Blithe Spirit marks the A Noise Within directorial debut of Dámaso Rodriguez. He served as assistant director the company’s 2001 production of Noel Coward’s Hay Fever and participated in ANW’s Professional Internship Program in 2000. Rodriguez (no relation to ANW Co-Founder/Co-Artistic Director Julia Rodriguez-Elliott) is co-artistic Director of the acclaimed Furious Theatre Company, where he has directed over 20 productions.
He served for three seasons as associate artistic director of Pasadena Playhouse where he oversaw all programming for the Playhouse’s second stage, The Carrie Hamilton Theatre, including its Hothouse New Play Development program.
He has directed many award-winning, critically acclaimed productions at such theatres as Seattle’s Tony Award-winning Intiman Theatre (Paradise Lost), the Pasadena Playhouse (Orson’s Shadow, The Little Foxes) and Furious Theatre (Grace, The Pain and the Itch, The Playboy of the Western World). Rodriguez had received the Los AngelesDrama Critics CircleAward, the Back Stage GarlandAward, the NAACP Theatre Award, and the PasadenaArts Council’s Gold Crown Award.
Rodriguez answered a few questions about Blithe Spirit.
Question: How did you come to direct this show? Was it one you asked to direct? Or is it one you were asked to direct by ANW?
Answer: I’ve known Geoff and Julia for 10 years, since I was an intern at A Noise Withinduring the Fall 2000 season. We’ve remained in touch throughout the years and they have been very supportive and encouraging of our work at Furious Theatre Company. Earlier this year, they asked me if I’d be interested in directing Blithe Spirit.
Q: You were involved in a previous Noel Coward production of Hayfever at ANW . . . tell me your thoughts about him as a playwright.
A: I served as the assistant director/dramaturg for ANW’s 2001 production of Hay Fever directed by Art Manke. I went on to assistant Art on Noel Coward’s Star Quality (2003) and Private Lives(2005) at Pasadena Playhouse. Coward is a master of comic construction. His plays are built like precision clocks. When done well, they’re extremely funny and timeless, but they’re hard to do well. One can get caught up in playing the Coward “style” and the work can come off as superficial and dated.
Q: What has been the most challenging aspect to directing this show?
A: Casting was the hardest part. We saw some very talented actors for all the roles, but finding actors with just the right instincts and timing for this very specific kind of comedy was the challenge. I am thrilled with our cast. They made the rehearsal process very easy.
For a related article: http://echoflam.com/theater-in-los-angeles/noel-coward-s-divine-comedy-blithe-spirit-at-a-noise-within
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For more information: www.anoisewithin.org.