This week, justArts spoke with Leah Sherin’19 who directed the Undergraduate Theater Collective’s “The Sparrow.”

justArts: How did you decide you wanted to direct this play?

Leah Sherin: So I think what drew me most to it was really just the story. For me, it’s all about, you take this small town in the middle of nowhere, and then you just kind of put a microscope on it and look at all the tiny little things that happen there. And even though it’s the middle of nowhere, and it’s so irrelevant to the rest of the world, this town is going through such tragedy and are confronted with this accident that happened 10 years ago and this girl coming back who reminds them of it, and they go through this transformation, and I think it’s just a beautiful story with how you zoom into this really tiny town. So that’s kind of what drew me to it and made me want to bring it to life!

JA: Considering how much you loved the story, what made you want to direct this show rather than act in it?

LS:  I think that this story is a lot about the big picture, and I think when I think about the story it’s not just each individual character; it’s about the whole town. So I think by directing I was able to take a step back and look at the whole world we create and try to create this world that encompasses all these ideas [such as] control and tragedy and hope. 

JA: Was choreography and music already in the script, or did you incorporate them yourself?


LS: So a lot of what we did was not really scripted. The script would give us stage directions like “Emily causes her books to fly all around the room,” and we brought in the ensemble and had them carry books as if they were flying in, and Emily controlled it. We kind of interpreted it as we wanted to, but we knew coming into it that we — Hannah McCowan ’19 and I — we kind of crafted the world of how we wanted the movement to fit in together, figuring out these big dance pieces with also these movement sequences that can sort of tell the story. And although the script is beautiful and gives us so much of the story, it also doesn’t really tell you the full story of the accident and everything, so we used our movement sequences, [such as] the shaking pictures at the beginning and Emily’s dream to explain to the audience what had happened in the past and how we got to where we are today.


JA: What was your favorite part of directing?

LS:  So much of it! I was really fortunate to have an amazing, amazing team working with me — the cast and the whole production staff. I think my favorite part was just working with the cast. We did a lot of it together — I would come in with an idea, and I would talk to the cast about it, and we would figure out how to stage it in the most effective way, and we would go through different ideas and kind of create this whole product together. I think the collaborative process was really, really special.

JA: What’s your favorite scene in the show and why?

LS: The pig dissection! It’s so out of nowhere, but it’s just such a lively moment, and it was really challenging for the cast to learn; it was a really challenging dance! It was amazing to see it come together and just to see how this crazy moment that Emily controls comes out of nowhere; I’m still surprised whenever it happens! 

—Lizzie Grossman