Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Creative Team Interview #1: Ariel Francoeur, Director for THE LOVER and DANNY

Welcome to our exciting series of interviews, where you can get to know the cast & creative team in our Summer Series, a double-header of John Patrick Shanley's Danny and the Deep Blue Sea and Harold Pinter's The Lover. The Summer Series is a true repertory event - both shows perform on the same evening with the same cast, creative team, and design concept.

The shows run back to back July 27 - August 12, 2012
Wed-Sat at 7pm;  Sat & Sun at 2pm, in New York City.

To donate (it's a worthy cause!), click here.
For tickets, click here.
For more info about The Seeing Place, click here.

Your Name:
Ariel Francoeur

Role in this Production:

How long have you been directing?
On and off for ten years.

How long have you been in NYC?
Almost four years.

Where are you from originally?
The most beautiful state, Vermont! And I spent a good chunk of time in Portland, Maine.

What's been your favorite project, to date?
They’ve all been special in their way, but the first project that comes to mind is Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?, which was produced at my college inPortland, Maine. Half-way through the process, as the result of extensive character work, improv, and late-night discussions, the cast and I decided the show would start out as a staged reading, and as the characters progressed into deeper drunkenness and honesty, the scripts would be referenced less and less and by the final act, abandoned entirely. It was exciting to experiment with performance style, and the result was fascinating.

What do you like about being involved with The Seeing Place?
With The Seeing Place and the specific approach to rehearsals that we use, I have had to analyze the script from the perspective of the actors in addition to the traditional perspective of the director. This is an actor-focused ensemble, so instead of me pounding the gavel down and saying 'you shall do it my way!', we explore the actors' ideas about the characterization, relationships, and objectives, and if these ideas serve the overall story, we use them. I may have a different idea, but we go with the actor's idea if it still results in conveying the story. Not to say I've been a dictator before, but it is exciting to work in a style that allows me to gently guide the amazing creative ideas the actors are coming up with.

What's a fun story about an experience you've had in your field?
About three years ago I got lasek surgery (nearsighted-ness be gone!), because in my acting career I didn't want to deal with the whole contacts/glasses thing. Also, I had a recurring nightmare about getting trapped on a desert island with no glasses. Ever since the surgery, ALL MY DIRECTORS WANT ME TO WEAR GLASSES ONSTAGE. I actually had to take my old glasses that I thought I had put away forever and pop the lenses out of them. So I guess you can take the glasses away from the nerd, but everyone knows she is still a nerd.

What's your previous experience with these two plays (THE LOVER and DANNY....)?
I'd read Danny, as well as several other Shanley plays. I had not read The Lover, and now that I've worked on it in depth I've been inspired to read as much Pinter as possible. His plays are pretty brilliant!

What's been the most challenging thing about preparing for these projects?
Prioritizing. In addition to directing both shows, I am also helping produce, and plugging away at the day job AND my acting career. I am constantly making check-lists, and at night I dream of my calendar. I'm not complaining though, since in these circumstances I thrive.

What excites you about The Summer Series?
Audiences will witness top-notch actors stretching fearlessly into two sets of characters. This can almost be classified as a professional sporting event. A marathon for the actors, a voyeuristic journey for the spectators.

To learn more about Ariel, visit www.arielfrancoeur.com. Twitter: @arielfrancoeur

To donate to support this project, please click here.


  1. Yay for Ariel! The production of Virginia Woolf sounds fascinating, I love the concept! Looking forward to seeing the shows.

  2. I just want to add that, though our process puts the focus on the actor's creative ideas, it's the director who makes sure that the ideas are coherent (!), cohesive, and work together to tell the same story. Ariel has been a master at this, and rehearsals just keep getting better and better!

  3. You know, I've always been jealous of people with glasses. I actually used to wear real glasses to try and screw up my eyes. And I think I'm one of those directors that generally likes to see people wear them. Because librarians are hot. Right?

    But in all honesty, lots of people tell me it's much easier to act with contacts, so I think you chose the right path.


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