Interview with Megan Pecot – Director of Birmingham Southern College production of Never Have I Ever

Name: Megan Pecot
Class of: 2018

What is the experience like to direct the first production of a new play?

It is very exciting to be able to work on a new play. This is not only the first production of Never Have I Ever, but my first time directing! I’ve learned so much already. Since this is a new play, we are completely on our own to create the world of the play. The actors are discovering their characters within the new script and it’s been amazing to see them bring the characters to life on stage for the first time. It feels much more personal, since there is no reference to look back to. On top of that, all of the technical designers are having the chance to create the first designs for the play – costumes, set, lights, and sound. I am so grateful I’ve been given the chance to guide and shape this production for the first time.

What is the value of being in contact with the playwright, Jan Rosenberg, during the process?

It’s extremely valuable to be able to talk with Jan Rosenberg. I had the experience of meeting her in NYC to help in the development of the play with The Farm Theater. That gave me a lot of insight into the world of the play. Since then, as we started the process of putting on the show at Birmingham-Southern College, I’ve contacted her with my own questions about characters, as well as questions from the actors. The whole process has been very collaborative and has helped me be more confident in my directing. It’s nice to know she is just an email away. I can’t wait for her to see it – I’m very proud of the work the company has been doing.

What has been useful in the process to connect your ensemble to the theme of the play, the issues addressed, as well as the personality of the play?

I think the most useful thing has been bringing in eating disorder councilors and specialists to talk to the company. It really gives everyone more insight into the issues of addictive behavior, specifically eating disorders. Once the actors have the concrete research, they can integrate that better into the stories of their characters. The cast and I did a lot of discussion early on in our process – I asked them all to bring in “biographies” and we discussed them as a group. This was useful – as it allowed them to flesh out their own relationships with the other characters as well as connect to their own. They also know they have access to councilors on campus. They understand how serious the issues addressed in the play are – but they have become such a strong ensemble and they play off each other for the funny moments as well.

cast photo NHIE
Cast Photo (from left to right):
Isabella Alday, Abbie Riggs, Jackson Massey, Colton Hinderliter, Stephanie Lee, Charlotte Schorle, Abby Henken

As a director, and as you shape the telling of the story – what is the experience you hope the audience has with the play?

I hope that it really opens the audience members eyes to the scale of the issues addressed. It’s not just Anorexia and Bulimia that are addressed in the play – but many unhealthy addictive behaviors. It’s important to be aware of them. The media is awful in portraying many of these behaviors as “healthy”, when they are not. Additionally, I hope the play expands people’s knowledge of eating disorders and gives way for discussions about them. This is not a dancer’s disease – eating disorders can affect anyone. I think it’s extremely important for the audience to learn that truth – and I hope this show leads them to it. I believe that theatre is one of the best ways to bring up these topics. Jan Rosenberg has created an incredible script and I hope we can expand people’s knowledge on these topics and have honest conversations by sharing this play.

 

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