Q&As with Karla Ott, Director of "Leaving Iowa"

Director Karla Ott

Director Karla Ott

What is Leaving Iowa about?
Leaving Iowa is the story of a guy taking his father's ashes back to his hometown, and during the trip he flashes back to old family vacations.  It's a touching story that everyone who has been in the back seat of a station wagon driving to exciting destinations like Hannibal, Missouri and stopping at vegetable stands and obscure museums along the way, will appreciate.

What is your favorite part about directing?  
My favorite part about directing is watching words on a page come to life.   I am always amazed at how actors, set builders, set painters, sound crew, costume people, can take a minimal sketch or a few words and all of a sudden we have created a whole new world to experience.

What is your favorite type of show to direct?
Boy, that's a tough one.  I like them all.  But I think I like best to direct shows that are a bit of a challenge, to the actors, technicians and audience.  I am always amazed at how resourceful and enthusiastic our community is, no matter what type of play we are doing.  An example would be Christmas Carol.  That show has been done a million different ways by a million different people, but you can't beat the basic, awesome script that makes you believe that no matter how rotten you are, you can change and be a better person.  Every year, I cherish that story for the hope of renewal, salvation, if you will.  Leaving Iowa is a bit like that as well...the remorse you feel for maybe what you said or did in the past, and how you have to come to grips with it...and making amends.

What is your favorite facet (directing, acting, building set, etc.) of a show, what do you like to do best?  
Man, another tough question!  I can't say that I love every part of set building, doing costumes, that kind of thing.   That is not my forte.  I guess I like to come up with the scheme and then let everyone else color in the lines and finish the picture.  I like acting, it's cool to be someone else for a while.  I kinda like the idea of knowing exactly how the conversation is going to go, every time.  But I guess I gotta say my favorite part is the background stuff, setting it up, and then letting everyone else take over.  

What is the most challenging part of directing the show?
The most challenging part of directing the show when you put all of the work into getting the best actors, in the right roles, having a killer set, awesome sound cues and lighting, wonderful costumes, and they all are learning their lines, and then you realize that, hey, we are going to have a great show here...does anybody know about it?  Are posters and programs and promotional things getting done?  Are we doing all this work to play to a half empty house because I didn't get around to let people know about it?  That is why I am so glad that you are doing the online stuff and we have a great crew out there promoting the show with posters and promotions.  That is another awesome part of our community.  The enthusiasm from our audiences is always wonderful.  I hope that everyone hears about the show and gets the opportunity to see it.

Why should people come to see this show, and what can they expect?
Wow.  People should come to see this show because we really do have an excellent cast...if you don't come for any other reason, come to see how amazing it is that, once again, we could not have more perfect people cast in each and every part in this play.  There are basically four actors playing the main four characters, and then we have ten other actors playing 22 different roles...ya gotta come just to see that.  And then while you're here, enjoy the rest of the show...  Oh, and if you come on Saturday Night, both Saturdays, we are going to have something extra special for the Intermission Refreshments, Root Beer Floats!  Yum!  But only on Saturday Nights!

I also need to put out a special thank you and congratulations for all your hard work to a few people!

I need to put out a shout out for my assistant director, Sue Curran.  She has been amazing for bouncing ideas off of, as well as helping with the set decorating and watching the script to make sure that the actors are learning their lines.   Diane Freitas has been the Costume Maven, (as well as loaning me her husband and son as actors.)  Eric Freitas and Matthew Spencer built the set (as well as being in the play!)  C. Danielle Deal worked her magic with the painting crew on the set (and being in the play also!)  Quintin Spencer and Dan Hecox are running the sound and light cues.  I hate to point people out because I know I'm going to miss somebody, and if I missed you, I am sorry, but know that I appreciate all of the work that everyone is doing!
     -Karla Ott