037: Director Michele Okoh brings the heroes of ECLIPSED to the stage as part of the Women’s Theatre Festival

The first play with an all-Black and all-female cast and creative team to premiere on Broadway, ECLIPSED by Danai Gurira (Black Panther, The Walking Dead) is making it’s regional premiere this summer in the Women’s Theatre Festival. Theatre director Michele Okoh offers her powerful and passionate perspective on the themes of the play, the definition of heroism, and the importance of representation on-stage and off. 

Michele Okoh is excited to be working again with the Women’s Theatre Festival to direct this season’s production of Eclipsed by Danai Gurira. Michele made her directorial debut with WTF last season with Music with Her Silver Sound.  She has extensive training in improvisational theater and has appeared in numerous plays and performances with The Arts Center, Playhouse of Wilson, Duke University, ULL and DSI. When Michele is not directing, she enjoys spending time with her son Dante and leading worship for her church. She also works as an attorney and manages her own law practice, Okoh Law Firm.

ECLIPSED takes place in 2003 and tells the story of five Liberian women and their tale of survival near the end of the Second Liberian Civil War.

ECLIPSED opens on July 27 and runs until August 5 at the The Fruit in Durham. Buy tickets!

Women’s Theatre Festival will be collecting diapers for World Relief Durham at every performance. Please contribute if you can. Beverly Yekeson, survivor of the Second Liberian Civil War, will be the opening night speaker. After the matinee on July 29th there will be a talkback with Durham Crisis Response Center about sexual violence.

This episode is brought to you by the Soapboxers, the official patrons of the Artist Soapbox. If you like these episodes and want more, get on the Soapbox! This episode was recorded at the ASBX home studio.

Time break-down:

[0:00] Episode intro and Michele’s bio.

[1:45] Michele’s connection with the Women’s Theatre Festival and why their mission resonates with her

[3:45] How did Michele get started in theatre? Representation matters. “You can’t be an actress, you don’t look like one.”

[7:00] Participation in the arts as a form of self care. Michele has her own law practice, Okoh Law Firm, and yet she still makes space to participate in theatre as a way of nourishing herself.

[9:16] Why did Michele choose Danai Gurira’s play, ECLIPSED? What is her perspective on this piece?

[13:55] The women in ECLIPSED are heroes. “Women are Heroes” is the theme of the Women’s Theatre Festival for 2018.

[15:31] As the director, what was Michele looking for from actors during the auditions?

[21:37] What is the definition of a hero? When does one become a hero? “A hero needs their strengths applied.” What about push back?

[27:54] Why has it taken so long for a regional premiere of ECLIPSED?

[29:24] Everyone I’ve spoken to is so excited to work on this production. Why is that? “If we don’t, who will?” What is Michele most excited about as she goes into rehearsal?

[31:50] What’s next for Michele?

[32:12] Thanks and sign-off

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