Press Officer Musa H tells us about his experience as a first-time playwright and director.

Last term I experienced a great moment that I would never forget: writing and directing a play, into which I put my blood, sweat and tears. Finally, ‘El Nacho Grande’ was hitting the big stage.

It was during the Christmas holidays that I had a sudden revelation of putting my work out there for all to see. In the past I had written various short skits and whatnot, but this was completely different. This wasn’t just short, quick humour; this was a high quality piece that delved into another world and worked on developing character arcs, one of the most significant being that of main character ‘Baby’. The role was brilliantly portrayed on the night by Luke T, and here’s what he had to say about his experience:

“No, not everyone can act. To inhabit this mesmerising role I had to completely embody the character even outside rehearsals.”

The play took me about a year to write, including the moments of genius I would come across at any time. Said moments just occurred out of the blue, randomly popping into my mind. I’d be lying in bed on the brink of sleep, when suddenly this incredible idea hit me like a ton of bricks. Then I had no choice but to spring up and start adding it to the script before it escaped my thoughts.

After completing the final draft, it was time to put my judgement to the test with my casting. My boarding House’s acting is through the roof with talent.

During auditions, I think I came across one of the best actors I’ll ever see perform, in William H. What a natural. Immediately, my head was filled with him embodying the lead of ‘Nacho’.  

Envisioning many possible performances down the line was amazing, as it was in this moment that I fully appreciated the joy of theatre. After the entire process was completely done, including callbacks, I took a week to come up with a final cast list that I was satisfied with.

The rehearsals were when things started to get rough. Normally I adopt a very firm approach of ‘when the going gets tough the tough get going’ but I must admit the process commenced in quite a rocky fashion!

I had never led a group of people so large in theatre before, and surrounded with such personalities, I simply didn’t know where to start. It took a long while to organise the rehearsal schedule, and even then communicating with the actors was tricky with them all rushing off to various lectures and other commitments.

We practiced each scene until we felt as though we could do no more, but the big day wasn’t far away and I still knew we could improve, so I stayed up late thinking about stage directions and choreography.

Finally, the day of the performance came and nerves were everywhere. Being too busy organising everything, I realised I had forgotten my lines for the short cameo I had in Act Three! More nerves. As parents and members of the audience filed in to the seating area, I gave my final pep talk to the cast.

They had all done so well to make it this far already, so I told them ‘go out there and do what you know you can do. Be the best you can be and show everyone why you deserve to be here.’

Before I knew it, it was over in the blink of an eye. All that hard preparation and toil for 40 minutes of glory. Had it been worth it? Absolutely.

I cherished each moment I had working on the play. I couldn’t help but feel overjoyed with my accomplishment. I plan to explore playwrighting as a career, and am thankful that I had the chance to direct such a brilliant cast, in a supportive atmosphere, for my first go!