Blog Faculty

Jennifer Hunter Travels to Toronto

By Melissa Brookman on Thursday, August 30, 2018


Northwestern Director and Professor of Theatre Jennifer Hunter traveled to Toronto, Ontario in Canada this summer to attend a workshop called “Directing with Richard Rose.” The workshop was “based on the exploration” of a directing process—a how to go from your first reading’s gut impression to moment-by-moment rehearsal with actors.

“We looked at the relationship between instinctual reactions, concept, research, analysis, design, characterizations and the rehearsal process. Central to this directing process is the principle of action–the tool through which a director can tell stories, motivate actors, visualize designs and actualize metaphors,” said Hunter.

The workshop’s creator Richard Rose is the most well-known director in Canada, and his directing technique is considered legendary and innovative in his field.

Hunter admits that her main motivation to attend this workshop was to learn to tell stories well and she already had the pleasure of seeing Rose teach in the past.

“In 2011, I had the pleasure of attending the Director’s Lab North. Richard Rose came in to teach one of the sessions on directing. It was mind-blowing,” said Hunter.

The conference focused on Richard’s philosophies and techniques as well as other members working together to create a short play under his guidance.

“It was great to stop and start and have his input, even on the most minute thoughts or ideas. During my directing session, Richard asked about my usual process and approach. He then asked me to share those with my colleagues after the break. I was hesitant at first because I approach plays in such a different way. It was well received and reminded me that there are so many ways to open up a play and study its insides. While not all approaches might work for each individual, it still makes you study the play and reach a depth and understanding that is essential as a leader or director,” said Hunter.

Hunter admits that this conference really was for her benefit because she knew it would help her personally as an artist and as a director. She really wanted to grow and further her studies as a professional. However, as a professor, she can now bring these new techniques into her classroom to help enrich her own students.

“I’ve already started to incorporate some techniques into the first show ‘Alice in Wonderland’ during our UNW theatre season. Richard really encourages you to workshop, workshop, and workshop some more the ideas that you have. He says, ‘You learn from failure, not from success.’ So I am really going with some ‘outside of the box’ ideas with ‘Alice.’ I held a workshop this summer with our actors to try out some of my ideas, it was an extreme success! I found that some of my dreams were brilliant, and some fell flat and we got rid of them. But we had the best time exploring and creating, and I can’t wait for us to share them with an audience,” said Hunter.

While she was there, she was excited to reconnect with two old friends. She met Evan Tsitsias who is the Director at Director’s Lab North and Stephanie Graham who is a Canadian choreographer and director.

She thinks it is important to have good Christians in the music and theatre industry, but she admits she is not a fan of the term “Christian artist.” Instead she thinks she falls more in line with being an artist who happens to be a Christian.

“Christians have a different purpose in the art that they create. We glorify the ultimate Creator when we, in His likeness, create theatre to represent and mirror life. II Timothy 1:7 says, ‘God doesn’t want us to be shy with his gifts, but bold, loving and sensible.’ At UNW, our program strives to embrace the artist in every student, foster the growth of the individual, and bring to light their creative gifts. All with the ultimate goal of sharing and pointing the glory back to Christ our Savior,” said Hunter.

She also thinks that God gives us passions and gifts for a reason: to share them with others and to have an impact.

“If you find that your passion is what God is calling you to do, you must follow that direction. While you are following His call, arm yourself with knowledge and experience. UNW wants to train students as a ‘whole’: mind, heart, hands. Our university is a ‘safe’ place to fail! So fail, fail some more, and learn from failure,” said Hunter.