This semester’s student director is senior Kennedy Kemmerer. Kennedy is a double major in Theatre Studies, with a Directing/Performance emphasis, and Business Administration. For this year’s one-act she chose The Yellow Boat written by David Saar. We interviewed Kennedy to get a better understanding of her experience at Chapman and her directorial process. 

The Director

Kennedy began directing as a freshman at a local youth conservatory in January of 2020. After directing shows such as Newsies, Guys and Dolls, and Bye Bye Birdie, she discovered her love of directing. Becoming a director was never a career path that she had envisioned for herself but once she discovered her passion, Kennedy dove in.

She has taken every directing course offered at Chapman. She said that Acting Fundamentals, Meisner Technique, Directing 1, and Directing 2 were four courses that gave her the meticulous lens needed to direct successfully. 

To be able to better communicate with the other designers on creative teams she also enrolled in technical theater courses, such as lighting design. The one-act is her second directorial role at Chapman this semester, as she was the assistant director of The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time mainstage production. After graduating this upcoming May she hopes to continue to build her professional resume in the Southern California area. Kennedy also values passing on her knowledge and experiences to high school students.

The Process

Cast of The Yellow Boat in Reheasal

Kennedy begins her process by getting a strong understanding of the story as well as what the important messages she wants to convey. She likes to build a clear world for herself, the cast and the audience’s perception. She takes time to help her cast truly understand their characters’ relationships and position in the world  they’re creating. Her next step is to build pictures. These pictures aid in establishing stage movement and progression of building moments.

Specifically for this show she got the cast on their feet as soon as possible. They roughly blocked the whole show in the first week. The following rehearsals focused on finding the fluidity of the moments. She loves to build tensions, and articulate the moments to draw the audience in deeper. 

Benjamin's Drawing of The Yellow Boat sailing to the sun

The Show

The Yellow Boat is a glorious affirmation of a child’s life, and the strength and courage of all children, is a dramatization of the true story of David and Sonja Saar’s son, Benjamin, who was born with congenital hemophilia and died in 1987 at the age of eight of AIDS-related complications. A uniquely gifted visual artist, Benjamin’s buoyant imagination transformed his physical and emotional pain into a blaze of colors and shapes in his fanciful drawings and paintings. The title comes from a Scandinavian folk song that Benjamin would say before bed; “Mom, you can be the red boat or the blue boat, but I am the yellow boat.”

Kennedy hopes that the audience feels more creative when leaving their seats. She hopes you see the unconditional parental love, and the imagination of a child.

Join us April 6–8 and 13–15 at the O.L. Halsell Foundation Studio Theatre to see Kennedy’s vision and Benjamin’s story. $15 Tickets for the General Public. Shows are at 7:30 PM Thursday through Saturday, and Saturday matinee at 2:00 PM. 

CLICK HERE for tickets!