BWW Interviews: Jacey Little Talks Directing DOLLFACE for Mildred's Umbrella
Mildred's Umbrella Theatre Company concludes their 2015-2016 season with the world premiere of DOLLFACE, a modern retelling of the myth of Medusa, written by Katharine Sherman. Sherman is no stranger when it comes to teaming up with Mildred's Umbrella to create work that promotes the empowerment of female artists; her previous work, CASSANDRA, was produced with Mildred's in the spring of 2014.
Of the various versions of Medusa available in literature, DOLLFACE is inspired by the version told by the Roman poet Ovid, who depicted Medusa as an enchantingly beautiful woman, one of Athena's priestesses. Captivated by her beauty, Poseidon forced himself on her, savagely raping Medusa in Athena's temple. Enraged at the depravity inside her own sacred dwelling, Athena directs her wrath at the anguished Medusa, whose hair is transformed into writhing serpents and her face cursed to be so hideous that anyone who looks upon it will be turned to stone.
I had the opportunity to interview Jacey Little, the director of DOLLFACE and the Artistic Director of Horse Head Theatre, to ask her about the process of bringing DOLLFACE to life.
"My passion is new play development," says Little, who started work on DOLLFACE as Sherman's dramaturg, assisting Sherman with the structure of the play and tracking the effective use of its conventions, such as the Greek chorus. "My goal was to understand the story Katharine [Sherman] wanted to tell, the devices and conventions she wanted to use to tell it, and then assist her with that execution as a text."
"In the early stages, Katharine knew she wanted to tell a story about modern rape culture," Little says. "[DOLLFACE] was inspired by the egregious responses and circumstances of numerous, highly publicized rape cases," such as the rape of Audie Potts, Jessica Gonzales, and the rape case involving students from Steubenville High - to name a few. "The Medusa mythology was discovered as a lens with which to present this modern story," says Little.
Little understands that, on the surface, the subject may be "off-putting," but she is not deterred. "I'm very aware of rape culture's presence in my daily life, from childhood to present." Little assures that this show is not a diatribe, that its purpose is not to attack or shame men in any way. "DOLLFACE presents a well-balanced narrative that is intended to inspire an open dialogue about a pervasive issue: the existence of rape culture."
Although Sherman and Little have been collaborating on the project for nearly a year, Little says she's currently in "director-mode," and the strong dramaturgical foundation they have built enables her to make informed, directorial decisions that are "uniquely in-tune" with Katharine's vision.
"Katharine writes in a way that is open to interpretation," Little shares. "Her pages look like poetry with very little punctuation and stage directions." Directing has been a challenge, she says, but the possibilities open in staging the play are endless.
DOLLFACE runs April 28 - 30, May 5 - 7, and May 12 - 14 at 8:00 pm (Matinee on May 8 at 3:00 pm) at Studio 101 at Spring Street Studios, 1824 Spring Street, 77007. Tickets are $20 General Admission, $15 for Students/Seniors, and Group Rate is $10. Pay-What-You-Can night is May 9. Tickets are on sale now at www.mildredsumbrella.com. For more information, please call (832) 418-0973 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
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From This Author Mai Le