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Three Eleanors

nytheatre.com q&a preview by Dorothy Chansky
July 12, 2013

What is your job on this show?
Director and co-writer..

What is your show about?
Three iconic women who shared the same first name are springboards to investigate celebrity, but along with the historic Eleanors the piece includes fictional fans, students, employees, and writers who swirl around the "heroines" offering responses that range from rapture to resentment.

When did you know you wanted to work in the theater, and why?
I got started in theatre at age six in my home town of Beverly, Massachusetts. My mom asked me if I wanted to take dramatics after school. I thought that word was the same as “acrobatics” and that I’d get to wear a pink leotard with sequins. Nowadays I teach, write, and direct more than I act, but I guess you never lose that pink leotard gene.

Complete this sentence: My show is the only one opening in NYC this summer that...?
My show is the only one opening in New York this summer that has a built-in art exhibit and a whimsical mashup meeting in the afterlife of a medieval queen, an iconic humanitarian, and a nineteenth century diva.

Is there a particular moment in this show that you really love or look forward to? Without giving away surprises, what happens in that moment and why does it jazz you?
There’s a moment in the show when a fictional ninth grader who is outraged at having to spend an entire term learning about Eleanor Roosevelt basically gives her teacher the finger, but she doesn’t do it as an obscene gesture—instead she takes us by surprise with a very funny little creative arts endeavor. I totally love the way actress Elizabeth Stromsness pulls it off, but I also love the fact that we sympathize both with the student and the teacher, who’s played with charm and moxie by Maggie Low.

Which cartoon character would you identify your show with: Bugs Bunny, Daffy Duck, Mickey Mouse, Marge Simpson?
Marge Simpson! The show, like Marge, is both realistic and abstract. (Cartoons are one of my favorite forms of abstraction.) Also like Marge, it’s feminist in a gentle and offbeat way.

Who are your heroes?
My heroes are heroines: Eleanor of Aquitaine, Eleanor Roosevelt, and Eleanora Duse. Also Suzan-Lori Parks, even though she doesn’t make an appearance in this show.