An Interview with Director Christian Gifford
By: Sarah Jenson
Below you will find the transcript of an in-person interview with Director Christian Gifford, who is putting on the upcoming show Drinking Habits.
S: Thank you for joining me today Christian. Joining me today is Christian Gifford he is the director of the next student show on campus, Christian could you tell us a little bit about yourself.
C: My name is Christian Gifford I am a History Education and Theater major here and I am from Minot, North Dakota. I’ve been doing theater for well over a decade.
S: So to start off with, can you give me a little bit of a brief synopsis of what your show is about?
C: So Drinking Habits is a story of a convent of nuns struggling to make ends meet and a few of the nuns decide to start making wine without telling Mother Superior and antics ensue as people try to figure out who’s making this wine, who told who, and who is who.
S: What made you decide to do Drinking Habits?
C: Well to be honest when I was looking for a show to direct, I looked at Drinking Habits about four different times and said “nah, nah, nah, that show looks stupid.” And then I finally decided to actually pick up the script and read it, and I found myself laughing out loud, unlike what I had been doing with the previous shows. I looked at if the script itself was that funny and I couldn’t wait to see it on a stage. I immediately emailed Mike (McIntyre) and said “this is what I wanna do.”
S: How have you enjoyed working with the cast so far?
C: Honestly it’s been a joy a lot of them have been very receptive to feedback and they came into it with their own ideas of characters and I honestly loved seeing them develop these characters and bring them to life in ways that either I didn’t imagine or it’s way past my expectations of how funny some of these lines can be.
S: Is this your first time directing a show? And if so/not how does it feel directing your own show that you picked?
C: This is my first show I’ve ever directed, and honestly, it’s kind of exhilarating. It’s definitely stressful just to make sure I have everything ready on time but it’s a rush getting to see my vision take place on stage rather than being on stage. Being part of the vision, it’s a whole different feel than I’m used to.
S: Kind of falling into that, is this what you kind of signed up for? Is it more than you thought it would be? Or is it kind of just the amount of work that you expected?
C: Honestly, because I worked so closely with Stephanie (Jorritsma) last year on Lost Girl, I had a very good idea of what I was getting into because, I think because of how close we worked. As the scene designer for that show, I had to know what the schedule was, I had to know all these types of things so I was usually one of the first people told when there was a change. And so I kind of knew that I would have to be very flexible and work around actor schedules, and learn how to block correctly, and all this kind of stuff. But I felt very prepared going into it.
S: Have there been any complications that you found when it comes to directing, or anything like hurdles you see yourself working to get past as a director?
C: I think the biggest hurdle is that this is some of the actors are some of their first times on stage, so I think probably the biggest hurdle is getting them to the same level I’m expecting everyone else. And so far they’re taking it with stride and they’re doing a fantastic job. I’m seeing a lot of the same energy they’re putting in as the other actors and it makes me so proud to know that they are taking it as seriously as I am.
S: Some people have maybe expressed concern that because it is a comedy involving nuns that Christianity and the nuns themselves are the “butt of the joke.” So what would you say to help calm those thoughts regarding the content of the show?
C: So, kind of to work with that concern, I had that at first (as well) when I was looking at the script, but overall Christianity is not the butt of any jokes. It’s really just there as a plot device and it’s hard to describe it’s like-
S: –Just because it is a comedic farce with nuns does not mean they are the joke, it just happens to take place in a convent is what you’re saying.
C: Yes! And, well, truthfully for years nuns have been a popular thing in farces, and other things. Like, look at the movie “Sister Act” with Whoopi Goldberg! But this one happens to take place at a convent and overall there isn’t really any poking fun at Christianity. And honestly, I feel that the most problematic part of the show is that people are getting too happy getting drunk off of nun-made wine.
S: What would you say would be your pitch for the show to someone that you don’t know or isn’t involved in theater in any way on campus?
C: So you like nuns? What about wine put those things together? That’s a recipe for chaos.
S: What maturity rating would you give the show could a faculty or community member bring their children?
C: (I would) say, probably, they could. Because of the drinking that happens in it and the alcohol involved. Though there is no actual alcohol involved, of course, I would probably put it in a PG-13, between PG and PG-13, and only for that reason. There’s no real swearing, there’s no innuendos, it is just this wonderful story of nuns making wine.
Drinking Habits will be performed February 9th, 10th, and 11th and 7:30 pm, all students and faculty get in for free! Tickets can be reserved:
- Online: Reiland Box Office – University of Jamestown (uj.edu)
- Email: email@example.com
- Phone: (701) 252-3467 ext. 5435.
- Reiland Box Office: Located in the Reiland Fine Arts Building, near music faculty offices.