New DramaLab Producers Bring Skill and Passion to the Stage

Next fall, as the lights dim and the crowd erupts in applause in George Washington Hall’s black box theater, Emma Kukielski ’15, Michaela Barczak ’15 and David Benedict ’15 will lead the show as DramaLab Producers for the 2014-2015 school year.

According to Barczak, the Producers organize every aspect of DramaLabs, weekly student-produced plays. Their tasks include choosing directors for each production, helping student writers edit their plays and teaching newcomers acting techniques.

Although the new Producers have different theatrical interests, they are united by having grown up around theatre. Benedict has been acting since the age of five, but became interested in technical theatre during his Junior year at Andover. Barczak, whose parents are both involved in theater, first began appearing in musicals at the age of four, but at Andover, she decided that directing was better suited for her needs and experience. Kukielski fell in love with theatre in first grade after participating in several mandatory performances for her school in Canada.

Barczak said, “The first theatre I did at Andover was the DramaLabs. I remember getting to Andover and being really nervous that I would never be cast in anything because my peers would be too talented. I remember checking the theatre callboard that one Wednesday and seeing that I had gotten a DramaLab — I was so nervous and excited! I did a lot of DramaLabs after that point.”

Since then, the three have found their own niches in Andover’s theatre community.

“I realized that directing and producing just made sense to me, more so than acting,” said Barczak. Kukielski, on the other hand, has explored both acting and directing.

“I assisted in stage managing and had a small role in ‘Comedy of Errors,’ and after that, I’ve just acted in different things, directed and did tech and stage managing for any and every production I could,” said Kukielski.

Benedict, Kukielski and Barczak stood out from a total of eight applicants this spring.

“We chose David, Michaela and Emma [because they] are passionate, committed and enthusiastic about theatre,” wrote Esther Cohen ’14, one of the three current Producers, in an email to The Phillipian. “They are all skillful in theatre as well, though in different ways. Because producing is such a team effort, we tried to strike a balance between technical, directing, acting, organizational and other skills in next year’s Producer team.”

Both the new and current Producers have high hopes for the DramaLabs in the 2014-2015 academic year.

“The past couple years have been a time of transition for the DramaLabs and the Theatre & Dance Department as a whole,” said Cohen. “Next year, the DramaLabs will hopefully become even more of a safe, fun, challenging space that can cater to both theatre rookies and veterans equally.”

“We definitely want to make the DramaLabs a safe space for non-actors and directors who want to try something new, while also creating an opportunity for more experienced actors and directors to challenge themselves,” said Benedict.

The Producers also hope to create longer DramaLabs, organize a student film festival and generate interest for and awareness of theatre in the Andover student body.

“We are always striving to increase the number and types of opportunities students have to do theatre at Andover, no matter their experience or interest level. I’m excited to see exactly what David, Michaela and Emma have in mind!” said Cohen.

Kukielski, Benedict and Barczak look forward to a busy but rewarding year in the Theatre Department. “I’ve always found the Producers to be the ambassadors for the Department to the rest of the school. We’re often the point of contact for students who want to get interested in theatre,” said Kukielski.