Theatre Wesleyan continues the 2018/19 season with Smokefall by Noah Haidle, beginning Thursday, Feb. 14. Smokefall is directed by senior theatre major Kimberly Owen.
Magical realism collides with manic vaudeville in a family drama unlike anything that audiences have ever seen. Whipping from astonishing tenderness to profound humor and back again, Smokefall explores the lives of a family in a lyrical treatise on the fragility of life and the power of love.
The show will run for seven performances on select dates through Sunday, Feb. 24.
For tickets, cast and crew information, and performance schedule, please visit www.txwes.edu/theatretickets.
Q: How did you pick Smokefall and what made you decide to direct this play?
KO: I read multiple plays and I came across this one that I really enjoyed. I was searching for the element of family; it was something I understood and thought would be a great place to start as a director. I read the first three pages and after I read it, I knew it was my show. I was super interested by the elements of magic and the way that realism and magic play together. I remember reading on the back that the daughter eats paint. I was automatically drawn in and I thought audiences would be too.
Q: Talk about the process working on the show before rehearsal started.
KO: I read this play probably thirty times just trying to get to know the characters. I wanted to know these characters like they were my own family. So if people asked me questions, I could answer them. It was also to understand the conventions of the play and why [the playwright] decided to set it up the way he did. And catching all of the connections between characters was important to me. I looked into the different elements of each character, like what does it mean when someone has Alzheimer's. We talk about it a lot, but what is the manifestation of that. And what does being nine months pregnant with twins mean, biologically. It was helpful for me during the entire process because I knew this show so incredibly well. Even just walking into auditions, it was easy to find people who embodied the elements of the characters I thought were the most important.
Q: How has the rehearsal process been?
KO: The rehearsal process has been a lot more collaborative than I ever imagined it could be. My actors brought stuff from day one, until now before performances. It's a lot of give and take and my job is to help them craft that into something clean. I have really enjoyed laughing with them and having moments in rehearsal where all of us are a little uncomfortable and we can just all laugh it off and continue. When you're dealing with material that's a little bit heavier, I think it's nice to have a light energy in rehearsal. My cast has been absolutely incredible and I always felt that we were way far ahead than we needed to be; it was a nice problem to have.
Q: Why did you want to direct a mainstage show?
KO: I've been doing theatre for nine years and I started off acting. I have always loved the collaborative process of theatre; I love watching the process of how actors and designers collaborate to tell this story. The role of director was something that allowed me to interact with all parties involved and I have learned so much about every element of theatre by directing this piece. I also feel like as a director, if you find the right script, you feel like it's kind of your job to get this story put together and out there, and this play made me want to tell the story.
Q: Did that have anything to do with you deciding on coming to school at Texas Wesleyan?
KO: When I was a prospective student, the first question I asked in my interview was could I direct a mainstage production. And when they said, yes, that was a possibility, that's kind of where my focus has been set for the past four years. But I also believe that this department makes this really manageable because we already work so closely together where, I mean, students can take on lead design positions. So, working along with students and faculty who have been a part of my growth from day one has made the process ten times easier than it would have been had I directed at a theatre I never would have worked at before.
Q: Why should audiences see Smokefall and what do you want them to take away from the show?
KO: I think everybody has family and experiences where I think we have more commonality than we think we do. And something like Smokefall brings people in the same room, and lets them stare at elements of their lives that each and every one of us share. It's just different names and places, but the same situations. The thing that I hope everyone pulls from this show - cast, crew, audiences - is that you can change your family's trajectory. You can change the path in which your family has taken. And loving one another is not easy, but it's gonna make the journey of living a whole lot more enjoyable.
Kimberly Owen is a senior theatre major. Theatre Wesleyan credits include: The School for Scandal (Lady Teazle), When The Rain Stops Falling (Young Elizabeth), Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike (Sonia), Urinetown (Little Sally), Blithe Spirit (Madame Arcati), Spring Awakening (Anna), Oklahoma! (Ellen), and Tartuffe (Dorine). Theatre Wesleyan technical credits include: Metamorphoses (ASM), The 39 Steps (Dramaturg), Clue: The Musical (Stage Manager), Stop Kiss (Props Designer), Important Hats of the Twentieth Century (Assistant Director), and The Hostage (Staging/Choreography). She is the President of Alpha Psi Omega and is a recipient of the Encore Scholarship.
Thursday, Feb. 14 at 7:30 p.m.
Friday, Feb. 15 at 7:30 p.m.
Saturday, Feb. 16 at 7:30 p.m.
Thursday, Feb. 21 at 7:30 p.m.
Friday, Feb. 22 at 7:30 p.m.
Saturday, Feb. 23 at 7:30 p.m.
Sunday, Feb. 24 at 2 p.m. - Matinee Performance
In Person at the Theatre Wesleyan Box Office
Online Theatre Wesleyan Box Office Instructions