4 Questions with Director Rachel Zake

Millwood Outpost by Tom Hayes opens on Friday, March 18 and runs through April 2. Directed by Rachel Zake, this new drama features Joe Milan, August Scarpelli, Zach Palumbo, Sean Seibert, Quin Johnson, Tom Hayes, and Juliette Regnier. 

Thanks to Rachel for this preview!
As a director, what do you find interesting, engaging, and/or challenging about working on Millwood Outpost?
When I first read the script I loved how Tom combined realism and mysticism. Particularly, the idea of the storm bearing down and creating a haunting background for the mounting tensions between the characters stood out to me. I had a clear vision of how set, lights, and sound could come together to support the written word. I knew it would be a challenge to mesh all elements in a space where we see so clearly each small moment. I think Tom’s vision and distinct word choice drew me to the script and helped to paint the picture.
What kind of experience is the audience in for with this play?
It is certainly different than other shows that are out there! Set in Ohio, this show is gritty and real. The emotions are striking and the conflict is relatable, even for those who aren’t ODOT workers. The struggle between old and new, tradition and progress is one that is familiar. But, we don’t usually see it up close, in a pressure cooker situation, provoked by a mysterious fog. As the audience has the privilege of sitting up close to the action, I think they will feel immediately drawn in by the characters and their journeys.
What can you tell us about the cast and the experience of working with them on this production so far?
Before we got started I was already excited to work with this distinguished group of actors. From their individual auditions I knew they would quickly bond and create a dynamic fit to the show, which they did. Their individual strengths are showcased, while blending together as an ensemble. With an ensemble-based show it is vital that each person allows their scene partner(s) to have their moments while enhancing the show overall. That is exactly what this cast has done and continues to do through the rehearsal process.
As a playwright yourself, what do you think is the appeal of a new work like this, for the creative people working on the show and for audiences?
It’s a privilege anytime you can work directly with a playwright and ask questions, allowing you to get deeper into the work. There are always moments in the writer’s head that don’t make it to the paper. I have had those moments myself. Having Tom in the room and including him in the discussion was paramount to revealing how deep the show could go for the actors and me. For audiences, I think being a part of something new is always exciting. They are the first to see art brought to life. They are the first to react, to become engaged with the full process. New beginnings are beautiful and full of challenges. Working together and then presenting it to an audience is rewarding and we hope the audience feels the same!