Writing, Learning, Growing from ‘Before You Go’

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Meetra Moyer and Mady Bell on set of Before You Go

Insecurity, low self-worth, lack of confidence — many have felt these at one point in their lives. The cast and crew of Before You Go explored this theme.

The play, written and directed by theatre graduate students Meetra Moyer and Mady Bell, respectively, is part of their master’s thesis projects. The Cinderella-reminiscent story tells the journey of Elise, her cruel sister, and Stephen, “a man who’s kind, who sees (Elise’s) true potential and knows her worth,” Moyer described.

According to Moyer, the play is “Elise’s journey of figuring out who she is and finding her confidence and knowing that she’s more than what she thought she was.”

The curtain rises on the dramatic reading of Before You Go at 6:30 and 7:30 p.m. both Oct. 1 and Oct. 2 in Rehearsal Hall. Tickets can be purchased online.

A Fairy-Tale Inspiration

Moyer began writing her play shortly after the 2021 spring semester. She worked with Meghan Reimers, adjunct theatre faculty who teaches the undergraduate and graduate playwriting classes.

Though first drawn to adaptations of the Iliad and Greek mythology, Moyer’s exploration docked in the fairy tale realm. “I was just super curious with the aspect of different relationships and how it affects you. So as we talked through things, it became evident that I wanted to talk about relationships and how you navigate life and people.”

Moyer wrote adaptations of fairy tales from June until mid-August. “I ended up creating Stephen and Elise and Helene in the first draft, and so I ended up working with them through different fairy tales, which was really interesting because I got to really flesh out their characters and see who they were in slightly different situations, which was really fun,” she said.

Encouragement in Directing

While Moyer wove the fairy tale, Bell’s task was to bring it to life. Though most of her thesis has been in acting, Bell said directing Before You Go has stretched her skill set. “Working different areas of theatre actually helps actors because it just makes them a little bit more aware of what everyone is doing around them.”

Bell has also seen how her personality has strengthened her as the director on this show. Struggling with some of the same insecurities as Elise, she identified with the character in a way the actor cast in the role did not.

“I cast an actress who’s very self-confident, and Elise is not a confident character,” she said. “I carefully drew from my own personal experience … but it was a joy to be able to be like, ‘I know how to explain this to you.’ ”

In addition to explaining the logic behind Elise’s choices, Bell gave Jensen direction on her posture and characterization. “During argument scenes, she (Jensen) will draw herself up fuller,” said Bell. “And I’m like, No, you need to bring your shoulders in. You need to cover your chest with your arms. You need to take timid poses because you’re not Karie who’s confident. We don’t do Superman poses during fights. We kind of end up closing up because we don’t know what we’re doing.”

Bell said this production has highlighted for her a principle the faculty teaches the graduate students: “Being confident in failure.” Bell added that she saw herself growing the most in her confidence during rehearsals. “During blocking rehearsals last week, I would look at Kate (Jones), who’s acting as my assistant director (and) my stage manager. She’s taken stage directing (more recently) than I have. … I kept looking at her going, ‘Is this a good thing?’ And I just ended up having to say, ‘No. I’m not going to ask you. I’m going to make this choice, and if it fails, it fails. I’m going to be fine with that.’ And I just kept rolling.”

Bell found Before You Go an encouragement because she saw herself in Elise. “It’s nice to see someone else going through inner struggles that you typically will have that you’re like, ‘I’m not the only one who really struggles with this part of me.’ But then seeing someone like Elise overcome that, it’s so encouraging,” she said.

“Everyone loves a good fairy tale,” said Moyer. “We all want the happy ending, and as Christians, we have a happy ending. We know that’s going to be there, but we are still here. When something bad is going on, you can’t just (snap) ‘I’m done,’ or it’s suddenly good. God gives us so many blessings, but we still have to work through those things and go through that. I wanted that to be a strong theme because I think that is our reality.”