Danielle Guy is directing Dominion Stage’s production of “Five Women Wearing the Same Dress,” a comedy by Alan Ball (HBO’s “Six Feet Under” and “True Blood”), which opens November 5, 2021. This is Danielle’s second production with the Arlington-based company, having previously directed the rock musical “Bloody, Bloody Andrew Jackson,” Dominion’s last, live “pre-Covid” production in the winter of 2020.
Danielle has directed in various cities throughout Appalachia and Northern Virginia since 2009. While her past works have predominantly focused on classical works, she has been enthusiastic to expand to contemporary plays, musicals, and movement-based works. Though directing is her passion, she has also worked as Company Manager with The Contemporary American Theater Festival, Producer of The Black Box Arts Center, and Artistic Director of Inspirata Theatre Company. Additionally, she has worked as a stage combat, dance, and intimacy choreographer, costume designer, dramaturg, script consultant, and stage manager in various productions in the tri-state area. Happy to return to Dominion Stage, “Five Women Wearing the Same Dress“ is Danielle’s latest exploration into newer works.
What approach do you take when you’re considering a new play to direct, and how did that lead you to want to direct “Five Women Wearing the Same Dress?”
When I first sit down to read a play, I like to make sure that I take notes of my different reactions throughout the piece; that way I can place myself in the role of an audience member and anticipate how they may feel watching it. Upon finishing my first read through of “Five Women Wearing the Same Dress,” my final note I stated was, “Well that was too much.”
That’s quite a reaction! What exactly did you mean by that?
Coming from a purely analytical standpoint, this play has far too much going on. While the five identical bridesmaids’ dresses are indicated in the script as horrendous and ugly, that mentality of pure audacity overflows into every other aspect of the play as well. The room where the action takes place is too much, the dialogue is too much, the beat changes are too much, and at times, even the plot is too much. The sheer amount of material that gets packed into 70 pages of text by all accounts would be determined as far too much.
That might leave one to think you did not want to direct this show. Are we missing something in your response to that first reading?
How often have women been told that they are “too much?” To live in the world as a woman is to constantly feel the pressure to minimize every aspect of ourselves in order to maintain the status quo and not make anyone feel uncomfortable. We shrink our voices, our waistlines, and our personalities because it is indoctrinated into us at an early age that’s what our responsibility is to society. Don’t make a fuss. Don’t take up space. Don’t be a problem. This play is chock full of too much. And for a play that consists of five women and a single man, it better be. Whether this was the playwright’s intention or not, he has provided a piece that allows women to embody their “too much-ness.” It is for that exact reason this piece is important to produce.
You are well into the rehearsal process now. How is it going?
I am so fortunate to work with this group of actors who are willing and excited to explore all the highs, lows, and sometimes ugliness that has been provided for us. We are able to look into a slice of time where five women are able to let themselves go and be as emotional, outspoken, messy, and over the top as they want in the face of the strangest chapters of our lives.
What do you hope audiences will take away from this production?
I hope that it will inspire each of them to breathe a little deeper, laugh a little louder, and allow themselves the joy of being a little “too much.”
“Five Women Wearing the Same Dress“ runs November 5 – 20, 2021 at Gunston Theater Two, 2700 South Lang Street, Arlington VA 22206. For tickets and information, visit the Dominion Stage website here.