Teen thespian takes on role of assistant director

Hinsdale's Haven Marginean finds fulfillment in theater work whether on stage or backstage.

"As an actor you're more in charge of your character, and as a director you're more in charge of the story," said the Hinsdale Central junior.

Marginean's stage of choice is the Theatre of Western Springs, where she is currently serving as assistant director of the production of "Witch," with final performances this weekend (see Page 26 for details).

Her memory suggests she's been part of the TWS community since fourth grade, citing a summer production of the "The Aristocats" as among her first castings.

"I was like a cat and a dog," she said, a sign of her versatility.

Over the years Marginean has come to appreciate the camaraderie and personal expression that the stage affords.

"All the people here are great," she remarked. "I really enjoy acting and sort of always have. It's fun to dig into characters. It's like dress up, but more professional."

As a member of TWS' High School Repertory, Marginean said she's watched peers take turns in the director's chair.

"We always have a senior or a junior direct the HSR spring show," she said. "That got me interested. It is nice to be the one who's sort of in charge."

"Witch" is an audience-pleaser, Marginean asserted, following a cunning devil who meets his match in a loner who is immune to his charm. She said a theme of personal stagnation runs through the story, the devil included.

"Even he is sort of stuck in this job that he has to work through and interact with people through," she said.

Laughs, however, come in a steady stream.

"It's a really fun show, and the actors make it really funny," she said. "The cast is just so incredible."

Being an assistant director requires her to provide feedback to the cast.

"Through the rehearsal process, I have been able to give notes (to actors) which has been really good in helping me get better at giving notes," Marginean said.

The job also allows her to watch the show fully, unlike backstage crew jobs, and discern tweaks to scenes from show to show. Audience members' attention to the subtleties is always validating.

"When people pick up on the little things, it's always gratifying, especially to the actors who put in so much work in making those choices, to have that be recognized," she said.

Next month Marginean will step back into an acting role in HSR's production of "The Laramie Project." Rehearsals already have started, and Marginean said juggling two shows at once is a challenge she enjoys.

"It has been an increased time commitment. But I like being here," she said.

Marginean has learned that whether a role is fictional or based on a real person, relatability is vital.

"It's not just about delivering the lines," she said. "It is about the characters and the story, and once you start focusing on that it brings realism to the performance because you think of the characters as real people."

Might Marginean one day work in professional theater?

"I think I would enjoy a career in it."

- story by Ken Knutson, photo by Jim Slonoff