Where Are They Now? It's Opening Night in Dallas for EMILY FAITH and Lily & Joan Theater Company
Celebrating an opening night is always exciting, if exhausting, nerve-wracking and exhilarating, but when it's the very first production of a new theater company you've co-founded, odds are it's even more so. Just ask Emily Faith who is directing the premiere production of A Midsummer Night's Dream for the Dallas-based Lily & Joan theater company she co-founded in 2018 with Erika Larsen.
And when audiences witness the first night of the weeklong run of A Midsummer Night's Dream, they are likely to see a dazzling production that is at least in part inspired by Faith's years going to school at Lipscomb University in Nashville.
editor's note: Coincidentally, A Midsummer Night's Dream opens four years to the day that Picnic, presented by Circle Players in 2015 and which was stage managed by Emily Faith (and which I directed), opened.
Yesterday, we had a chance to talk to Emily Faith about her new production, her new theater company and her new life in Dallas for our latest installment of Where Are They Now? Read all about it and join us in sending warm first night wishes to Emily and her cast and crew, along with heartfelt expressions of "break a leg":
Where are you now and what's keeping you busy? I am living in Dallas, Texas! I feel almost full circle being here as so many of my professors at Lipscomb were Texans. I started grad school at Lesley University last fall and I am pursuing a Masters in drama therapy. They have this amazing and convenient low-residency program where I attend a virtual classroom throughout the year and spend a month out of the summer in Boston in the actual classroom. I also co-founded a theatre company, Lily & Joan Theatre Company this last fall so my hands have been on the fuller side. And then I teach theatre. I love teaching. I work for the Dallas Children's Theatre and AT&T Performing Arts Center as a teaching artist and I have a dog named Bingley. All of those things keep my days nice and plump.
What led you to establish your own theater company? This is also kind of a Nashville moment. I have always been interested in the careers of Beki Baker and Denice Hicks. They never have appeared to limit their artistry or their exceptionalism and I wanted that for myself. And transparently, I was kind of bored with not taking myself more seriously in this field. So, my co-founder, Erika Larsen and I came together last summer and really laid out what we felt like we brought to the table as collaborators and what needs that we wanted to meet within the DFW community. You could say that at least on my side, Lily & Joan was born out of inspiration and a splash of indignation.
Tell me about your production of A Midsummer Night's Dream and what sets it apart from others we might have seen? Lily & Joan was set on having our first production highlight an all-female, trans and gender non-conforming cast. We wanted to celebrate voices that our provided less opportunities in the community and empower other companies to do the same. We also have made the choice to double most of our characters, really digging into what qualities connect us as humans. And being very on-trend, this production is an adaptation, running about 95 minutes long with no intermission. It is fast, it is funny as hell and being an all Pay-What-You-Want run, it is intentionally inclusive.
How do you think you've changed the most, for better or worse, since leaving Nashville? I lived in Nashville for five years and I look back with a lot of grace and fondness for who I was when I there. I have changed the most in how I have redirected my independence for good, which I think is just a byproduct of growing up. My passion has become active. Instead of waiting for someone to create change, I decided to fling myself into the arena. But being in the Nashville community really laid the foundation for fearlessness and I am forever grateful to it.
What brought you here in the first place? I was attending Lipscomb University, and received my BFA in Acting.
What are some of your most vivid memories of your time in Nashville? The first thing that comes to mind is working with CJ Tucker at Actor's Bridge Ensemble on a production of 100 Saints You Should Know. Acting for her really shifted my perspective on what artistic collaboration looks like and how to create an empowering rehearsal process. I also was able to act with Robyn Berg during that production who had been my professor at Lipscomb and that was a really special moment for me.
What does the future hold for you and Lily & Joan? Time will tell! I am most excited to see how the company and my drama therapy experience will unfold together. Lily & Joan is working on setting our second season and now that we have our non-profit status, we feel more confident in the programming that we will be able to bring to the community.
Where do you hope to find yourself in five years? I know that wherever I will be, I will bring my curiosity, my compassion and hopefully a sense of humor.