A Doll’s House: Cast & Crew Interviews

Grace Lester, Reporter

Show dates are Thursday-Saturday, Oct. 15-17 at 7 p.m. There is also a matinee Saturday at 2 p.m. Students get a free ticket to one of the four performances. There are only 100 seats available per performance. Public tickets are $7. Reserve yours today at www.darlingtonschool.org/fallplay.

Palesa – Cast as “Nora”

What are you most excited for the audience to get from the play?

“This role, Nora, is one of the hardest roles in the theater world. I am honored and excited to make Nora my own. Ibsen’s material is very complex and thought-provoking. I am also excited for the audience to see the set because the set this year is very abstract  Mrs. Daniel is attempting a “concept set,” it’s a giant metaphor and I’m excited to get to perform on it.”

What is your favorite characteristic of your character?

“One of my favorite things about Nora is her constant struggle with defining herself. I think Nora’s struggle is one that we all face in some way. Within this struggle, however, Nora is a great actress; her life is one big performance. Playing this part of her journey is as fun as is her transformation later in the play.”

Why would you recommend people to see this play?

“One, because Darlington Theater is awesome and the best actors in the school are in it. Two, because I memorized 61 pages, and you’re going to come, you’re going to listen to them, and you might even cry! Three, we put a lot of hard work into it. It’s a really difficult project and we’re proud of it. So, if you want to come and watch a good play from English, then this is where to come!”

Are you anything like your character? How?

“Yes. I’m a lot like Nora in the sense that I often pretend it is okay when it’s really not. It’s a coping mechanism. Nora often tries to suppress reality by being happy and trying to spread light to everyone…but she is still in the dark.”

What hollywood celebrity do you think would best portray this character?

“Well I can’t say me because I’m not there yet. Maybe Zoe Saldana, Kerry Washington, Nicole Kidman, or maybe Anne Hathaway.”

Anything else you’d like to add?

“I’d like to give a huge thanks Mrs. Daniel. She put a lot of work in the theater and this show and the set and everything is so impressive. She is giving us something we’ve never had before. She has pushed me as an actress in so many different ways that I have never been pushed before, so I think that the show is going to be phenomenal!”

Savannah Sands – Stage Manager (Prompter/behind the scenes)

What is your job?

“I assist the assistant director and the director. I am also in charge of knowing what’s happening on stage at all times and, right now, I am sorting through props and costumes. I am seeing what we can use and we’re starting to build the set and trying to see how it’s gonna come together.”

What is the hardest part of your job?

“The hardest part is just predicting what I need to do before I need do it because that’s what Mrs. Daniels says is a good quality in a stage manager or assistant director, to anticipate what I can do to make everything go smoothly.”

What is your favorite part of your job?

“I just really like looking behind the scenes of the production and helping out with that. I’m just really glad to be a part of A Doll’s House.”

Anything else you’d like to add?

“I think Mrs. Daniel is bringing a lot to the theater here at Darlington ‘cause she’s taking it seriously. We’re really gonna, I think, produce a great play.”


Chandler Edge – Assistant Director

What made you want to be an assistant director?

“Mrs. Daniel wants everyone to try something new, to see theater from a different view. Now, I can see the business side. I didn’t want to, but now I do like it. It’s cool.”

Have you acted before? What’s some of the differences of directing vs. acting?

“Yes, [I have acted before]. Well, between acting you’re always on set running lines or blocking (the stage movements). Whenever you’re not acting, as the assistant director instead, I am always finding costumes, finding props. I help motivate and encourage. I bring cookies to the cast. I’m doing much more of the management rather than the actual production.”

Are you planning to go to film school or have directing be a part of your future?

“No, but I want to something with theater whether it’s acting, or directing, or whatever. Mrs. Daniel is about getting everyone involved in the whole aspect of it. Whether they see theater as a facility, or art, or as a job, she is well-rounded [in theater]. I don’t really know what I want to be yet, but for now, my dream job would be to be on Broadway or to be in Wicked.”

Anything else you’d like to add?

“Well, I would like to encourage anyone that’s thinking about [acting to] definitely try out. In theater, you can never have too many people, same with a sport, we’re always needing more actors or anyone to work offstage helping with props or costumes. There are so many positions in theater, and everyone thinks of it as acting, but it’s really not. If you’re worried about auditioning, don’t be, because auditioning isn’t hard. If you get through the audition, it’s definitely worth it because the whole experience you have is like a giant family, you’re really connected with people through acting, you really get to open up and be someone who you’re not. My very first audition was for Once Upon A Mattress (last year’s play) and I got one of the lead roles.”


Shelley Daniel – Director

How long have you been planning this play?

“I proposed A Doll’s House when I was hired in June. I wanted to start off the year with a small cast. The five central roles are really big. It’s a lot of work, but it’s mainly juniors and seniors, so it is good for veteran actors to dive into something really heavy. Mrs. Tunnell mentioned to me that Darlington might have a desire to see something heavy, something dramatic. She told me that many of the tenth grade students read A Doll’s House. I have been wanting to direct this play for probably twenty years and it’s also a great show for the Black Box. The space is intimate and the audience is able to connect very easily with the characters.”

How long have you been directing in general?

“I did some student directing in undergrad at Mercer. After Mercer, I went and worked at Disney in Los Angeles and I did some directing there. I went to grad school at Southern Miss and I did some directing as a graduate assistant. After graduate school, I continued directing in community theater, professionally and in the academic setting.”  

What is your process for directing?

“I do a script analysis once I’ve chosen the play. I try to cast actors that are intellectually and emotionally right for the part. It’s very important for the cast as a whole to have chemistry. Sometimes it’s funny because there may be one actor right for the part, and another actor right for a second part, but their chemistry together isn’t… right. I also build the rehearsal calendar, make a master plan of what we will do each rehearsal to meet our production goals, and plan blocking (the characters movements) for the entire play. We then move on to ‘working’ rehearsals, during which we explore character motivation, goals, obstacles, tactics, and relationships. I have them, by the last three weeks, off-book (memorized). In the last three weeks, we have ‘polishing’ rehearsals, during which we fine tune things.”