Merrimack Repertory Theatre Blog



Stephanie Johnson

Our next backstage interview features Stephanie Johnson, an Emerson College graduate student and assistant to the director on The Blonde, the Brunette and the Vengeful Redhead. Stephanie was kind enough to share a little bit about herself and what has been going on during rehearsals for the past couple of weeks.


Where did you grow up, and when did you decide you wanted to work in the theatre?


I grew up in Barre, a small town in central Massachusetts. It was an amazing place to grow up, full of musicians and local artists. I think I have always known I wanted to be involved in the theatre; it was just a matter of finding out which part of the process I loved the most.


How did you get involved in The Blonde, the Brunette and the Vengeful Redhead?


I was so fortunate to be asked by our amazing Director, Melia Bensussen. She is the Department Head at Emerson College where I am a graduate student. I have always loved coming to the Merrimack as a teen. When I researched the play and heard that Karen MacDonald was aboard I was very excited to get involved with the production.


What is your role as an assistant to the director on the production?

My role in this production has varied daily. I early in the rehearsal process I was doing research for the production, looking at details of character’s lives that might need more depth to be fully realized. I am always happy to jump in and take script or performance notes for Melia or Karen when it might be helpful to them. Now that we are in the middle of the rehearsal process, I am an extra pair of director eyes and ears, trying to anticipate issues before they arise and help solve questions that come up from rehearsing.


Can you compare your experience working on this production with other shows you have worked on? Have you encountered any unique challenges on this production?


This show has been very different for me, the atmosphere has been wonderful. Working with just five women in the rehearsal hall unearthed so much about this play and its points of view. I have never worked on a one woman show before; the level of meticulous detail that we can take the time to discover is extraordinary. The audience is in for a real treat. There have been some unique challenges for me; my focus and job description is different because of the genre. There is only one actor who needs direction and therefore my responsibility is not on running scenes with other actors or directing specific sections. All of my attention is on finding as many solutions as I can to make this the smoothest process possible for an amazing team.


What are your long-term career goals in theatre?


I will be finishing my M.A. at Emerson next spring. I intend to continue my education and work in the field, hopefully completing a PhD with a focus in Classical Theater and Directing. From there my goal is to do some freelance directing work, resurrecting some lesser-known Elizabethan & Restoration plays and with a little bit of luck I will be able to also continue to work with contemporary drama. Eventually I would love to find a college or university to teach at, where I can share all of my wacky theatre stories with a new generation.

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