The balancing act of a student director

Ryan O’Toole says stage directing is “challenging but really rewarding at the same time.” Theatre UNB’s production of Stephen Belber’s "Tape" opens this week at Memorial Hall. (Tom Bateman/AQ)

It’s theatre season at the University of New Brunswick and one of its students has been creating a buzz surrounding his directing debut.

Third-year Ryan O’Toole is directing his first full-length play, Stephen Belber’s Tape, this week.

“It’s the first play I’ve ever directed – well, the first play longer than 15 minutes,” said O’Toole.

He said he’s acted in numerous plays, but his true passion lies in directing.

O’Toole is pursuing a multimedia stud­ies major with a minor in theatre at UNB and is doing the play as part of his minor. There were four positions to fill for the play, like stage manager and technical director, but he said he really wanted to give direct­ing a try.

“It’s challenging but really rewarding at the same time.”

O’Toole admits that directing a play is more time consuming than your usual school assignment, but said there’s no real way to get around the long hours.

“I don’t really have any strategies with balancing that stuff. I guess I just tough it out. There were a fair number of late nights where I’d come home from rehearsal at maybe 11 or so and I’d still have a few hours of school work to do. So, I’d just do it.”

O’Toole wasn’t really interested in the­atre he was younger. It was only after hav­ing drama class in Grade 8 when he de­cided to try out acting. That same year he auditioned for an acting for film sum­mer camp that was run by Theatre New Brunswick.

“I really loved it and I wanted to do it all the time. Suddenly it kind of became my priority when I had free time and other things didn’t so much and it just went from there. I just got more involved as the years went on.”

Even though Tape is his first stab at di­recting for the stage, O’Toole has direct­ed several films and said it’s more of his speciality.

“Directing for film is probably the most artistically rewarding thing that I’ve ever done because you put to life the images and the emotions.”

Making it as a film or stage director is no easy task, but that’s something O’Toole hopes to achieve someday.

“I would like to make films and work on films. It’s a huge dream and it’s one that’s very hard to make come true, I guess. I think it’s something that involves a lot of luck from what I’ve understood so I’m just hoping that I get lucky.

“I’m still trying to improve [and] do the best I can.”

“Tape,” starring Becky Forbes, Jake Mar­tin and David Otis, shows at Memorial Hall on UNB campus Nov. 2-5. Doors open at 7:30 p.m. and the shows start at 8 p.m. Tickets are $6 for students and $10 for adults.

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