Director's Note with Ashley Galan

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The Lamar University Department of Theatre and Dance will present The Book Club Play, directed by student Ashley Galan. In this first production of the Fall 2021 semester, loads of laughter and literature collide Ashley Galanin this smart hit comedy about books and the people who love them. Director Ashley Galan took time to share her thoughts on the process and what we can expect from The Book Club Play.

What can we - the audience - expect from "The Book Club Play"? 

The audience can expect laughs, juicy drama and heated debate! The play centers around Ana - a Type A personality who lives in a letter-perfect world with an adoring husband and the perfect job - and her greatest passion: Book Club. But when her cherished group becomes the focus of a documentary film, their intimate discussions about life and literature take a hilarious turn in front of the inescapable eye of the camera lens. Add a provocative new member along with some surprising new book titles, and these six friends are bound for pandemonium. Sprinkled with fun theatrical references to documentaries and novels galore from Moby Dick and Age of Innocence to Twilight and The Da Vinci Code, this buoyant comedy on contemporary culture will have everyone laughing … and reflecting.  The Book Club Play is a delightful new play about life, love, literature and the side-splitting results when friends start reading between the lines. 

As a student director, what has been the most challenging aspect(s) of this process for you? 

The most challenging aspect of my process was making the show as physically active as the language and conversation is. The show can easily lend itself to have the characters sitting and talking for the whole duration of the show. The challenge is getting the actors up on their feet and interacting in a natural and intentional way. The actors have been great at making this a collaborative effort through the choices they make which inspire new ideas.  

Another, more personal, challenging aspect has been not letting the show consume all my time and attention. As a student, I still need to manage my classes, work, personal life, Alpha Psi Omega officer duties and being a McNair scholar. Since The Book Club Play is the project I work on every day, it’s easy to get sucked into it and disregard all my other responsibilities. Dividing my time and attention into several different places has been quite difficult but 100% worth it.  

How has your time in the LU Department of Theatre & Dance influenced your vision and prepared you for this process? 

I have experienced multiple rehearsal processes here as an actor and stage manager with different directors. My biggest take away from a process that I’ve experienced comes from working with Alan Brincks in Twelfth Night. Alan posed questions that spurred open dialogue with us actors about our characters, their relationships, and ultimately their intentions and motives in each passing moment. Incorporating this into my own process has allowed for the development of depth and layers to the characters in The Book Club Play. Another aspect I learned from Alan was a counterbalance between giving notes on things to improve upon and giving positive reinforcement when a choice that we liked was made. This, I feel, allows the actors to feel encouraged to continue making new choices rather than lost or discouraged by constructive notes. The directing courses I have taken here have also allowed me to tap into the inner workings of a director’s brain and all the work that a director does on their own time to be prepared when they come into the rehearsal process. 

Speaking of your previous work at LU as an actor and stage manager, how has this process differed from those of the past beyond the work itself? 

My directing process differs from the other work I’ve previously done in that I get to partake in all the aspects of the show. My passion is acting, but I naturally think of all the moving parts to a show and how they all come together to make a beautiful work of art. Directing has allowed me to be in the decision-making room and even brainstorm with my designers on how to enhance the show through lights, set, sound, costumes and props. Ultimately, it has allowed for my creativity to be heard in all aspects and to apply what I have learned in those areas here at Lamar.  

The last word is yours. Is there anything you would like to say to interested parties, the cast and crew, the Lamar community etc...? 

To interested parties, I want to stress to everyone to not stress about the literature in the show. You do not need to have read the books to follow the storyline. The story is driven by the complex and fun people that love and discuss those books. My hope is that people leave the theatre having connected to the characters and feeling inspired to live life to the fullest...and maybe even read some of the mentioned books. I invite you to come join Book Club and enjoy the highs and lows of friendships and literature with a nice glass of wine on the side. 

To my cast: thank you so much for being a part of my show and helping bring this play to life with me! I enjoyed our laughs and discoveries in the rehearsal room and the green room. I hope you did too. Your chemistry as an ensemble is unlike any I’ve ever experienced, and words cannot express how grateful I am to have worked with you specifically on this process. You and this show will always have a special place in my heart. 

To the crew: thank you so much for all your hard work! It’s easy for the crew to be forgotten as you’re meant to not be seen and heard, but I see you and appreciate all your efforts backstage to make this show successful onstage. 

Tickets are on sale now for The Book Club Play. They range in price from $7-$15 and are available at