Gaining Practical Experience with a Pro

Alumna lends her expertise to actors in the upcoming musical “The Fairy Queen”
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Helping students with breathing and pronunciation exercises, Timpo encourages students to reach their personal goals. (Photo courtesy of OWU’s Department of Theatre & Dance)

When The Fairy Queen takes the Main Stage at Chappelear Drama Center this November it will do so with the inspiration of alumna Awoye Timpo ’00, a freelance theater director in New York City, who spent a week with the actors of the musical. It was her first visit back to Ohio Wesleyan since graduation day in May 2000.

“It was very surreal to be back on campus,” Timpo says of her visit in early September. “Just walking around brought back so many memories. It was really wonderful to be back at the theater department. I was able to work on such a variety of plays while I was there and learn so many skills that I still am able to put into practice today.”

Since graduation, Timpo obtained a master’s degree in contemporary French studies from the University of London/ Institut Britannique de Paris and has had a very successful career as a director, producer and translator. As artistic director of Novisi Productions, she has produced and directed productions of The Vanished by Olivier Coyette, Rhinoceros by Eugene Ionesco, and a devised piece, Shakespeare’s Sonnets on Tap, that uses tap dance and spoken text to explore Shakespeare’s sonnets, among many others. She also was the Associate Artistic Director of Shakespeare on the Sound for three seasons.

Theater Professor D. Glen Vanderbilt Jr. sought out Timpo because he was familiar with her work with the Shakespeare on the Sound Theatre Company and knew she could help lead his cast through a sort of “Shakespeare Boot Camp,” as The Fairy Queen is a musical treatment of Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream.

Timpo worked with the cast of ‘The Fairy Queen’ every day for a week. (Photo courtesy of OWU’s Department of Theatre & Dance)

While on campus, Timpo helped build the acting ensemble, working with the actors on vocal and physical acting technique. Her advice and coaching was welcomed by the students, particularly Claire Hackett ’14, a theater and history major from Washington, D.C., who plays the role of The Fairy Queen, Titania.

“Awoye really takes advantage of the opportunities to be creative,” Hackett says. “She can create something out of almost nothing, and in a way her work is avant garde and classic at the same time, which is both an interesting and useful combination in theater.”

Timpo worked with the cast every day for a week, working with the entire acting company, in small groups and one-on-one, giving them guidance by sharing her successes in life and encouraging students to reach their personal goals.

“I hope that they have a new appreciation for Shakespeare and how to approach his extraordinary plays,” Timpo says. “I’ve had some great Shakespeare teachers and they really made the text come alive in exciting, dynamic, and inspiring ways. If I was able to pass on even a little of that and empower them to dive into the language and text of their characters in new ways, that would be wonderful. There are some fundamental tools that really help to unlock the beauty and meaning of the language which we worked on so I hope they’ll carry those tools with them as they continue to explore Shakespeare’s plays and any other work that they do both at OWU and throughout their careers.”

Kristen Krak ’15, a theater and psychology double major from Granville, Ohio, who plays the role of Hermia in The Fairy Queen, says she is excited to be performing in her first main stage production and is grateful to Timpo, who taught her some new techniques and inspired her to follow her dreams.

“It was so cool to have worked with someone who is out in the world doing fantastic things and came from OWU,” Krak says. “As well as working with her all week at evening rehearsals where we did a lot of fun physical and vocal games and exercises, as well as some technique to tackling Shakespeare, she made it a point to meet with every cast member to work individually for an hour or so. Mine focused a lot on the vocal side of the text, and we worked through breathing and pronunciation exercises. She also gave lots of valuable information about how to start a career in the theatre.”

“The Fairy Queen” will appear on the Main Stage at Chappelear Drama Center, 45 Rowland Ave., in Delaware, at 8 p.m., on Nov. 2, 3, 9, and 10, and 2 p.m. on Nov. 11. Tickets are $10 for general admission and $5 for senior citizens, Ohio Wesleyan employees, and non-Ohio Wesleyan students. Admission is free for Ohio Wesleyan students with a valid ID. To reserve tickets, call the Theatre Box Office at (740) 368-3855.

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