By Frances Hill
CHARLOTTE – Daniel McGee found his home in the Ardrey Kell Theatre Department during his freshman year and has done everything including writing plays, acting and technical work since.
Now a senior, McGee is trying his hand at directing. Although he has been given the directing reins for small, in-class assignments, this is the first time he has ever directed a full-scale production and the first time an Ardrey Kell student has ever been given this responsibility.
McGee is not only directing his one-act play, “Black Comedy” by Peter Shaffer for the community, but he is also preparing the farce for competition at the North Carolina Theatre Conference in November.
When asked why McGee was chosen to direct a play in the school’s “A Night of One Acts,” theater teacher Terry Gabbard joked, “He wouldn’t stop asking. He took any chance he could get to throw in a hint that he was interested in directing.”
Gabbard knew he was ready for this new challenge because of his “infectious enthusiasm, incredible work ethic and passion.”
Theater teacher Brian Seagroves agrees that McGee has proven he is ready for directing because of his strong leadership skills in class and in previous projects.
“The thing that was most impressive was how his cast bonded together,” Seagroves said. “He was able to instill in them a cast culture and ambition that was not matched by other casts doing the project. After seeing that, I knew that we had a student capable of taking on this challenge.”
McGee says this experience has been “incredibly rewarding” but he admits there have been “a ton of challenges” in the process.
“You don’t understand the stresses of a director until you’re put in that seat,” McGee said. “Being the same age of the students I’m directing adds another level of concern.”
Sometimes McGee has to remind himself that he’s the acting adult and likens his role to a camp counselor.
“It’s not authoritative in any way, but [I] do have a responsibility to make sure this show is successful,” he said.
McGee credits his own success to his hardworking cast and stage managers.
“This is by no means a one-man job,” he said.
He is also thankful for the continued support, teaching and directing tips Gabbard and Seagroves provide.
One tip Gabbard hopes McGee learns in this process is that “directing is really about aiming your cast and crew in a direction and allowing them to find the way.”
This advice will serve McGee well as he tackles this challenge and moves on to pursue film directing in college.