Interview with Nate Rtishchev ’21
JustArts: What was your previous directing experience before Godspell?
Nate Rtishchev: The first thing I directed, I was a drama camp counselor and I had to write, direct and produce an-end of-camp play, which was an experience. And then after that, last semester, I directed a Quickie. And just being in theater classes helps a lot.
JA: What are the most salient differences between directing a musical and directing a play?
NR: First of all, with a musical you have to deal with so many more people; musicals are just inherently bigger. And then there is the whole music side of things — the music directors and the whole pit — and I am lucky I have an amazing team on that side of things. And then choreography is another big thing and you have to kind of balance what purpose does the music serve, because every musical is kind of different.
JA: What was a typical rehearsal like?
NR: Most rehearsals, we like to start off singing and dancing at the same time. It’s a big concept in musicals. Our music director used to do show choir, and she had an old show choir exercise where we would all do jumping jacks in time to songs, so she had a whole playlist of songs at the right BPM. So we started off with that, and depending on the day we would either get into blocking, working through the parable stuff in between the songs, working on choreography, ... working with the music and then if we were working on choreography, just figuring it out. And as the rehearsal process went on it became … more fine tuning and finding little moments [in which] people could express character or … add a little joke or where we can make something more fun or more poignant or whatever the moment needs.
JA: Do you feel you had adequate support from the Undergraduate Theater Collective?
NR: It was interesting, because this was the first semester that they did this new system, of two of the three main [production staff ] hav[ing] to be at UTC forum. And we got a bunch of e-board members assigned to us [who] had to go to one hour of rehearsal a month, and they did show up. Ironically enough, they would all end up coming at the same time, which was interesting, and in the future the UTC board needs to figure out different times to all come. Certain members of the UTC e-board were very helpful. … I think that was a very long way to the answer. I definitely felt there was support, but some things I felt I was getting unnecessary support when I didn’t need it and not enough support when I did.
JA: Is there anything else that you would like to add?
NR: Everyone ... has been so supportive. Theater is about collaboration, and as a director you just get to make sure the collaboration works. Collaborating with all these people has been wonderful!