An Update from the Fellow!

This blog post was written by Kenan Directing Fellow Wiley Basho Gorn

Switching “Hats”

Wiley and Ava
Wiley Basho Gorn works with this year’s Tiny Tim (Ava Drummond) on the crutch walk cross

The past few weeks have been especially engaging. My directing fellowship showcase, As You Like It, has had three weeks of rehearsals so far (more on this in a later post) and A Christmas Carol has just opened after a whirlwind two-week rehearsal process. A Christmas Carol celebrates the 40th anniversary of Greg Falls’ adaptation being presented on ACT’s stage. It is a Seattle holiday tradition, a community favorite, and although the design elements remain mostly the same each year, the constant flow of new actors to each character brings fresh life to a timeless story.

From L to R: Adam St. John, Harry Jamieson, Lorenzo Roberts, and Carol Thompson in rehearsal for As You Like It

For me, the past two weeks have been a blur of holiday spirits and explosive verse speaking as I pop from A Christmas Carol to As You Like It rehearsals. The schedules of the two productions are set back to back so I’ve been switching the “hats” of Director and Assistant Director on a daily, and sometimes hourly, basis. The most important lesson I’ve learned during this experience is that of “pacing yourself.” Rushed work, while it may seem to be done faster, is not real work. Real work takes time and as a director you need to be willing to give it the time it deserves even if that means falling off your pre-planned rehearsal schedule. The pressure of time can eat away at a process and is a catalyst for fear and insecurity: “Will this be done in time?” “We don’t have enough time to get the show where it needs to be.” “I’ve wasted the time I had and as a result the show will not be good enough.” In these moments we let Time run us. Directors need to own the time they are given and firmly believe in their use of it.

John Langs always approaches the work of directing from a personal place. Even though this is his 4th time directing A Christmas Carol, he keeps the story fresh and new. The shorter rehearsal schedule is balanced by a deep trust in the story and the company cast to tell it. John used our shortened timeline to strengthen and specify our attack on the play. There was little time for intellectual discussions: we needed to pick a course of action and run with it. This gave the actors clear “marching orders” and a sense of purpose. As a result the show moves with great energy and intention, all actions finely focused upon changing Scrooge for the better.

Wiley is a recent graduate of the School of Drama at the University of North Carolina School of the Arts (UNCSA) in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. The Kenan Fellowship Program at ACT is made possible by support from the Thomas S. Kenan Institute for the Arts as part of the Career Pathways Initiative. For more information about UNCSA and the Kenan Institute, visit


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