One-Act Play

Senior student writes and directs winter production


Senior Jane Bailey directs the on-act play that she wrote. Photo by Hope Laurencelle.

Elizabeth Bulat, Editor-in-Chief

For the past three years, every winter senior Jane Bailey would participate in the Rochester Alliance of Theatrical Students’ production of the One-ACT play. This year she was given the opportunity to direct and write the One-Act play rather than perform like she had in the past. The play will be performed at the Mid-Michigan Theater Arts Festival held at Garber High School in Essexville, Michigan. This is the 24th year that RHS will submit a one-act play to the festival.

 “It’s also a completely different perspective,” Bailey said. “Especially as far as theater goes, I want to see things from every point of view and not just things from performing on stage.”

 Mr. Frank Gollon is in charge of RATS and explained that the one-act play usually student produced. In the past, alumni students and current students, like Bailey, have been given the opportunity to write and direct the one-act play. Having students involved to this capacity alters the role that Mr. Gollon plays in the play production, since he’s often the director during the fall and spring RATS productions.

“With the one-act, my role is more advisor/mentor,” Mr. Gollon said. “Jane and the crew heads develop the overall design of the production and I help them to determine the most effective way to bring it to life.”

 Bailey approached Mr. Gollon last spring with her idea for this winter’s one-act play. He agreed since the play fit well with the festival’s requirements. The play that Bailey wrote, “A Charmed Life”, was based off a memoir that her great-grandmother had written about her life in Detroit. Bailey has a lot of respect and admiration for her great-grandmother and wanted to bring her story to life through her passion for theater.

 “The play is a collection of memories spanning several generations,” Mr. Gollon said. “The story lent itself well to the format we need at the festival, which is a play under 45 minutes in length.”

Bailey plans to study performing arts in college at Oakland University. While she plans to make acting her focus in college, she explained that if the opportunity to produce and write a play in the future presented itself in the future, she would absolutely do it again. Both writing and directing the play has been stressful and a lot of work for Bailey, but her directing assistant Robert Stelmaszek explained that she has been managing the workload well.

 “Jane is doing wonderfully. She knows how to work a crowd and get everyone to listen without being too much of an iron fist (although it’s kind of her schtick to be),” Stelmaszek said. “She’s been great to work with, always being very inclusive of my input and tasking me with what needs to be done. I believe that R.A.T.S. ‘A Charmed Life’ has something for everyone and will be exceptionally enjoyable— it has been for me.”

Stelmaszek has been a great help to Bailey through the production process. He helps by taking notes, designing shirts, taking attendance and helping to run rehearsals. Bailey also attributes much of the play’s success to the actors’ talents, flexibility, and cooperation.

“I have another director working with me and he is very hardworking as well that really helps,” Bailey said. “The actors are very talented, so I have a lot of good stuff to work with, and it’s always exciting and I’m always happy to go to rehearsal everyday.”

The one-act play being student run makes for a unique experience for the actors and producers alike. Mr. Gollon explained that since Bailey wrote the play, she has the ability to change things in the script to fulfill her artistic vision of the production.

 “Having a student director for the play definitely opens up more opportunity for the entire theatrical team to have more of a voice during production,” Stelmaszek said. “More room for tweaks can be made to keep things tightly tailored to our cast— there is less of an authoritative wall to have to bounce our ideas off of.”

Those acting in the play, including Sophomore Tara Flaherty, look up to Bailey as she held the lead role in last fall’s RATS musical, “Once Upon a Mattress.” Since Bailey has extensive acting experience, the actors respect her opinion and are happy to receive advice from her.

“I’ve always loved Jane’s acting skills,” Flaherty said. “So having her as a director can be nice because she knows what it’s like to be the one acting and she can give some amazing tips.”

The experience has been helpful to Bailey as well because it provides her with a new perspective on acting. She  admits to being very particular about directing the play and sticking to her vision, so she is using this opportunity to develop patience with the actors to help them improve. The growth that Bailey is welcoming from writing and directing the play allows her to express her creativity and become a more aware  and knowledgeable actor.

“It’s going to help in quite a few ways,” Bailey said. “Especially being in the director’s shoes and being able to see what it’s like and being able to have empathy for the director and it also gives me a sense of what the director is looking for.”