Student Director Spotlights Body Consciousness to the Spotlight with “Most Massive Woman Wins”
Zully Sosa, executive editor
This past weekend, Augsburg’s theatre department presented “The Most Massive Woman Wins” (“… Woman Wins”) starring a small cast of four led by student director Amanda Todd. Written by Madeleine George, “… Woman Wins” reveals the insecurities of four women waiting in a liposuction clinic’s lobby. The play delivers the ugly truth about body image through monologues, schoolyard rhymes and short dialogues in one act — making it an impactful experience for any audience and the perfect challenge for Todd and her cast to face as a student-led production.
The theatre department chooses only one senior student to direct a show each year through an application process the year prior. In the application, Todd chose three plays to potentially direct and explained the artistic vision she had for each. She admitted that choosing a show was a difficult process, noting that she spent about three months reading through hundreds of scripts until finalizing her application.
Despite being prepped for the experience by a stage direction class and years of theater experience, Todd still faced a feeling of imposter syndrome. “I am not an actor. I am solely a technician and that was a concern of mine heading into this process, as I don’t have the same intuitions as actors,” she explained, “My stage management team, Lauren Stadler and Zeldie Anderson, helped a lot. I had to get out of my head and realize I had [taken] a directing class and knew what I wanted to see on stage, I just needed to learn how to vocalize it.”
Luckily, Todd’s cast didn’t share those anxieties about her directing. “She trusted us to build our characters and make choices that made sense for them,” said Abi Hilden, who plays Sabine in the show, stating that “Amanda is honestly one of the better directors I’ve worked with.”
Todd made sure to keep communication open with actors and technicians during rehearsals and on stage. In the show’s final scene, after we have learned the insecurities and traumas these four characters have endured, the audience watches the women undress as they prepare for their liposuction procedures. Hilden credits the production’s closed rehearsal policy as a reason why their experience was so positive, as it built trust amongst the cast and crew quickly, and pointed out that “Almost all of the creative team are women/femme presenting people, which I think is a really important aspect for this show.”
The closed rehearsal policy was extended as long as possible. “We didn’t even have the designers come in until two weeks before tech week,” Todd reveals, explaining that actors were given authority over what their final “underwear” costume would be. Additionally, an intimacy coordinator was present for rehearsals to ensure all possible precautions were being taken. “Emotionally, we had conversations the entire time about the stories we were telling and how they were affecting the actors,” the director asserts, adding, “We were earnestly and honestly telling these stories of the characters because the character’s stories will resonate with people in each audience.”
Todd completed her first directing experience on Sunday, Feb. 5 as “… Woman Wins” ended its production run. “I would love to direct again!” she shares, “I don’t know where my future will take me and if the opportunity ever comes up, I’d love to jump on it. But for right now, my ambitions are focusing on costume designing post graduation, especially until I have more experience in the world.”
Students interested in directing a show at Augsburg for its 2023-24 season have until Feb. 19 to submit their proposal. To learn more about prerequisites, project parameters and more, contact firstname.lastname@example.org.