsing, we really haven't had much interaction with each other. He just saw my show for the first time a few days ago and I just saw his shows for the first time since auditions. Now that we're going into tech week and we're going to put these three plays together as an ensemble, we're talking about how the plays will speak to each other.

The Lamron: What were some of your goals, and what were you looking for during auditions?

RH: We actually had a lot of people show up for auditions. I don't know that we necessarily went into them with any preconceived notions about the parts. We were excited to see some new people at auditions. That was something we were really looking for, to have a good combination of experienced theater people and new people in the department. Other than that, just strong people who can carry their parts and that are willing to try new things and have a good time.

The Lamron: How have rehearsals been going so far?

RH: Rehearsals have been going well. Unfortunately, our department's pretty busy so we've been having to work around a lot of different things. But it's a great group of actors I'm working with. I really lucked out. They've all been really easy to work with and fun.

The Lamron: What's been the biggest challenge in the production process?

RH: I think the biggest external challenge would just be time conflicts and space conflicts, getting everyone in the same place at the same time. And putting this whole show together under time constraint because we don't have a very long rehearsal process.

The Lamron: How do you envision Truth Therapy on stage?

RH: It's kind of a bizarre, almost creepy look at the inner workings of someone's head and how their fantasies mix with reality. Hopefully that will manifest through the acting and through the different design elements.

The Lamron: How should the audience be prepared for this play?

RH: As far as being an audience member for the entire Working Title production, I would like them to come and see how these three very unique works can speak to each other. I think it's a good opportunity to see the wide variety of things that can happen on a stage. So just recognizingthe fact that the students have produced the plays from all different stages.