TWU's season-opener marks directorial debut
Oct. 10, 2023 – DENTON – LeeAnn Ducker's first time is here.
Finally doing that for which you have spent years thinking, preparing and training conjures an assortment of emotions. Exciting, thrilling, satisfying. Terrifying. Like the first time to skydive or perform surgery, beyond which there are no comebacks.
Ducker's moment begins Wednesday night, when the master's candidate makes her directorial debut with The Affected Young Ladies, the season-opening play of the Texas Woman's University Theatre division's 2023-24 campaign.
"I took a directing class over the spring, and as soon as the summer started, I began adapting the piece," Ducker said. "So it almost feels like I've been at it all year. But finally getting down to work on something feels really good. I've done the classes. I've been working in theater for a long time. I've been wanting to do this. So it feels like, finally."
The play runs Oct. 11-15 in Red Bud Theatre's studio space, located on the northeast corner of the Student Union at Hubbard Hall, next to the Theatre's accessible entrance. Seating in Red Bud's studio space is extremely limited, and patrons are advised to purchase tickets online.
"Most of the shows are on the Red Bud main stage. I'm not sure when the last time a show was in the studio space. This space is different (from Red Bud's main theatre), and that's been a fun challenge for the student designers, having to work in a space they're unfamiliar with. It's more like a black box space, which in North Texas is most common. So it's a good thing for all of us, it's really getting used to what is common in the industry in North Texas."
This isn't just Ducker's first time to direct. The play is her own adaptation of Molière's Les Précieuses, a satire about two young women entering an unfamiliar social world. The précieuses of the title are women who indulge in lively conversations and word games.
In the modern version, their media-influenced views on fame and big-city life make them prey for con artists, and Ducker adapted the play from its setting in the 1600s to current time.
"It took me a lot longer than I thought it was going to," she said. "When I first read through the play, I was looking at all these references that he's making and just realized, oh, these are pop-culture fads in 17th century France. How can I relate that to something in a modern framework that an audience today is going to understand? Madeleine de Scudéry, one of the writers Molière references the most in this piece, created the Map of Tenderness, which was this map of the different locations was relating to how a relationship should progress. A modern audience isn't going to understand that, but they're going to understand a modern interpretation of this is how you go through relationships. Finding all of those pieces, it really felt like putting a puzzle together. And the more I really honed in and the further along I got, I felt like the pieces were fitting just a little bit easier and easier. And the deeper I got, the better I felt about the work that I had adapted."
Ducker derived her script from a public-domain translation.
"A lot of the lines and their structure stayed the same," Ducker said. "One thing that was known about the précieuses was the language that they used, and that was what Molière was really satirizing. So where do I find those moments of this language that is précieuse (precious) and how do I change what they're trying to say and make it fit today? I used text messages and modern slang. I changed more of the lines for some characters, others not so much. For the young ladies, more of their dialogue is closer to Molière's.
"A lot of this play is these references and talking about contemporary works," she said. "There were some times where I was like, this is perfect as it is. There's a moment where one of the leads, Mascarille, which was the character played by Molière, reads a poem for the ladies. The poem is just fine as it is. But through a lot of the rest of the scene, I made some changes."
The project began life as part of Ducker's master's degree program, and after discussions with Theatre professors Noah Lelek and Patrick Bynane, the thought was to use the play as an addition to the 2023-24 season. Instead, it became the season-opening work.
"I'm not entirely sure whose decision it was, but they ultimately decided, hey, why don't we include this as a part of this season as one of the main shows?" said Ducker, who earned her bachelor's degree from TWU in 2018. "I'm so grateful that they had that confidence in me to direct a main stage production, and I hope I do them proud."
That decision came down in Spring 2023. "It was originally what I'd been hoping for," Ducker said.
The anxiety came later.
"That started once I actually started working with the actors," Ducker said. "Once I got into the rehearsals, and I'm like, 'oh, gosh, am I actually qualified to do this?' Impostor syndrome started to hit once I actually got in the room with the actors."
These are actors with whom Ducker is well familiar, having performed together a few months ago in the final production of the 2022-23 season, the musical Head Over Heels.
"It's like when your friend gets a promotion and becomes your boss," Ducker said. "The dynamic shifting can be a little weird. At this point, I feel more comfortable as it's gone through. I feel like I've settled in a little bit."
Ducker has been in several plays in the Dallas-Fort Worth area, and has film and commercial credits. But the move to directing could be more prominent in her stage future.
"I have a genetic condition that affects my joints, and it's progressive, so I know at some point, performing is going to become harder and harder for me," she said. "So this is one of the reasons why this is the direction I should look into, not only because it's something I've been interested in and I really feel like I can do well, but it's something I'll still physically be able to do as well."
Following the run of The Affected Young Ladies, Ducker will turn her attention to finishing her master's in the Spring. From there, she's looking at teaching theatre.
"I'd like to teach at junior colleges," Ducker said. "I went to Tarrant County College Northeast campus, and those were some of my favorite years, most of my friends I met there, and one it's a career that I think I'll be able to physically do. It's varied enough to where I can physically do it, but I also have a passion for. I love junior colleges, and I think they're undervalued a lot of the times."
The Affected Young Ladies
adapted and directed by LeeAnn Ducker
October 11-15, 2023
Brenna Petersen as Madelon
Brooklyn Long as Cathos
Brian Vigen as Mascarille of Marquis
Felix Ferris as Victor Jodelet
Christian Garcia as Gorgibus
Audrey Grantham as Marotte
Jocelyn Losak as Almanzor
Dinvela Adam as Du Croisy
Wesley Miller as La Grange
Molly Hudson, ensemble
Shiann Stewart, ensemble
Seher Iqbal, ensemble
Christian Hachat, chairmen/ensemble
Ethyn Gutierrez, chairmen/ensemble
Daniel Sandoval, technical director
Bryanna Ditaway, stage manager
Robyn Kirkland, assistant stage manager
Bonnie Buswold, set designer
Tanvi Khanduri, lighting designer
Addy Goforth, sound designer
Jasmine Cintora, sound designer
McKenzie Mitchell, costume designer
Isabelle Malone, costume designer
Eliot Harrod, projection designer
Adrian Theisen, paint charge
Obrey Minor, properties artisan
Tickets are $10 for adults, including TWU faculty and staff; $5 for students, children and senior citizens. Tickets are available online.
Digital Content Manager
Page last updated 7:45 AM, October 12, 2023