Next theater gig, please!

handWorking with timing

Juggling theater commitments is hard enough when you have one show in the works. But two? Carla Troconis ’19 talks about timing the work just right. 

By Samantha Neville '19

Theater at Harvard is consuming. When you are working on a production it becomes your world. I have been in one play at Harvard, and it was a challenge for me to balance my time. Carla Troconis ’19, on the other hand, is involved in two theater projects this semester. She is directing Next Customer Please, which goes up October 12 in the Agassiz Theater, and acting in Tis a Pity She’s a Whore, Eliza Mantz’s TDM senior thesis runs Dec. 1-9 at the Loeb Experimental Theater.

Troconis started acting in her senior year of high school, “kind of on a whim,” as she says, but has acted every semester of her college career. This is actually the second time she has both directed and acted in the same semester. Fall of her sophomore year she directed The Submission and acted in Nuestra Señora de las Nubes. She is also treasurer of the Harvard Radcliffe Dramatic Club and has a job as a tour guide. Her strategy is to direct something early in the semester and act in productions that open late in the semester, and to be open and upfront about her time commitments.

“All of the people staffing ’Tis a Pity, like Eliza the director and Julia the stage manager, they all know that I’m directing this show and until this show closes, it’s my first posterpriority because I’m the director,” Troconis said.

I went to a rehearsal of Next Customer Please, and I was struck by how effectively Troconis commands respect while still being lighthearted. She was telling everyone how rehearsal was going to go when she noticed that new lights had been put up on the set. She stopped going over directions to fawn over the developing set. Then she went back to business.

The check-in for the cast was an activity called Rose, Thorn, Bud. Everyone shared a rose, a positive note and a thorn, a negative note, and a bud, a positive developing note, about their day or their week. Thorns included being sick, writing essays and having someone’s crush switch sections, and roses included getting sleep and a family visit. Troconis’ positive note was that she had been accepted to the Signet Society, and talked about the Latinx Arts event she wanted to produce there.

Back at the rehearsal, Troconis told me Boyd Hampton, who graduated two years ago, wrote Next Customer Please and reached out to her – the two are friends – and asked if she would direct the show. She agreed because she found it funny and relatable.

“I really wanted to direct a comedy because directing a show in general is stressful and hard, and that can often be made even more stressful and hard if the subject matter itself is a stressful, hard, subject matter, so I was kind of ready to bring some laughter back into my life and to the life of the people working on the show,” Troconis said.

Directing a comedy, however, has its own challenges. The show has a lot of moving parts because almost all the scenes have the five main characters. Timing is of utmost importance, as it is in most comedies.

“I never found myself having to work so closely in such a detailed manner with the timing of maybe even just a sentence or a word,” Troconis said.

Her main suggestion to people interested in getting involved in the Harvard theater scene was to not shy away from starting small and not feeling like they had to do a production on the big stage their first year unless they were ready. She also suggested getting involved in any of the facets of theater: acting, directing, designing, doing tech work.

“Sign on to projects that you’re really passionate about,” Troconis said. “I’ve never regretted giving my time to projects whether I was an actor, a director, a designer or a technician that I was passionate about and that I believed in.”