13 Nov A Q&A with Director Jessica Franz on SENSE AND SENSIBILITY, Plus Director’s Notes
We caught up with director of Sense and Sensibility, Jessica Franz, during rehearsals to learn about her background and her thoughts on the show. After the Q&A, we’ve included her director’s notes that you can also find in the production program.
Q: What has your involvement with OCTA been so far?
My first show at OCTA was onstage as Suzanne in Picasso at the Lapin Agile in 2010. That was my first introduction to OCTA and my first introduction to many of the fine board members you see around you today. I was able to jump right into my next show, directing David’s Mother in 2011, then directed Fuddy Meers in 2011. I traveled up north (North KC) for a few years, and was very excited to come back to the OCTA stage for Arcadia and last season’s production of Unnecessary Farce.
Q: Can you tell audiences a little about the adaptation?
Jon Jory wrote (and directed) this adaptation of Sense and Sensibility for Northlight Theatre in Chicago in 2011. The goal was to take Jane Austen’s amazing storytelling and construct it to flow on stage. He was the producing director at Actors Theatre of Louisville for 31 years and is a prolific playwright, with a knack for creating shows to fit in small theaters with small ensembles. I read several adaptations, and Jory’s popped out at me as staying true to the book, while being able to tell an exciting, engaging story on stage.
Q: Many people will be familiar with the story. How is your interpretation on the OCTA stage going to revive or relate the story to audiences?
We really focused on how the outside world and society affects our heroines, the Dashwood sisters. From the beginning, their lives are not their own. They have no inheritance, no options open to them, they are at the mercy of their next-door neighbors. This is the World we enter into, the same story many know, with their favorite parts, but with a slight edge. Jane Austen is an incredibly witty writer, and I think people have a tendency to see her work as ‘just romance’. This interpretation challenges that thinking, while also bringing out the humour that is Jane Austen’s writing.
Q: You’re also an actress. What role from the show would you like to play at some point?
Honestly, Marianne is the person I want to be when I grow up. Not really, but… really. Her pure and unadulterated love of passion and throwing herself 100% into whatever she chooses to at that moment, her ‘living life to the fullest’ mentality. She lives in the moment, something that seems to be a constant goal for people ‘in this day and age’. Of course, there are consequences, but… what’s life without a few Willoughbys in the road!
Q: What are some comedic and dramatic moments you can tease audiences with?
One of my favorite moments is when a chaise turns into a horse and whisks one of our heroines away. The actor playing the… horse, truly made it his own.
Q: What do you have coming up?
In March I’m acting in Beau Jest at The Chestnut Fine Arts Center, just down the road. And May 2019, I am Extremely excited to be directing The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time at The Barn Players. It has been at the top of my radar for a few years now, and is an incredible insight into an autistic boy’s mind.
Q: Is there anything else about the show or yourself that you’d like people to know?
I was not the first person to put wheels on chairs. But I am so proud of the World that this design team and crew of actors have put together, I hope you’ll join us for the ride.
DIRECTOR’S PROGRAM NOTES
My ﬁrst encounter with Sense and Sensibility was the Emma Thompson ﬁlm version of 1995 (or possibly having to read it for school. And not. quite. ﬁnishing it.). I lovingly watched Kate Winslet frolic in the rain, and Hugh Grant be his normal dumbfounded self as Edward. I loved the idea of tea parties, empire waist dresses, and the opportunity to have nothing to do but walk in the sun surrounded by great estates, reading delightful books.
Of course, then the reality starts to set in, and I realized the dark side of the great Jane Austen. Themes that are hinted at knowingly, hidden in plain view. Reading Jon Jory’s adaptation of Sense and Sensibility, the negligible amount of power that Elinor and Marianne have over their own futures, even their own Current daily lives, hit a chord with me. These two young women, who were born with every opportunity, are now entirely at the whim of friends and distant family. Which, is what led me to the wheels. Never having sure footing, the ability for anyone to just whisk you away before you can object. And of course everyone, EVERYONE, is Always watching your next step.
Please revel in the dancing, the romance, and love lost, but do be aware, this story may be giving you a bit more than you realize…
MORE ABOUT THE SHOW
-Check out the PRODUCTION PHOTOS
-Read about the CAST AND CREW
-Taking Stage at OCTA: Talking Sense with Jessica Franz
-Sense and Sensibility and SKIBIDI!