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Legacies and Lessons: The Hangar Fellows embark on their summer

May 25, 2014 / by Melissa Crespo


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Tomorrow begins the continuing of a legacy. At least according to Drama League alum Will Detlefsen. I, along with three other directing fellows, leave for Ithaca and will spend the summer at the Hangar Theatre. We caught up with Will on Friday to get the scoop on what to expect. He spent the summer of 2012 at the Hangar. He said that we are joining a league of artists that will automatically understand who we are and what we have been through. It will forever be a special bond. So yes, it sounds like Will is absolutely right and I couldn't be more excited! This is the Hangar's 40th Anniversary Season and their first season with Jen Waldman as Artistic Director. This summer is already poised to be a special one. 


A week ago the 11 fellows of 2014 experienced Professionals Week, the gem of the Director's Project. We were shepherded around the city to meet the movers and shakers in the business. From a lesson in commercial theatre with Jack Viertel, Senior Vice President of Jujamcyn Theatres, to the ins and outs of Theatre for Young Audiences with Artistic Director Barbara Pasternack of TheatreWorks USA, it was a whirlwind of learning. We also saw eight Broadway and Off-Broadway shows in addition to attending the Drama League Awards. Needless to say, we were exhausted but having the time of our lives.

One of the most memorable meetings was with Costume Designer Michael Krass, a current Tony nominee (and former Hangar designer!). He cooked brunch for us in his gorgeous apartment and didn't hold back. I was in heaven. One of the things he talked about most was about the role of the audience, "What are we giving an audience by way of experience?" According to Michael, in a production the director is responsible for every breath, smell, image and movement from start to finish--whether the play has text in it or not. In theatre, the audience is the only necessary element. Everything else is a choice. When I heard these words, I wanted to scream "YES!" I went back in my mind to every memorable production I have ever attended. Why was it memorable? Because the minute I stepped foot in the theatre, my world was transformed. Each moment of my time was taken with great care. My mother is always saying, "Love is in the details" and she is absolutely right. 


Michael's words have been pounding in my head as I prepare to direct my two shows at the Hangar. I will be directing a children's show and a show of my own choosing: Bunnicula by Deborah and James Howe and The Map of Lost Things, a new play by Maggie-Kate Coleman. I can't wait to see the spaces and get to work. Let the summer begin! 

Pictured above: Teya Sugareva and Melissa Crespo, 2014 Hangar Directing Program Fellows