Rachael Langton, Director.
Interview by Jen Bush
As the director of A Shot Rang out, Rachael Langton is excited to bring this new, compelling, and important piece to the stage. “I am a theater director who specializes in new work. I’m especially drawn to work that discusses the complexities of activism and social justice. I like to work with playwrights to develop their stories so that they can be realized into full productions.”
Michael Hagins’ WORLD PREMIERE:
A Shot Rang Out. Thursday, June 23 @ 8:00 pm; Theatre Row Studios (Theatre 2).
Thursday, June 23 @ 8:00 pm; Theatre Row Studios (Theatre 2) , NYC
Produced in association with the Downtown Urban Arts Festival
A white police officer is trapped in a warehouse during an increasingly violent protest with a scared Black teen and a disgruntled schoolteacher.
For Ms. Langton, the appeal of this play was a combination of the topic and the expressiveness of the physicality that takes place in the production. “I was drawn to the subject matter and the stage combat. I love how Michael takes a topic and puts it into a pressure container which forces characters of different backgrounds and beliefs into conflict. And as a stage director it’s so much fun to work with stage combat as a means of expressing the anger each character viscerally feels. I’m also drawn to the play’s subject matter of police brutality and have worked on a few theatrical research projects with the police department and think this piece does a good job exploring the divide between police protocols and humanity.”
Ms. Langton’s creative process involves a comprehensive evaluation of the script as well as collaboration with the artists. “I am a huge fan of script analysis. I start off by reading a play and noting my initial reactions, and then I go through the script to analyze it for plot, character, given circumstances and theme. From there, I put together a list of images or ideas that resonate with the play and start planning rehearsals. In rehearsals, I share these images through table work and staging, and then collaborate with actors to merge all the ideas in the room into one cohesive story that we can share with an audience.”
Ms. Langton recognizes the added responsibility that comes with undertaking a work with serious subject matter. “I think it’s important to research and meet each character where they are without judgment. Each character in this play is human and is coming from a specific perspective that makes sense to them, even if that perspective is problematic and hurtful. Without exploring that problematic perspective, and honoring it as a real circumstance, we cannot get to the core of why people do things. This is essential to starting a conversation to bridge the divide and start to implement change.”
While the pandemic changed every aspect of life as we know it, a positive change is that the health and safety of individuals is being treated as paramount during the ongoing challenges of Covid. “I’m really happy that a few changes are being implemented in the theater world: health matters overall. The actors and team’s physical and emotional well-being are finally being held as top priorities in the rehearsal room.While testing and masking is exhausting, it works and allows us to be back in the space together and do this vital work.”
After the run of A Shot Rang Out, producing and directing projects will be keeping Ms. Langton busy for the foreseeable future. “Next, I’m also directing a play in The Chain Theatre Festival called Self-Storage by Eugene Grygo and a one-woman show at The Secret Theatre Festival called My Fellow Americans by James Armstrong. In August, I will work with Rising Sun Performance Company to produce a weekend of children’s plays in Central Park.”