By Dr. Pamela Washington
In both of the previous posts about “A Flea in Her Ear,” I’ve talked about the physical comedy of farce, but I haven’t introduced the two people who are bring the frantic physical activity to life. This post is a mini-interview with the two women who are sharing the directing duties.
Our director, Ms. Daisy Folsom is a Full Professor in the University of Central Oklahoma’s Theatre Arts Department. In action, Daisy is a quiet force to be reckoned with and is a bit like a feather-covered brick wall—lovely and fun, effervescent, but solid and steadfast underneath.
What is your philosophy of directing?
“My philosophy is to always listen to others, take suggestions, encourage and support everyone involved with the production, and strive to maintain an up-beat, positive attitude. I’ve been influenced by working as an actor under Gail Smith a professor at Eastern New Mexico University. She was a dance teacher and used the choreography of the dance to block the works she directed.”
What guided you as you selected the cast for “Flea”?
“Greg Leaming, whose adaptation of the play we are using, provided an in-depth description of each character. I found myself thinking about the characters as he conceived of them as actors auditioned. His work was very helpful.”
How do you balance between being a professor and being a director?
“I believe that directing in an educational setting is similar to having a science lab. As a professor, I teach technique. In rehearsal, students apply what they learned in class. However, rehearsals require I continue teaching in an effort to help students bring their characters to life.”
What is your collaboration with Alyssa like? How do you work as a team?
“We problem solve—she re-stages when necessary, and she takes notes for actors during rehearsal. Although she is a student, as the Assistant Director, I consider her a colleague. Often times, she catches mistakes I do not see. I am grateful for her advice and support.”
What is the one thing you would like the audience to know about you?
“I worked as an actor in Hollywood for several years and had the privilege to work with director Christopher Coppola, Nicholas Cage’s brother, in the film ‘The Clockmaker.’ We filmed in Romania, and it was a great adventure!”
Make a prediction—which moment in “Flea’ will get the biggest laugh?
“There are so many humorous moments—it’s hard to pick! I’d hate to give away any of the surprises, so I’m not answering this one!!
Our Assistant Director, Ms. Alyssa Moon is a sophomore Theatre Arts major. She says that she didn’t originally want to be a director. “Last year, my freshman year, I came in as a Theatre Education student,” states Allysa. “Through the year I felt horribly unmotivated and could tell that my heart was not in what I was doing. After a lot of discussion with my professors, I has changed my major to Performance, and now I dream of going to grad school to get my MFA in Directing.”
What are your responsibilities as the Assistant Director on “Flea”?
“I don’t have any one job as Assistant Director—I get a taste of different parts of what it takes to direct. I currently take notes with Daisy during rehearsal and I was given the opportunity to re-block a section of Act 2 which I am absolutely thrilled about!”
How are you balancing also being an actor in the play? (Alyssa also plays the part of Antoinette)
“It is difficult also being an actor I had to speak to Daisy about how to handle this because I was unsure of how to balance the two. After speaking, we both came to the conclusion that in the parts of the show I am in, I would be strictly an actor, and I could be assistant direct the other parts of the show. I usually work on my character outside of rehearsal and focus on being the Assistant Director inside of rehearsal.”
How is the production of “Flea” different from what you thought it would be when you read the script?
“This script is insane. When I first read it, I couldn’t keep up with the traffic patterns of every character for each act because they were constantly going into and out of multiple rooms in each set. I was even more scared when we started blocking in rehearsal that the actors would get overwhelmed, but Daisy did a fantastic job of breaking down each page and explaining in depth to each person where their character is to go and when.”
What has been a pleasant surprise in your role as Assistant Director?
“I never thought I would be as involved as I am now. Daisy has given me an experience that I could never replace. She has thrown me in full force.
Make a prediction—which moment in “Flea” will get the biggest laugh?
“I find that with each new day and each rehearsal we find different moments of the show that are our biggest hits of the night! That’s the trill of getting to work on a farce, even if you know the script by heart, you never know what’s going to knock you out of your chair in a fit of laughter and hysteria.”