Junior to Direct Her Second Play “Starving Artists”

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Director, actor and writer, junior Grace Lowry is no stranger to the stage. Currently, Lowry is directing her second self-written play “Starving Artists,” which will show on April 27 and 28 in the Nasher-Haemisegger Theater.

Set in the 1950s, “Starving Artists” follows a painter, an actress and a playwright when they find that their work has been stolen under mysterious circumstances.

Last year, Lowry wrote her first one-act play “Flooded” while also acting in the Upper School play “Hayfever” and  musical “Curtains.”

“I really wanted to try directing because I had done every other aspect of theatre,” Lowry said. “By directing and writing, it gives me that whole view, and I think that’s important in theatre.”

After finishing “Flooded,” Lowry decided that she wanted to embark on writing a full-length play, so she started writing “Starving Artists” while directing “Flooded.” Then, summer happened, but Lowry picked up writing where she stopped and finished the second act of “Starving Artists” at the beginning of this school year.

Lowry found inspiration for “Starving Artists” when listening to Broadway songs about random scenes not connected to any particular musical. Specifically, a song titled “Crayon Girl,” which focuses on an artist living in New York who’s not getting anywhere in her career as she calls her mother, sparked Lowry’s interest for the story of her play.

Initially, the play wasn’t set in the 1950’s, but that changed after her great-grandmother passed away during the summer of 2016.

“I went to her house and she had all these old things and pictures,” Lowry said. “I decided I wanted to set it in the 1950s because of her, so I went back, I switched around some things and [“Starving Artists”] became that era.”

The process of transferring the play from paper to the stage was similar to that for “Flooded.” First, Lowry introduced the play to the Drama Club and Drama Teacher Emily Gray for approval. Then, Head of Upper School Terry Murray was the final approval.

From there, Lowry held auditions on February 7 and 8 open to Hockaday, St. Mark’s and Cistercian, cast students and directed. Although Gray checks in on the goings on of the play, Lowry is left in control of the play with additional help from juniors Ashlynn Long, Caroline Hogg and Lily Loose, who are Stage Manager, Head of Crew and Head of Design respectively.

“There was sort of a precedent from last year,” Lowry said. “[Gray and Murray] have put a lot of trust in me to say that I did this last year and now I’m good to go for [“Starving Artists”].”

Even though Lowry has directed a play before, she still struggled with directing students as a student herself for “Starving Artists.”

“As a student director, there can sometimes be times where you want to be assertive and director, but they’re also your peers,” Lowry said. “That’s sort of a fine line to walk, but I think I’m pretty good of staying there, but you have to be careful that you’re not crossing the line.”

Senior and Fine Arts Board Chair Tori Gudmundsson, who is playing the lead Eloise Thurman in “Starving Artists,” likes Lowry as a director.

“[Working with a student as a director] is a different dynamic because Grace is more relatable and a student, so she gets where [the cast] is coming from,” Gudmundsson said.

“Starving Artists” marks Gudmundsson’s last theater production and first play at Hockaday, since Gudmundsson has participated in every musical since freshman year. Switching from a musical to a play, Gudmundsson found it more difficult to learn the lines.

Also having a large presence in the productions at Hockaday, junior Paloma Renteria plays Tess Grayford, an actress who seems cursed to be an understudy forever and still hasn’t gotten her much needed big break, in the play.

“Grace has been talking about this show for over a year now,” Renteria said. “I’m lucky to be trusted with taking that character that’s been living in [Grace’s] world and put it to stage and to life.”

Besides the acting roles, “Starving Artists” features three radio singers who perform and sing throughout the show.

“If I ever went into [theater] in the future, I’d definitely want to look at it from a theater management or dirctorial side because that’s the most interesting since you get to work with both the cast and the crew,” Lowry said.

DATES OF THE PLAY

6:00 p.m. Thursday, April 27

4:30 p.m. Friday, April 28


– Maria Harrison – Asst. Features Editor –