Artist of the Issue: James Hovet


Photo: S. Conroy '19

James Hovet ’18 has spent time in the CPAC ever since his arrival on the circle five years ago. Taking a bow after directing his first one-act play has been James’ most memorable Groton theater moment. He has also acted in the productions of “Equus,” “The Laramie Project,” “Twelve Angry Jurors,” and Twelfth Night. James is most proud of his roles as Nugget in “Equus” and Jedediah Schultz, Aaron McKinney, and Russell Henderson in “The Laramie Project.”

At Groton, directing and playwriting have become some of James’ many passions. Last year, he directed “A Streak of Lavender,” a short play written by Mac Galinson ’17. In the past, James has also taken time to do some playwriting himself. In the spring of 2016, James wrote and directed “The Groton Project,” a one-act inspired by the structure of “The Laramie Project.” The show is based on a compilation of interviews with Groton students on their experiences with mental illness.

This winter, James is working on a directing tutorial with Laurie Sales, Groton’s resident theater director, with whom he has been preparing to direct a play called “a gaggle of saints,” written by Neil Labute. Pat Ryan ‘19 and Lyndsey Toce ‘19  will star in James’ interpretation. “It’s going really well,” says James. “We spend a lot of time talking about what it is that makes a play good, and a lot about how to get actors on board and how to direct them in a way that helps them and is not just telling them what to do.”

The actors in shows James directs are complimentary of his directing ability. James is “very good at what he does,” says Lyndsey. “He asks us really thought-provoking questions that force us to dig deep inside ourselves to create a character.”

Aside from acting and directing, James feels passionate about behind-the-scenes work in theater: lighting. Learning to code in second form translated into a fascination with lighting design, which heavily involves computers. During his time at Groton, James has been in charge of lighting for Groton dance shows, one acts, and plays. This spring, he will be the lighting designer for the mainstage production of “The Women of Lockerbie.”

“In Second Form, there were one acts going on and I was just in the building when it was happening and thought ‘Oh, that’s cool, I might as well try my hand at that,’ and so I lit a one act that starred a young Julien Alam [‘19],” James says of his initial encounter with lighting. This one-act had eight lighting cues that James was adamant about doing perfectly. After that, he was hooked.

James says that lighting is “an art…the real job of a lighting designer is to help the director tell the story that they want to tell… [which] takes a deep understanding of the play and of the emotion and of the meaning behind it.” He says that a successful lighting designer “understands the human psyche.”

James’ passion for all aspects of theater including acting, directing, tech, and lighting is apparent in his work. Laurie says, “I often notice when he is acting that he looks at the whole production, thinking about what I am doing, what the lighting designer is doing, what the technical team is doing and then some.  He asks questions constantly and has been entirely proactive about his learning in the theater.”

“All of these skills are serving James as he studies directing,” she says about his many different projects involving Groton theater, adding that James’ “passion for theatre is holistic.”

James credits his experience to Laurie and her husband Brandt Belknap. “I didn’t do much of it beforehand, so it was all Laurie and Brandt getting me interested and pointing me in the right direction,” he says.

James advises younger students who want to get involved with Groton theater to “take every single opportunity [they] can get… Brandt wants you to try as many things as you want to try, and so you should just ask. He will help you out.”