Starting February 2, 2024, the City of Fairfax Theatre Company will be performing “POTUS” by Selina Fillinger. It is directed by Jack Lockrem and produced by Amanda Herman Snellings and Courtney Marsh. This political play involves a PR nightmare at the White House and the seven women who risk it all to keep the President out of trouble. “POTUS” is “a bawdy and irreverent look at sex, politics, and the women in charge of the man in charge of the free world.” In the roles of the seven women are Juanisha Brooks, Aja Goode, Heather Plank, Maggie Shircliff, Brittany Washington, Carolne Mae Woodson, and Carolyn Heier Young.
The creative team includes Molly Marsh (set), Stacy King (lights), Lori Crocket (costumes) Courtney Marsh (sound), Hana Tawil (props), Jillian Riti (intimacy coordinator), Katie Warner (fight choreography) and Jack Rollins (stage manager).
Heather Plank’s area performances include Vivian in “Brute Farce” (world premiere, Dominion Stage); Claire in “Boston Marriage” (Dominion Stage); Annie in “Last Summer at Bluefish Cove” (Dominion Stage; WATCH Best Ensemble Winner and WATCH Featured Actress nominee); Emilie in “Emilie la Marquise… Defends Her Life Tonight” (Vienna Theatre Company); and Rosamund Plinth in “The Violet Hour” (Elden Street Players). A Northern Virginia native who began acting in grade school with the local children’s theatre, she studied theatre at Sweet Briar College and Marymount London Drama Centre.
Before this play, did you ever have any connection to the White House or politics?
My only connection is growing up in the DMV area where national news is also local news. I am always surprised when I meet people who say they never think about politics! How is that possible?!? They must be visiting from out of town.
Without revealing too much, can you tell us about your character, Harriet?
Harriet is a policy wonk/politician who has sacrificed anything we might consider a personal life in order to pursue her ambitions for political power. She’s a long-time aide to the President, currently serving as his Chief of Staff. It’s fair to say her single-minded pursuit of power has warped her humanity more than a little bit.
You studied drama in London. While there did you get to see any British theatre, and if so, what was most memorable?
If you love theatre, there is no better gig than being a student in London where you can usually get last minute seats at any theatre in town at the student rate! I usually went to the theatre a couple nights a week. Standouts include “The Three Lives of Lucie Cabral” by Theatre de la Complicite for their non-realistic/clowning performance style and a workshop on Shakespeare’s language facilitated by the director John Barton and members of the Royal Shakespeare Company. At the workshop I attended, Judi Dench and her husband, Michael Williams, were on the hook to tackle whatever scenes the director put in front of them and describe their process/approach in real time. It was like having a seat in the rehearsal room
Can you tell us a bit about yourself now?
I live in Alexandria, VA and work as a program/project manager in IT or, as I think of it, I’m like a stage manager for engineers. In addition to community theatre, I love to cook and bake (and share the results!) and I volunteer with People. Animals. Love (PAL), making animal therapy visits to schools and memory care facilities a couple times a month with my dog Tennessee June. I’m sort of the opposite of my character. My only goal for my day job is to pay the bills and leave me enough time and energy for the stuff that really fulfills me!
Is there a role you would love to play in the future?
What actor doesn’t love this question? I’d say rather than specific roles, I would love to get cast in plays by playwrights I love—Tony Kushner, Lauren Yee, Timberlake Wertenbaker. I’d love to see a theatre company around here stage “The Women of Lockerbie” by Deborah Brevoort. It’s a powerful, mostly-female ensemble piece and I’d definitely try out for that!
“POTUS: Or, Behind Every Great Dumbass Are Seven Women Trying to Keep Him Alive” runs weekends February 2-10, 2024 by the City of Fairfax Theatre Company at the Katherine Johnson Middle School, 3801 Jermantown Road, Fairfax, VA 22030. Performances are at 7:30 pm and, on February 4 and 11, at 3 pm. For more information and to purchase tickets, go online.