Ele (Helen) Hagermoser, 17, of Hinsdale, will start her senior year at Hinsdale Central High School with credits in more than 20 theatrical productions at the high school and other programs. She received the Christine Hicks Theatre Leadership Award, named for the school’s longtime drama director, this spring and recently directed “Steel Magnolias” at the Oakbrook Terrace Park District’s Mario Parente Theater.
Q. How have you been involved with Central’s Drama Club productions?
A. I’ve done assistant directing and set building. I’ve been propmaster and I’ve done a lot of acting. I have a leading role in the September show, “The Odd Couple.” I play the female Oscar.
Q. How did the opportunity to direct Steel Magnolias in Oakbrook Terrace come about?
A. One of my friends said, “you should check out this theatre.”
Q. And you were able to rent it and be in charge of the production, including choosing which play to do?
A. Yes. It is kind of scary. Usually, I have someone to lean back on. I picked “Steel Magnolias.” I like it, in part, because it’s an all female cast, and it’s a real funny and touching show. I saw it performed at a theater camp in New York.
Q. Who were the actors in your production?
A. Mostly high school students from Central’s Drama Club. I did casting two weeks before the end of school. We had only two weeks of rehearsals. Some of my cast had never had a lead role before.
Q. That was taking a chance.
A. I was a newbie and wanted to work with other newbies. It was frightening, but it worked out really well. Truly, I didn’t get that stressed out.
Q. How did it feel to be directing people your own age?
A. You want to be someone your cast can trust and be friends with, but somebody they can respect, too, and take direction from. It’s very hard to keep that balance. Sometimes I would nudge them along to a more correct direction, but I want most of the base of the performance to come from the actors themselves. I believe everyone should have their own artistic input into the show, the artists on the stage and the artists off stage, the people doing the art design, lighting and sound.
Q. You also participated in theater programs in New York. Tell me about that.
A. Last summer, I took classes at Stagedoor Manor Performing Arts Training Center. I went to French Woods Festival of the Performing Arts for two summers. I would suggest it to anyone. If you can, get out to New York. You get to see your competition of the future. Stage Door Manor was really amazing. I got to work with kids who are professionals at the age of 16 or 17.
Q. What did you learn from those experiences?
A. I realized I want to go into directing. I didn’t have the same perspective or mindset as the people who want to be performers. I prefer to see the whole picture. I care about the collaborative work and the rehearsal process. I would like to work with these people and help them get where they want to go.
Q. What do you have in mind after you graduate high school?
A. I’m hoping to pursue theater with a concentration on directing or theater education.
Q. Do you have other interests?
A. Most of my time is spent with theater and school. I’m an all honors student. But one of my friends and I are going to learn and join a roller derby team.Tags: Hinsdale Central