Profile: Dana J. Ferguson

Dana

Dana J. Ferguson (courtesy of danajferguson.com)

How long have you been involved in Theatre?
For as long as I can remember!

What inspired you to become involved?
My mother was a performer and did a number of projects while she was pregnant with me – I figure something rubbed off! But I decided to seriously pursue it as a career when I saw Romeo and Juliet performed live in England while on a summer school trip.  That performance changed my life and I knew it was something I had to do.

In what capacity (ies) do you participate in Theatre?
Actor, Assistant Stage Manager, Wardrobe Mistress, Set Design – and in any other way I can help out, I do!

Dana as Lizzie in "Stamping, Shouting and Singing Home" (courtesy of danajferguson.com)

Can you list the productions that you have participated in over the years?
I’ve been involved in a number of different productions.

2010,  Her (and all other Bahamian characters), DAT BAHAMIAN T’ING, Yellowtale Theatre Company, Robin Belfield
2010,  Hermia, A MIDSUMMER NIGHT’S DREAM, Ringplay Productions, Patti-Anne Ali
2009, Ariel, THE TEMPEST, Ringplay Productions , Patti-Anne Ali & Craig Pinder
2009, Narrator, HEAVEN’S GROCERY STORE, World Methodist Conference
2008, Lizzie Walker, STAMPING, SHOUTING AND SINGING HOME, Forest Forge Theatre & Nuffield Theatre, Russ Tunney
2008, Negro Woman, Matron, A STREETCAR NAMED DESIRE, Nuffield Theatre, Patrick Sandford
2007, Wendy, PETER PAN, Nuffield Theatre, Patrick Sandford
2007, Woman In The Green Dress (Lead)/All Bahamian Roles, THAT BAHAMIAN T’ING, Nuffield Theatre & Yellow Tale Theatre, Robin Belfield
2007,  Ariel [The Tempest], WILL AT THE WEALD, The Company Presents, Patrick Sandford
2007,  Phoebe [As You Like It], WILL AT THE WEALD, The Company Presents, Robin Belfield
2006, Woman In The Green Dress (Lead)/All Bahamian Roles, DAT BAHAMIAN T’ING, Forest Arts/Nuffield Theatre, Robin Belfield
2006, Pimple, SHE STOOPS TO CONQUERBristol Old Vic Theatre School, Chris Harris
2006, Dorinda, THE BEAUX’ STRATAGEM, Bristol Old Vic Theatre School, Chris Harris
2006, Lady Hunstanton, A WOMAN OF NO IMPORTANCE, Bristol Old Vic Theatre School, Bonnie Hurren
2006, Cecily Cardew, THE IMPORTANCE OF BEING ERNEST, Bristol Old Vic Theatre School, Bonnie Hurren
2006, Duchess Eleanor [Henvy VI], UNEASY LIES THE HEAD THAT WEARS THE CROWN, Bristol Old Vic Theatre School, Sonia Fraser
2005, Titania, A MIDSUMMER NIGHT’S DREAM, Bristol Old Vic Theatre School, David Collins
2005, Lady [The Lady and The Lion], GRIMM’S FAIRY TALES , Bristol Old Vic Theatre School, Elwyn Johnson
Wendy

Peter and Wendy (courtesy of danajferguson.com)

What are some of your most memorable moments in Theatre?
A Good Memory – I once worked with a young lady who was extremely self-concious about her work, which was ludicrous because she’s really very good!  She asked me to help coach her, so I did – and when she hit the stage for opening night, she was electric.  The audience loved her and it made me feel good to know that I was able to help her make that happen.

A Bad Memory – I get really upset working with people who don’t take the job seriously.  Unless you’re a one-man show, you are part of an ensemble and are accounable to the rest of the team so you need to do your part in making the scene/show etc work.  Failure to commit to memorising lines in a timely fashion or even showing up to set on time frustrates the entire process. I once worked with a guy who sang his praises about being a committed artist and true professional – but then he came on set to shoot the scenes and was duller than dishwater!  Totally flat, lackluster performance… he couldn’t put his money where his mouth was.  Suffice it to say, he never got work with that director again.  That was a painful day on set, let me tell ya!

Hermia in love. (from left to right, Matthew Wildgoose, Dana and Nicole Fair, courtesy of danajferguson.com)

How do you feel about Theatre in The Bahamas? What are its weak and strong points? How active is it? How can we make it better?
I’d love for the cultural arts in the Bahamas to be respected and revered.  To inspire the young and young at heart.  Art should never be censored – but unfortunately, the Christian Council plays a role in regulating Bahamian art, resulting in many productions losing out on the opportunity to live, breathe and exist in spite of which social or religious faction that work  may offend.  Art should spark discussion and debate. It should be taken seriously.  The Bahamas is entrenched with deep and meaningful history that is lost on today’s youth.  The development of an arts council to aid in promoting and protecting art and the artist would go a long way in preserving and promoting Bahamian cultural arts both here and abroad.  Bahamain culture is more than Junkanoo.  It’s storytelling and photography, painting and straw work, music and dance.  It’s theatre and design, cinematic creations with Bahamian directors, actors and singers who add something to their creations that no other nationality can replicate. Instead of working together to promote Bahamian talent, we have people that deliberately put stumbling blocks in the way of young directors and actors etc in an effort to frustrate their efforts to develop our culture.  Until we learn to work together, theatre will continue to be sporadic.

What do you do to prepare for a part?
The process varies depending on the project but I always start with reading the entire script a few times.  Then I start paying attention to my character and the relationships they have with other characters in the play .  But with every play, I always return to the script – sometimes you get stuck thinking a certain way but re-reading the text will help you unravel the many layers to get to the truth.  And at the end of the day, an actor should always be truthful to the script and the character.  That makes for the best performances.

Any advice for those who want to get involved in Theatre in any capacity?
There are so many aspects of theatre that one can get involved in.  For those who are shy, some of the most important work happens behind the scenes – lights, sound, costumes, stage managing, script doctor…the list is endless.  Be punctual – Bahamian time does NOT count.  And over-communicate with your director and colleagues.

Who were your mentors in Theatre?
My mother .  She’s one of the best performers I’ve ever had the pleasure to know.

How do you see your future in Bahamian Theatre?
I’m happy to be involved as much as I possibly can for as long as I can.

What is your favorite Bahamian play?
Men Talk was pretty funny – I remember seeing it years ago with some of the women in my family and we had a grand ol’ time!  Light was also very good – it was one of the first plays I watched when I returned to Nassau from Britain.  Then there is the token go-to classics, like woman Take Two.

Her

Dana as Her in "Dat Bahamian Ting" (courtesy of danajferguson.com)

In your years as an actor, have you seen the government support the arts in a tangible way?
Yes – Junkanoo.  But that was many, MANY years in the making.  Theatre has a long way to go yet to compete with Junkanoo.

What role, if any, should the government play in not just theatre but the arts as a whole?
It would be wonderful for the government to willingly assist in establishing an independent council that could aid with financing the numerous projects floating around at the moment.  I’ve had the pleasure of reading quite a few scripts that are really very good, but without the financial backing or support, those scripts will never see the light of day.  And that would be a tragedy for Bahamina artists, because there are some truly talented people in this little country.

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