Andrea Weston-Smart, a Marketing Coordinator with SCJ, has put her talent into many theatrical productions in the South Sound since re-entering the scene in 2013. She acts with several groups and serves as a board member of the Olympia Little Theatre.
In December 2020 she was invited to step into a new role as director. The project is Goldfinch Productions’ radio adaption of the play Rachel and features an all-Black cast. Written over 100 years ago, Rachel is one of the first plays by a Black American. Oly Arts called the production “monumental – historic – a first for Olympia.”
The Story’s Themes, Past and Present
Named after the main character, the story follows a young Black woman as she comes to see the pervasiveness and impacts of racism. While it would be nearly a century before the term “white privilege” became well-known, the play highlights disadvantages African-Americans face because of the color of their skin. Rachel’s deepened understanding leads her to make a painful decision that she will feel for the rest of her life.
“Unfortunately, we’re still experiencing a lot of the themes this play deals with,” said Andrea. “There’s a character who talks about what’s keeping African-Americans down, including problems at the ballot box. We’re dealing with that to this day,” she said in an interview with The Olympian.
Directing and Production
The original version of the play is nearly three hours long. Part of Andrea’s work was to trim it down to one hour and adapt it for radio. This included doing two Zoom rehearsals with the full cast, along with one-on-ones with each of the five actors.
“On one hand, not having to worry about sets or making sure actors hit their cues made it easier,” said Andrea. “On the other, trying to get them to emote so they didn’t sound like they were reading was a challenge.”
The production process involved each actor recording their lines via Zoom, which the artistic director then combined into the final presentation.
Directing stretched Andrea in new ways, and the experience was very rewarding. “So much in life and work, you feel disregarded because you may not know as much as other people. To have actors deferring to me, and even asking for acting tips, felt pretty good.”