This is your first time directing Sheherezade. What went into your decision to direct for us?
It was not a difficult choice. The culture of Wily West is one of artistic freedom for a director. They are very supportive on taking risks and experimenting, as well as investigating traditional approaches. The administrative and artistic team at Wiley West are top notch and I am learning so very much observing and working with them. They have a tried and true methodology for the 10 minute play festival of Sheherazade. Laylah and Quinn and Wes and Morgan and Ellen and Chelsy and Jennifer rule.
As it turns out, it’s been a joy working with the production team to enhance the worlds of each play, as well. Chelsey Little, our stage manager extrordinaire, is fearless and amazing. I should mention that working with Amanda Ortmeyer, who is a fabulous teacher, and the staff at the Exit is a privilege as well.
Plus, the imaginative plays were too compelling to not want to go along for the ride.
Which plays are you directing?
Madeline Pucconi’s The Interview, James Norrena’s Reframing Rockwell, Terry Anderson’s Dissonance, and Jennifer Robert’s Photo Dynamic Therapy. All different styles, all different worlds, the same great acting ensemble.
What approach are you taking?
The casting is great, the plays are great, so after establishing vocabulary and an ideal space for creativity and ensemble building, I watch the actors solve the challenges, while still keeping an outside eye on what is true for the individual plays and characters—making it clearer for ourselves and the audience. Physical approach on some the pieces—Overlie’s Viewpoints—is a vehicle. We are learning from each other, by being open to the challenges and shifts of each rehearsal. Collaboration rules. I am certainly pulling out all of the lessons I’ve learned from my directing teachers. Mark Rucker, Jonathan Moscone, Tony Taccone, Tim and Buck Busfield, and Richard ET White.
An emerging theme between these plays that has really jumped out at us is reality and perception. Tell us about an experience that you thought had been one thing only to discover it was completely different.
I’m having new experiences with the opportunity of working with playwrights in the room at all rehearsals. I had to get out of my own comfort zone, and have found that it’s an artistic boon for the work, as well as a blast. The conceptual nets that hold the worlds of the play are so much stronger with the collaborations, and the reality that each collaboration with each playwright is different makes it especially fun. Best of all, I’m finding that I get to grow personally through the work of collaboration. It’s been a tremendously freeing experience.
As far as expectations of the plays themselves, what I’m discovering is how much deeper the themes and the dialectics of the themes of the particular plays I am working on are. The psychological human truths are there in all of the imaginative scripts. I am truly grateful to be a part of this collaborative team.
Are there other themes that you are seeing as you head into rehearsals?
Love as War/Peacemaker, Love as Muse/Vampiric Artist, Love as Freedom/Prison, Love as Healer/Agent of pain. Love as Protest/Surrender. Love in all of it’s fluidity and dynamics.
What other projects are you working on? What can audiences of Sheherezade look forward to next?
Right now I’m also directing a 20 minute play for the Fringe of Marin by Bridgette Dutta Portman, Jinshin Jiko, a ghost story that takes place in a Tokyo metro train car, with a cast of actors from all over the Bay Area that includes Sheila Dewitt of Theatre Yugen, Sam Tillis of Shotgun Players, Vonn Scott Bair of Playwrights Center of SF, RJ Castaneda of Theatreworks, and newcomer to the independent theatre scene, Chelsea Zephyr.