Profile: Pioneer senior Leah Gouin finds her perfect role as a director

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Joining a club or group or team in high school can be life changing, for Pioneer senior Leah Gouin, joining the Pioneer Theatre Guild helped decide what she hopes is her life’s work.

“I’m looking to pursue a career in directing,” says Gouin. “Ever since I joined PTG, I knew that the film/theatre industry was something I wanted to be a part of, and I’m really excited to start working towards that goal.”

She recently worked toward that goal this past weekend as one of the directors of Real Life RPG, a PTG’s production of “The Play at Home Project,” a series of eight plays specially developed to be performed virtually during the pandemic. The performances were live streamed last weekend.

Gouin, 17, says the play was “lighthearted” and timely because she believes “everyone needs some laughs during these times.”

“We worked a lot on character development to make the characters lovable – so we hope everyone enjoyed that,” she said. “I hope that everyone found the play as fun to watch as it was to film.”

In Real Life RPG, the audience follows three heroes – Faith, Love & Hope – trying to save the world from evil foes, with a mysterious guide helping them along the way. “A major aspect of this play is the video-game element that it brings, which is my favorite part about it,” Gouin says. “The story is lighthearted and funny by itself, but I think the video-game aspect adds a new level of understanding to the story.”

And thanks in part to the direction from Gouin and co-director Annie Chen, the play went off without a hitch or glitch.

“I was so pleased with the final results of this weekend,” says Gouin. “All of the shows were impressive, and it was amazing to see all of the finished productions.”

She says PTG has always been a family that worked together on every production, and “The Play at Home Project” was no exception. “I’m so proud of everyone who put work into these shows to create something amazing in the pandemic,” she said.

Gouin’s past productions with PTG include Willy Wonka, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, FAME, Matilda, Our Town, along with various student-written productions put on by PTG.

She picked up the directing bug early in her theatrical experiences.

“Honestly, I don’t think there’s anything I didn’t like about it,” she says. “I loved being able to work with so many different people throughout the process – different crews, cast members, stage managers, and of course Annie Chen, my co-director.

“I loved being able to take the script that was given to us and translate it into a visual work of art. Directing an online play was not something I thought I’d ever be doing, but I’m so glad I was given the opportunity to help bring the magic that is theatre to life, even in hard times like these.”

This year has been one of challenges and adjustments and producing a play virtually is not ideal. There’s always technical issues that can get in the way such as internet connection problems. But Gouin, Chen and the rest of the production team were prepared for anything that might log them off along the way.

“I quickly realized throughout this process that producing a play online doesn’t mean the magic of theatre is lost – it’s just a matter of getting a little bit creative and finding new ways to show it,” Gouin said. “Throughout the directing of this play, Annie and I worked hard to structure the production and rehearsals to fit the online format, and we still managed to find ways to make it fun and effective at the same time.”

By Terry Jacoby