A Director’s Thoughts about “A Separate Peace”

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We had a chance to sit down and chat with Director Buck Rogers about the season opener, A Separate Peace, by John Knowles, at West T. Hill Community Theatre. See what Buck has to say about this entertaining but thought provoking play.

WTH: How did you learn about this play?

Rogers: I became infatuated with the power of John Knowles classic novel, A Separate Peace, as a rookie English teacher in the late sixties. It was required reading for my college prep classes, and, to be honest, I was unfamiliar with the novel and the author. Not only did I greatly enjoy the powerful story of adolescent angst and triumphs, I was amazed at how hungrily it was consumed by my students, females as well as males.

WTH: How did you come to direct this show?

Rogers: Many years later, working in an all-male prep school, I was more or less assigned to direct a play of my choosing. I was pleasantly surprised to discover Nancy Gilsenan had adapted Knowles’ classic novel to a play, and I found the dramatic version held many of the same seductive elements as Knowles’ award-winning novel, so I cast it, directed it, and showed it to the world. They seemed to like it. Given the opportunity to once again choose a play to direct, it was an easy choice for me to go with this show; it elicits virtually every human emotion and tells a story we adults have all lived in one way or the other.

WTH: Tell us a little about the story.

Rogers: The play is set in a prim and proper New England prep school for boys, a boarding school attracting the best and brightest guys from all over the U.S. Though there are several interesting characters, the plot is built primarily around the love-hate relationship between two memorable guys–Gene and Finny. Gene is the classic bookworm and valedictorian wannabe, not a total introvert, but certainly rather reserved and focused on his studies. Finny, though anything but stupid, is the consummate charmer, able to beguile teachers, peers, and even headmasters with his wit and devil-may-care attitude; he is also one of the most naturally gifted athletes in New England, and can excel in any sport or physical activity he chooses. The see-saw relationship between these two is complicated by the looming fears of the draft and the horrors of a world war. The play showcases most of the adolescent challenges we all have faced as we move to adulthood, but the story and the setting give it even more punch than most tales of growth and survival in the teenage mode. This play will give audience members of all ages both entertainment and food for serious thought.

WTH: Who should audition for this show?

Rogers: There are speaking roles for six males, five of which must be in the prep-school age range, roughly 16 to 20 as they are mostly rising seniors. There is also one older male, roughly in the 45 to 65 range, to play a wise New England Head Master, though this role is important, the character only appears at the start and end of the show and he would not have to be present for every rehearsal.

WTH: When are auditions?

Rogers: Auditions are set for Wednesday, August 3rd and Thursday, August 4th at 6:30 PM at WTH main theater (not West Wing). You are encouraged to come to both auditions if you can.

WTH: How should actors prepare for the Auditions?

Rogers: Auditions will consist or cold readings, so it is not necessary to memorize anything before auditions. If interested actors can read the short novel, it may help them get a feel for the characters they are reading. If there is enough interest, we can probably cast two or three additional young males for a group party scene; they would not have to attend all rehearsals in those roles.

WTH: When will rehearsals take place?

Rogers: Rehearsals will most probably be on Sunday afternoons and Tuesday and Thursday evenings (we’ll arrange times after we get the show cast). The final week, Tech Week, before the first show, we will rehearse every night.

WTH: When will A Separate Peace production take place?

Rogers: The show will be six shows the last two weekends in September, September 23, 24 25, 30, October 1 and ending on October 2nd. Shows Friday and Saturday nights are at 8:00 PM and Sunday afternoons at 3:00 PM.

WTH: Any final thoughts?

Rogers: If you have questions, call me, Buck Rogers, @ (859) 583-7351 or email bucrog@gmail.com. My associate director will be Ross Johnson and the stage manager will be Jean Crawford; I feel they are great additions to putting together a very fine production. No experience is required to be considered, but obviously experienced actors are strongly encouraged to add this classic show to their resume.

A link to the short novel, A Separate Peace by John Knowles.Watch Cyberbully (2015) Full Movie Online Streaming Online and Download

A link to the 2004 Movie, A Separate Peace