Tuesday, February 22, 2011

An Interview with Quilters' Director, Chrissie Addison

1. Why have you chosen to bring Quilters back to IT? I was in Theatre El Dorado’s production of Quilters back in ’87. It was a memorable experience for me and for most folks attending the show. When acting, I grow to love most of the characters I’ve played, and some have been real characters from history – like playing Annie in Annie Get Your Gun a few years back. Quilters is a vibrant celebration of real roles women played in settling our country and are an important part of her-story... (get it? his-story)

2. Why is this an important story to tell? To me, it’s important to know about where we’ve come from – as a collective culture and as a country. And living in the West, I love stories about those who died trying to get here to the magical draw the West held.

2. Why theatre in the round? With the audience surrounding the stage, the experience will be more intimate, more real. Also, I wanted to be a part of the fun challenge of doing it for the first time. And, for God’s sake, it is a challenge.

3. Why is there a 12 and up age audience rating? Being that all 16 stories (and many short pieces, monologues) are real, the action depicts death, fires, struggle, loss and such. The show is full of hope and determination, but it’s not a children’s show in general. Children over the age of 12 are more suited for this material.

4. What kind of an impact are you hopeful the viewers of Quilters will come away with? I would hope people feel uplifted and entertained, if not more knowledgeable about our living history in America. Quilters isn’t a typical show like most Broadway musicals. The music is actually more difficult than most musicals. It’s unlike anything most of us have seen on stage before; it’s an experience one shares along with the actors.

5. What is it like directing an all-female cast? This is the third show I’ve directed with all women. The same challenges and hard work ethic are required of all of us in any show, regardless of one’s sex, but I will say this: a group of determined women can make a strong cast. What I do enjoy seeing is the camaraderie and fun they can spontaneously share together. I usually end up wishing I could join them onstage.

6. With El Dorado County steeped in history of the “Quilters” period, many docents and history buffs will likely be attending. How have you found the nexus between historical accuracy and artistic direction? In all aspects the artistic staff has striven to be as accurate historically as possible: costumes, props, stage design, staging and the like. I only wish I could visit 1870 for a day and hear their dialects, slang and see their body language and ways of being. On those levels we only guess. The audience coming to most shows is not just interested in seeing a “museum” piece; they want to be entertained as well. We’re striving to do all of this.

7. What has been the most challenging part of directing the show and what has been the most fun? Every aspect of directing this show has been challenging – especially with putting it in the round. Accomodations and adjustments have to be made everywhere. I’ve enjoyed this process. Being on stage and working the action with the gals is my reward for all the planning and prep work. Once we get rolling, I love watching them warm up and get their energies together to deliver a good show.

8. Do you identify with any one of the characters in particular? Which one and why? I see pieces of my life entertwined throughout the script. Twenty three years ago I had favorites I played on this same stage; this time I relate to them all more and more.

9. What will be done with this production of Quilters that will set it apart from most musical productions? First it is non-fiction – verbatim scenes from real diaries of the westward movement. Also, it is all women playing 98 different roles. And the music is different and enjoyable. No walls or major scenery will seem different. And having a covered wagon on stage will seem unique! Most aspects of the production will seem “different”. I hope to see all theater fans there!

Tickets are available now by phone at 530-642-0404
or online (PayPal only) at www.it-tickets.org