When I first moved to Massachusetts in 1994, I had just completed my Master’s Degree in Alabama and a two play stint at Theatre Tuscaloosa, an amazing community theatre. There, I had returned to theatre with a vengeance and was embraced by my directors and fellow actors. There, I was able to look back at my undergraduate college theatre experience and realize it was embedded in sexism. Our theatre department, full of women (probably 60%) never took that into account when choosing plays for the season. One season a male professor actually chose a play to direct about men going to the North Pole with one female part.
So when we decided to settle in Southeastern New England, I set out to find theatre. With no luck. I auditioned at Little Theatre in Fall River for a play I had just done in Alabama, ironically, and didn’t get cast. Neither did my husband. I know how desperate the theater is for good men, so I was immediately suspicious about this “clicky” organization. Not until I directed The Vagina Monologues at UMass Dartmouth, six years later, did I start to meet a theatre community that was welcoming.
I have just finished the rehearsal process for the 20th play I have directed. And it has, quite honestly, been the best directing experience to date. The last play, outside the university, I directed was fraught with issues: few people auditioned who fit the part, an unsupportive theatre management, and the artistic director went behind my back and called audience members to find out why they went to the show and whether they liked it or not.
The cast and crew of The Great God Pan by Amy Herzog are exceptional. It’s like when you teach and have to grade papers. The easiest papers to grade are those with good solid writing. The same goes with directing. When you have strong actors, directing them is easy and fun.
This was a different directing process for me as I was given a cast by the Artistic Director. He is a friend I trust. We have acted together and I have been directed by him. He did a good job. I think everyone is perfectly cast. He also gave me an amazing stage manager who is sassy and smart and a worker bee assistant director who will do anything to help the show move forward.
I can’t say enough about my positive experience at Epic Theatre.
We have a lot of theatre in the smallest state in the union. And in Southeastern Massachusetts there is very little. Two community theatres dominate Fall River and New Bedford, but they are unfortunately, just that: community theatre. They do the same old shows and do not represent the acting talent I have been given during the past month. I hope someday I will have the time and the motivation to start something in Swansea or Seekonk or even Fall River. But for now, I am so thankful for my Rhode Island theatre community who has welcomed me, supported me and kept me coming back for more.
I hope my local blog followers will consider attending the show. It deals with great topics: relationships, abortion, and child abuse. It’s written by a woman (remember less than 20% of plays produced in the U.S. are written by women). It’s a show that will leave you thinking long after you’ve left the theatre. And the acting is great. Fucking great.