Danielle Guy is directing the Dominion Stage production of “Five Women Wearing the Same Dress”, a comedy by Alan Ball (HBO “Six Feet Under” and “True Blood”), which will begin on November 5, 2021. It is about Danielle’s second production with the Arlington-based Company, having previously helmed the rock musical “Bloody, Bloody Andrew Jackson”, Dominion’s last live-action “pre-Covid” production in the winter of 2020.
Danielle has directed in various towns in Appalachia and Northern Virginia since 2009. Although her past works have mostly focused on classical works, she has been excited to expand into contemporary plays. , musicals and movement-based works. Although directing is her passion, she has also worked as a conductor at the Contemporary American Theater Festival, a producer at the Black Box Arts Center and artistic director of the Inspirata Theater Company. In addition, she has worked as a fight, dance and intimacy choreographer, costume designer, playwright, script consultant and stage manager in various productions in the tri-state region. Happy to return to the Dominion stage, “Five women wearing the same dress“ is Danielle’s latest exploration in more recent works.
What approach do you take when considering directing a new play, 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 to take notes of my different reactions throughout the play; this way I can place myself in the role of an audience member and anticipate what they may feel when watching it. At the end of my first reading of “Five Women Wearing the Same Dress,” my last note I said was, “Well, that was too much.”
It’s quite a reaction! What exactly did you mean by that?
From a purely analytical standpoint, this piece has way too much going on. While all five of the identical bridesmaids’ dresses are marked in the script as gruesome and ugly, this sheer daring mentality spills over into every other aspect of the room as well. The play where the action takes place is too much, the dialogue is too much, the changes of pace are too much, and sometimes even the plot is too much. The amount of material that is packed into 70 pages of text by all accounts would be considered way too much.
It might suggest that you did not want to run this show. Did we miss anything in your response to that first reading?
How many times have women been told they are “too many?” Living in the world as a woman is constantly feeling the pressure to downplay every aspect of ourselves in order to maintain the status quo and not make anyone uncomfortable. We shrink our voices, our waistlines and our personalities because he’s brainwashed in us from a young age, it’s our responsibility to society. Don’t fuss. Does not take up space. Don’t be a problem. This room is full of too many. And for a play with five women and one man, it would be better if it was. Whether it was the playwright’s intention or not, he provided a play that allows women to embody their “too-being”. It is for this very reason that this piece is important to produce.
You are well in the rehearsal process now. How’s it going?
I am so lucky to be working with this group of actors who are willing and excited to explore all the ups, downs and sometimes ugliness that have been provided to us. We’re able to look at a time frame where five women are able to let 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 the public will take away from this production?
I hope this inspires each of them to breathe a little deeper, laugh a little harder, and allow themselves the joy of being a little ‘too much’.
“Five women wearing the same dress“ will take place 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.