Morgan Tate, left, directs Kathleen Chavey-Reynaud, Lori Ludeman and Jesse Tissel in two one-act plays at The Merc. Photo by Ann McCreary

Morgan Tate, left, directs Kathleen Chavey-Reynaud, Lori Ludeman and Jesse Tissel in two one-act plays at The Merc. Photo by Ann McCreary

By Ann McCreary

High school senior Morgan Tate, who directs a Readers’ Theater production at The Merc Playhouse this weekend, says her discovery of live theater two years ago was a life-changing event.

Invited to join the cast of The Music Man in the summer of 2012, Tate said she initially turned it down. “I was really uncomfortable, very shy, and had low self-esteem,” Tate recalled in an interview last week.

She eventually was persuaded to give it a try, and has been involved in five local theater productions since then.

“It opened up this entire outlet I didn’t know existed. It ended up changing my life. I made new friends. It increased my confidence, gave me better self-esteem. I discovered I could be whatever I wanted,” she said.

Tate is exploring a new realm of theater by directing three local high school students in a Readers’ Theater production on Friday and Saturday (Jan. 17 and 18) at The Merc. The productions are part of her senior project.

“I wanted to do this project because I love theater, and wanted to take it a step further, from being an actor to being a director,” said Tate, who is taking classes through Running Start at Wenatchee Valley College.

She will direct two one-act plays featuring senior Kathleen Chavey-Reynaud, junior Lori Ludeman, and freshman Jesse Tissell. The contemporary comedies by David Ives, called Sure Thing and Arabian Nights, are “short, concise, funny and creative,” Tate said.

“They both center around communication and miscommunication,” Tate said. “How you say something, the word choice you use, an inflection — can come across completely different than the way its meant.”

Each play shows how communication can go awry, Tate said. “They’re really fun pieces.”

Tate said she was a bit nervous about directing. “I’m not exactly demanding. I was worried I wouldn’t be as assertive as I need to be,” she said. “I’ve never really had to tell people to do what I want them to do. It opens up other fields I could go into as a leader.”

Directing performers in a readers theater presents some unique challenges, she said. “You’re acting with your voice, to make up for the lack of props and costumes and sets,” she said. “It’s a lot more auditory.”

As part of her senior project, Tate will survey audience members at the end of the performances and write a paper that explores, among other things, how communication differs between genders. Tate’s mentor for her senior project is Jane Orme, who retired last year from teaching English and drama at Liberty Bell High School.

Tate plans to attend University of Hawaii in Hilo next fall, and wants to major in a science field. “I don’t want drama to be a profession, but I want it to be a hobby,” she said.

The shows start at 7 p.m. and admission is by donation. For more information call 997-7529.