Dr. Donna Nudd co-directs disability themed plays overseas

This Fall, you won’t find Dr. Donna Nudd in a classroom. In fact, you’ll have better luck in the United Kingdom.

Dr. Nudd is co-directing two disability-themed plays during her 6 weeks overseas – “The Ugly Girl” and “You Are My Sunshine,” both plays written by her partner Terry Galloway, a cochlear implant recipient and co-founder of the Mickee Faust Club in Tallahassee.

“The Mickee Faust Club is a special and unique part of Tallahassee. Taking a show on the road will allow others to appreciate the humor, insight, and honesty Terry and Donna bring to their writing and performances,” said Steve McDowell, Associate Dean of Academic Affairs.

You Are My Sunshine: A Kind of Love Story is a solo show that follows a deaf writer and performer after she receives a cochlear implant. Terry Galloway’s journey as she learns to hear again will play in Tallahassee for one weekend, September 26th and 27th, before hopping overseas.

Sun hear me now in sunlight copy
Terry Galloway (writer and performer) with Donna Nudd (co-director and dramaturge) as her ear. Photo: Beatrice Queral

The Ugly Girl, A Musical Tragedy in Burlesque boasts seven performers, four American and three British, four of whom are women with disabilities. In November, the musical will be touring four cities in England.

“It’s the most ambitious thing I’ve ever done,” said Nudd. “And the scariest.” Recently, they lost one of the lead performers they had lined up because the run of a show she was in at London’s National Theatre was extended and moved to the West End. “So for the last two weeks, we’ve been auditioning for a possible replacement over Skype,” she laughed. “And it’s challenging, because the actress needs be able to sing, perform realism, Vaudeville and British Musical Hall.”

“Donna’s work has the authenticity you want when it comes to performance,” said Mark Ziegler. “The practice professionally for years is to have “able” actors play characters with impairments.  Dr. Nudd’s work is genuine; the themes are often about our differences, but the actors playing those differences understand the realities, because they have lived it.  Her work is poignant, punctuated with humor, and disarming in how it approaches the human condition.”

Two Florida State alums are playing integral parts in the performances, Ben Gunter (Ph.D. Dramaturgy ‘05) and Diane Wilkins (B.S Communication and English ’80).

Gunter is the composer and major musician for the musical production: “It’s interesting to see how the issues in the play aren’t bound my geography,” he said. “They’re just as real for people in the UK and Australia as they are in the United States.”

“I think the real challenge is to see how musical theater can live up to the standards that were set by Yip Harburg, who wrote the lyrics for the Wizard of Oz: ‘Words make you think. Music makes you feel. A song makes you feel a thought,’” Gunter said.

Diane Wilkins runs a video production company in Tallahassee: Diane Wilkins Productions. She’ll be accompanying the crew in the United Kingdom to capture the performances.

“I’m going to be using two different cameras to capture the performances for archival and grant purposes as well as for inclusion in a feature-length documentary Donna Nudd and I have been developing called Rewired,” said Wilkins.

The international collaboration is by funded by three US grants (FSU’s COFRS, Mid Atlantic Arts Foundation–USArtists International, and Theatre, & Communication Group’s Global Connections: In the Lab) as well as major support from DaDa Fest and Arts Council of England.