The New York Film Academy Los Angeles (NYFA-LA) Acting for Film department finished off the Fall Season of their Student Directed Play series with two successful productions of Three Days of Rain, written by Richard Greenburg and directed by Alex Giarratano, BFA Acting for Film, and Private Lives, written by Noel Coward, and directed by Sara Sedran, BFA Acting for Film. The plays were mentored by full time faculty Riley Steiner and Cathy Giannone.
Three Days of Rain is a play by Richard Greenberg that was commissioned and produced by South Coast Repertory in 1997. Three Days of Rain was nominated for the 1998 Pulitzer Prize for Drama.
“During the production of this show, one of the biggest things I learned was how to have total faith in my actors and crew to help me execute my artistic vision,” says student director Alex Giarratano of the experience. “I would say directing a play and getting so much help from my cast and crew restored my faith in humanity to some degree. I greatly look forward to tackling this process again and I just want to give you my thanks one more time for giving me this opportunity.”
Private Lives is a 1930 comedy of manners in three acts by Noël Coward. It concerns a divorced couple who, while honeymooning with their new spouses, discover that they are staying in adjacent rooms at the same hotel. Despite a perpetually stormy relationship, they realize that they still have feelings for each other.
After touring the British provinces, the play opened the new Phoenix Theatre in London in 1930, starring Coward, Gertrude Lawrence, Adrianne Allen and Laurence Olivier. A Broadway production followed in 1931, and the play has been revived at least a half dozen times each in the West End and on Broadway. The leading roles have attracted a wide range of actors; among those who have succeeded Coward are Robert Stephens, Richard Burton, Alan Rickman, and Matthew Macfadyen, and successors to Lawrence have included Tallulah Bankhead, Elizabeth Taylor, Elaine Stritch, Maggie Smith, Kim Cattrall, Penelope Keith, and Lindsay Duncan. Directors of new productions have included John Gielgud, Howard Davies, and Richard Eyre. The play was made into a 1931 film and has been adapted several times for television and radio.
“I’ve always wondered what a director’s job was until I decided to direct a play for the first time,” says Sara Sedran about her experience. “It’s hard—even harder than I expected it to be. In it I found happiness, excitement, disappointment, frustration and what it means to be tired, because you are dedicating 120% of yourself to something you care about. I learned what passion means and how it helped me carry on and not give up. I learned about trust. Trust for my actors and crew members, but most of all trusting myself no matter if other people don’t. I learned the power of decision making and what it takes to be determined.
“Directing is very much like drawing on commission with a permanent marker—you start from scratch to create your art piece, you choose all your tools but you can’t erase, only adjust and on top of that you only have a limited amount of time. Even though it might not sound like it, it’s the most fulfilling experience.”
If you are interested in directing a play at NYFA’s Los Angeles campus, we are now taking submissions for next semester’s Student Directed Play series until December 9. Please see the flyer below—we are especially seeking scripts with global impact and cultural diversity.