Two weeks into her Junior year, Erica Nork ’16 walked into DramaLab auditions buzzing with excitement. New to campus, Nork had actually chosen to come to Andover partly for its theater opportunities. Despite getting cast in a DramaLab, Nork’s dance commitments took precedence, and she was forced to drop out of the production. Still eager to make her Andover theater debut, Nork signed up for a 24-Hour Play, a day-long production that kept her in George Washington Hall (GW) for 12 hours.
“My first official time in the DramaLabs was the 24-Hour Plays during my [Junior] year. Basically what happened with 24-Hour Plays was they’d have writers stay up all night and write plays overnight, and then, directors would choose scripts at 7 a.m. Then, actors would come in at 8 in the morning and rehearse all day until 8 at night [when they would] perform them,” said Nork. “[I spent] a full 12 hours in GW rehearsing a ten minute play, and it got me in touch with the spirit of the DramaLabs, which [is that it’s] not necessarily about a clean performance – it’s mostly about learning by doing… You learn how to act by acting.”
Nork said her experience with DramaLabs gave her invaluable experience as an actor and a director.
“Over time, I began to love acting in DramaLabs. My Lower Spring was actually the first time I even wanted to try directing, just because it seemed like a fun change,” said Nork. “I actually like directing far more now. It’s incredibly rewarding, and you get to put your stamp in a show. Also working with actors, you get very invested in a new way.”
Nork’s favorite DramaLab in which she participated was “Illuminati in Drama Libre” by Alice Gertsenberg. Directed by Lydia Kaprelian ’13, the show’s grand finale involved buckets of paint.
“The play was Cubist, so basically every line was pretty much one word or two words, and [the play] ended with me throwing paint – like actual paint – on the other actor. I think that was my favorite, just because it was so ridiculous, and also it [was performed after] two weeks. We had only about five rehearsals in two weeks, and then it was going to go up, so that was a lot to memorize. It was difficult, but it was absolutely a blast,” said Nork.
As a director, Nork has created her own directing style. She confessed that food often appears in the DramaLabs that she directs.
“I am notorious for always having food and messes in my DramaLabs. Pretty much every show I’ve ever directed, there’s been a mess on the stage. Notably, in a play I did a couple months ago, we decided on Thursday night that one of my actors was going to have a giant bag of Cheetos and be eating them throughout the show. And he decided to emphatically throw a giant handful in the middle of the show, and I was standing behind the booth, like, ‘Oh no!’ because I had to clean it up,” said Nork.
Now as a Producer, Nork must use her passion for theater and her creativity in DramaLabs. According to Nork, the Producer job involves paperwork and logistics in addition to helping DramaLab directors and actors with their shows. For all these tasks, Nork is excited to have Mahaniah and Conklin alongside her.
“I could have not have asked for a better Producer team. I’ve been friends with both Kieto and Foster since our [Junior] year. Kieto is incredibly type A and organized. He’s also very rational, which I appreciate a lot because I like ridiculousness and he’s like, ‘But this has to get done.’ He’s also incredibly knowledgeable about technical theater,” said Nork.
“Foster offers a whole new opinion of the Drama Labs, and I think he’s caring more towards the kids who are like him, who haven’t acted before and who learned things as they go along and have actually developed a love of theater through the DramaLabs. I really believe in his ability to advocate for them. Overall, I couldn’t be happier with the team,” continued Nork.