Fuller

A hybrid theatrical experiment
directed by Juliana Kleist-Méndez

Presented by the Department of Theater Studies as part of the New Works Lab

Creative Team and Production Staff

Director
Juliana Kleist-Méndez

Scenic Designer
Mollie Singer

Lighting Designer
James Clotfelter

Assistant Director/Stage Manager
Matt Norman

Broadcast Director
Austin F. Powers

Head Electrician
Sean Haggerty

Costume Shop Manager/Scenic Draper
Erin M. West

Scene Shop Manager
David Berberian

Production Manager
Thom Quintas

Cast

Asha Nicole Bashir López
Joanna Brooke
Aiya (Anika) Kuchukova
Alanna Manfredini
Kristen Quesada
Rebecca Williamson

Senior Director, Duke Venue & Production Management
Marcy Edenfield

Associate Director, Theater Operations
Richard Kless

Assistant Manager, Theater Operations
Leah Austin 

Assistant Manager, University Box Office
Shantel Barrick

Supervisor, Audience Services
Angela Joines

Production Technician, Senior
Paul Chapman, Erik Koehler, Christopher Scully-Thurston, Scott Silver, Griffin Matthews

This production would like to send a special thanks to

Soumya Lahoti & Emily Miller for their invaluable contributions to this show
Duke’s Department of Theater Studies
Duke Venue & Production Management
Charlie Frey
All our families and loved ones who have supported us through this process

Director’s Note

Whether you are sitting in Sheafer Theater, the Ruby Lounge at the Rubenstein Arts Center, or in the comfort of your home, welcome!

We are gathered here tonight to celebrate and learn from the life of Loïe Fuller (1862-1928), a queer American choreographer who took Paris, and ultimately, Europe, by storm in the early 1900’s by revolutionizing dance and lighting design. Loïe’s signature dance transfixed audiences as she manipulated skirts of billowing fabric (her own patented design) and light to transform from an orchid, to an ocean, to a butterfly, and so much more. As she gained fame, she kept experimenting: she hired more light operators and innovated new techniques for stage lighting, she was given a laboratory where she created 13,000 new color compounds, and she was invited to the French Astronomical Society for her investigations around the physical properties of light. Yet, for all these accolades, when she attempted to act in a play without her special effects and gossamer fabrics, she was eviscerated by the press. And, even though during her lifetime she moved in circles with Marie Curie, Thomas Edison, August Rodin, and Claude Debussy, she has faded from memory outside of Academia.

Tonight, we invite you to explore with us. To sit back, and take in our theatrical investigations rooted in Loïe’s life. We are at liminal middle moment. A moment in between the beginning and end of the era of pandemic.  I believe that the only way forward is to reach into the past and renegotiate our relationship with the our tools.  Not just tools we have to make theater, but also the systems we have strengthened over centuries.  What is still serving us and how can we use it differently? And, equally important, what needs to be let go?  Who knows what we will discover when we allow ourselves space to play?

Biographies

Asha Nicole Bashir López (Performer) is a freshman looking to double major in Biology with a concentration in Marine Biology, and Theater. She is thrilled to participate in her first production at Duke University. She was previously cast in “El Cresencio” by Oscar Liera as Maribel Lucania. In her home country of Mexico, she has previously participated in productions as a member of the Representative Theater Group of the Monterrey Institute of Technology in Morelia. She came to Duke University hoping to follow her passion both for the sciences and the arts. Fuller has provided her with a unique opportunity to do just that. Asha hopes to continue to work in theater in the near future and take up diverse roles such as acting, directing, and producing on stage.

David Berberian (Scene Shop Manager) has been the Scene Shop Supervisor since 2001. Before that he worked as a Scenic Carpenter at The Juilliard School in NYC. David is also a local actor and theater producer.

Joanna Brooke (Performer)  is excited to be performing for her first time at Duke in Fuller! Joanna is currently a sophomore, and is studying psychology. She is a Durham local, and has lived in Durham for most of her life. She would like to thank the Fuller team for being so wonderful and welcoming, and her family and friends for always believing in her! She hopes you enjoy the show!

James Clotfelter (Lighting Designer) is committed to the creation of collaborative and socially conscious work for live performance, the built environment, and public space. Working broadly as a designer with a specialization in light, James runs his own architectural lighting design practice and is the co-founder of Studio C Projects, a performance-based, collaborative research studio that investigates the intersections of movement, design, and architecture. His work in live performance has been presented throughout the US and internationally in a myriad of venues ranging from Lincoln Center and the Cairo Opera House to an abandoned Rite Aid and the rural Pennsylvania forest. James has a double MFA in Transdisciplinary Design and Lighting Design from Parsons School of Design in NYC.

Marcy Coe Edenfield (Senior Director, Duke Venue & Production Management) began her career at Duke in 2005 and is currently the Senior Director, Venue and Production Management, part of the Division of Student Affairs. In this new capacity Marcy leads a talented team of 25 full and part time staff and 50 Duke student staff in various events across campus in a wide array of venues. The Venue and Production Management team support the arts venues on campus including Page Auditorium, Reynolds Industries Theater, Sheafer Lab Theater, Griffith Film Theater, Baldwin Auditorium and the Rubenstein Arts Center. Originally from California, she worked extensively with local arts groups in the Bay Area as a lighting designer and stage manager, as well as served as Managing Director for the inaugural years with a resident presenting organization of the Mexican Heritage Plaza in San Jose. Marcy holds a BA in Creative Arts with a minor in Theatrical Design from San Jose State University and a Master of Arts Management from Carnegie Mellon. 

Sean Haggerty (Head Electrician) serves as a full time Senior Production Technician for Duke’s Venue and Production Management department. His passion is in sound design but has worked in many fields in the live entertainment industry over the years. When not working in a theater he can be found outdoors with his dog Hogan or volunteering at an animal sanctuary.

Juliana Kleist-Méndez (Director) Juliana Kleist-Méndez is an Iowa-born Cuban American who creates stories to ignite the imagination. She has dedicated her career to immersive new work projects, resurrecting and creating stories in locations ranging from historic homes to naval training camps. Selected projects include Rain Upon Remembrance (Cornell University); La Hija del Pirata at The Flagship Brewery (La Pirata Productions), and Calafia at Liberty at the U.S.S. Recruit (La Jolla Playhouse’s Without Walls Festival).  Juliana has also worked with new playwrights across the US: Far From Canterbury (Winner of Best Musical: New York International Fringe Festival; and selected for Encores! at The SoHo Playhouse); King Lear: A Radio Play (The Framework Theatre, Chicago); Elvira: The Immigration Play with Si Se Puede Productions (CollaborAction Theatre Company, Chicago); Club Silencio with the Cuban Cultural Center of New York (Manhattan Repertory Theater).  Juliana believes in the power of elevating Latinx voices. During her time in California, she partnered with San Diego Rep, assistant directing on The Humans and directing a reading of Aztec Pirates and the Insignificance of Life on Mars. At UCSD, she has directed An Iliad; Duchess! Duchess! Duchess!(Wagner New Play Festival); Elektra; collaborated on the intimate, immersive Zoom performance, The Gathering, and her live, digital thesis production of Letters from Cuba. She holds a BA in Theater for Social Change from Cornell University and an MFA in Directing from the University of California: San Diego. Para Abuela y Irene.

Aiya (Anika) Kuchukova (Performer) is a senior majoring in math from Duke Kunshan University. Born in Almaty, Kazakhstan, she practiced Oriental dance, Kazakh and Russian folk dances, Kathak and Bharatanatyam as a child and likes to explore different styles of dancing. At Duke she has studied improv dance and is currently learning African dance. Aiya was drawn to Fuller because the novel use of fabric, lighting techniques, and the life of Loïe Fuller resonated with her, and she wanted to be a part of the theater life on campus. She is fascinated by the agency and freedom given to dancers in modern theater, and she is up for experimenting on stage and sharing this unique moment with the audience.

Matt Norman (Assistant Director/Stage Manager) is a sophomore from Weston, Florida majoring in public policy. When not in the booth, Matt can be found golfing, playing NBA 2k, meditating, or otherwise avoiding responsibility. He has some experience with television, public speaking, and visual marketing, though this is his first theater experience since running tech in the 3rd grade. He credits Juliana with helping him return to his long-forgotten roots. He is so excited to explore Loïe’s life and story, and above all, he is beyond excited to see this incredible cast’s hard work come to life.

Alanna Manfredini (Performer) is a sophomore from Sydney, Australia who is majoring in Mechanical Engineering and minoring in Machine Learning & AI. Throughout her life she has loved dance, music, acting and the performing arts, and is thrilled to have Fuller be her first performance at Duke.  After taking Juliana Kleist-Mendez’s Introduction to Acting course, Alanna fell in love with the idea of actors workshopping their own performance and is enthusiastic about marrying acting and dancing with the backstage elements of camera and lighting. She is eager to be a part of this wonderful cast and share the many extraordinary elements of Loïe Fuller’s life through the effects of fabric, light, and sound.

Austin F. Powers AB ’15 (Broadcast Director) is a broadly talented designer and technician for dance and theater. Recent Duke credits include broadcast direction for Medea and Citizen, and lighting design for The Roadkill Club. At Carolina Ballet, video programming for Sleepy Hollow and Frankenstein. At Manbites Dog Theater, sound design for The Moors. A graduate of the Department, Austin is a supervising technician with Duke Theater Operations.

Kristen Quesada (Performer) is a sophomore born and raised in Miami, Florida, majoring in Classical Studies and History. Though working behind the scenes doing stage makeup on productions such as Oklahoma! and The Good Doctor in her senior year of high school, this will be her first time performing on the main stage nine years after her time as Scuttle in The Little Mermaid Jr. Kristen would like to thank Juliana for pushing her beyond her comfort zone since first taking her class last semester, and is so excited for her friends, family, and everyone else to see this show that was born of imagination and dedication.

Thomas Quintas (Production Manager) holds an MFA from CalArts University and specializes in Production and Stage Management. Most recently the Production Manager and Head of the Stage Management program at Indiana University in Bloomington from 2012-2020. Prior to that, Thom worked in Los Angeles in Film and Event Management for Disney, Universal, Warner Brothers, and Panasonic at various trade shows and conventions such as San Diego Comic-con and CES. Thom is also a member of Actors Equity and IATSE.

Mollie Singer (Scenic Designer) The Inseparables (HCC, Scenic Design), My Lord What a Night (Ford’s Theatre, Asst. Prosp), Unknown (Urban Arias, Scenic/Props), Hookman (UMD, Scenic Design) Subject to Change (UMD, Scenic Design), She Kills Monsters (University of Maryland, Scenic Design) Souvenir (Rep Stage, Scenic Design), Lady Day at Emerson’s… (Rep Stage, Scenic Design), True West (Rep Stage, Properties), The Heidi Chronicles (Rep Stage, Properties), Dorian’s Closet (Rep Stage, Properties), What Every Girl Should Know in Rep with Dry Land (Forum Theatre, Properties), H2O (Rep Stage, Properties), Richard III (Chesapeake Shakespeare Co., Properties), American Hero (Rep Stage, Props), Hunting and Gathering (Rep Stage, Scenic Design), The 25th Annual...Spelling Bee (HCC Art’s Collective, Scenic Design/Properties), Sunset Baby (Rep Stage, Props/Asst. Costume Design).  MFA ‘21, University of Maryland.

Erin M. West (Costume Shop Manager/Scenic Draper) has worked as a costume designer, technician, costume shop manager and wardrobe manager for regional and university theatres, and has extensive experience designing, patterning, and building costumes for theatre and dance. Erin holds an MFA in Costume Design from The Mason Gross School of the Arts at Rutgers University and a BA in Studio Art from James Madison University. She has worked with Washington & Lee University, James Madison University, Westminster College, American Dance Festival, Salt Lake Acting Company, Tuacahn Center for the Arts, The Virginia Repertory Dance Company, Oregon Shakespeare Festival, and The American Shakespeare Center, among others.

Rebecca (Becca) Williamson (Performer) is a senior hailing from Sterling, VA, majoring in English and minoring in Economics and Music. Throughout her time at Duke, she has been very involved with a cappella (Out of the Blue) and opera (Duke Opera Theater), but is very excited to reconnect with theater through Fuller. As someone who does not identify as a dancer, Becca wants to thank Juliana for taking a chance on her and supporting her throughout the rehearsal process. She has thoroughly enjoyed the challenge posed by improvisational movement and hopes the audience enjoys this exploration of the life and work of Loïe Fuller!

If you are interested in checked out more about Loïe, may we recommend:

Non-Fiction

Loie Fuller and the Serpentine by Rhonda K. Garelick

Loie Fuller, Goddess of Light by Richard Nelson Current & Marcia Ewing Current

Episode 177: Loie Fuller, The History Chicks Podcast

Fiction

Radiant: The Dancer, The Scientist, and a Friendship Forged in Light by Liz Heinecke

The Dancer (La Danseuse), a film directed by Stéphanie Di Giusto