Wednesday, March 5, 2014

An Interview with 'Radium Girls' Director Sara Pagones

By Don Redman

Sara Pagones has been involved in community theater for more than 30 years as an actor, director and even president of the Slidell Little Theatre Board of Directors.

Sara Pagones
Courtesy Paul Wood Photography
She has suffered a concussion, a displaced knee and numerous injuries of a more minor nature while on stage, and yet she keeps coming back for more. Radium Girls, is the sixth play she has directed and the second drama. She's won Ginny's for acting, most recently for Mona in "Best Little Whorehouse in Texas.'' She won directing Ginnys for "The Foreigner'' and "Camelot.'' A veteran journalist, Sara is St. Tammany Parish bureau chief for The New Orleans Advocate. She and her husband, Jim, have three sons, all of whom spent part of their growing-up years at SLT.

We recently asked Sara to take a few moments of his time from directing Radium Girls to tell us more about her experience and background.

Q: What was your earliest involvement in theatre?

PAGONES: My earliest taste of theater came in first grade when I played Mrs. Puddleduck in a school play. I think I was cast because I was loud.

Q: What attracted you to theatre to begin with?

PAGONES: I was attracted to theater then because it I loved make-believe. And still do.

Q: What is it about theatre that holds your interest today?

PAGONES: We spend most of our lives hiding many of our thoughts and feelings, and it might seem like acting is another way to wear a mask. But it actually demands revealing our inner selves. And it's cheaper than therapy.

Q: Tell us five plays you’ll never forget, and why:


1.    The Unsinkable Molly Brown, because it was the first live production I saw, as a preschooler. I was mesmerized.

2.    Equus: first play with nudity and I attended with my parents (as a teenager) and the production had some seats on the stage. Guess where we sat?

3.    Camelot with Richard Burton at the Saenger. He was near the end of his life, but those burning blue eyes -- he made a wonderful disillusioned Arthur.

4.    Wicked on Broadway -- The spectacle and the music.

5.    Lend Me a Tenor, with Steve Cefalu and Allen Little, directed by Jack Cerny. Funniest show I ever saw at SLT.

Q: What play do you think people should see, but they probably haven’t?

PAGONES: Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf -- It's long and makes you so uncomfortable. But what a great vehicle for the actors who get to be George and Martha.

Q: What was the oddest play you ever saw, directed, or starred in?

PAGONES: The Bald Soprano, my first encounter with theater of the absurd. And it was.

Q: What was the best advice you ever received about acting?

PAGONES: Be generous.

 About 'Radium Girls'

Q: Tell us about your vision and inspirations for your production.

PAGONES: Radium Girls is based on true events, and as a journalist, I find that appealing. Norma Rae, Silkwood, and Erin Brokovich come to mind, as shows with similr themes.

Q: What are the challenges to staging this production?

PAGONES: The script  has a very documentary/screenplay feel to it. The challenge is to make that work on stage -- with many different places and quick changes from one place and time to another.

Q: What the audience can expect to see?

PAGONES: The set is minimalistic by necessity. But that bare bones setting, I hope, will allow the audience to focus on the actors. They should come across as real people.



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