Senior Tanner Chaille to direct first play, ‘The Mysterious Act of Critique,’ featuring self-aware actors


Carolyn Zhang

Director and senior Tanner Chaille leads cast member and senior Maggie O’Scanaill. Chaille will be directing “The Mysterious Act of Critique” in the Studio One Acts.

Although not as common as straightforward plays, metatheater pieces are unique in the sense that the play refers to itself and the characters are aware they are being played by actors. Generally one or two metatheater pieces are performed for the Studio One Acts, even though it can be challenging to develop the “twist” that one acts are known for. For his first time directing a play, senior Tanner Chaille has decided to go with the metatheater piece, “The Mysterious Act of Critique”, which will run from Sept. 22 to 24.

“Since it’s my first play that I’m directing, I wanted to make a statement with it and I wanted something unique, funny, and the characters to be really fleshed out and not really what you’d normally see,” Chaille said.

According to Chaille, the reason for the lack of metatheater plays among the Studio One Acts is due to the difficult task of not only sending a message to the audience, but also the challenge actors must face when playing a character that is aware they are, in fact, a character in a play.

According to film teacher and director Jim Peterson, metatheater pieces have a plot twist that is not as commonly used as opposed to one in a straightforward play.

“There just isn’t a lot of material written that way,” Peterson said, “I don’t want to lessen it by calling it a gimmick, because it’s not really a gimmick, but it is a twist, a plot twist, and it just isn’t used very often.”

Peterson also said, generally, audiences tend to enjoy humorous plays more than dramatic ones. Although the majority of Studio One Act shows are comedies, Chaille’s will be the only metatheater piece.

Senior Maggie O’Scanaill will play one of the two roles in Chaille’s play. O’Scanaill also agreed with Chaille and said a metatheater piece is simply more challenging because of the play’s extra layer of self awareness that both the director and actor must develop.

“You have to think of all the different aspects with the background behind what the unspoken story is, whereas in another show it’s just kind of focusing on what’s happening there and then,” O’Scanaill said.

Despite the difficulty in producing a metatheater play, both Chaille and O’Scanaill encouraged anyone to come and watch the performance and see what exactly the twist at the end is.

“It’s a night of five really short, really funny plays and you’ll never regret it because it’s just a fun, casual thing,” Chaille said.