New York-based director and producer Estefanía Fadul just fulfilled her lifetime dream of directing a musical. Her last project for Repertorio concluded on Jul. 19 and involved taking a zarzuela (or centuries’ old-Spanish comedic opera) and bringing it to modern day audiences. The project El Laurel de Apolo gave Fadul the opportunity to work with choreographers and composers for the first time.
Fadul was born in Colombia and raised in New Hampshire, and a passion for theatre has been a constant in her life since childhood. She recalled that she charged 50 cents for every show that she wrote, directed, and acted out for her family. Hip Latina interviewed Fadul to find out how it felt to launch her directing career, fulfilling her dream of working on a musical, and what’s next on her wish list.
Hip Latina: You graduated from Vassar College in 2010. Did a liberal arts education influence your career?
Estefanía Fadul: Definitely. I specifically decided against a conservatory-style program. That was definitely a conscious decision and I think it made me a more well-rounded theatre artist.
HL: What aspect of Vassar College in particular greatly influenced you as a theatre artist?
EF: The student-run ensemble that I was a part of. There was a tight-knit group of women and we were doing plays either by women or with very three-dimensional female characters. That aspect of collaboration with something you’re passionate about with a group of collaborators that you’re really passionate about is something that influences me to this day.
HL: You’ve said before that you think it’s important for budding theatre directors to create and rely on their own work. Was that your experience starting out in the industry?
EF: When I graduated from Vassar, one of my close collaborators in college and I founded a peer company in New York. We felt it was adding to the cultural discourse in ways that we were not finding with other opportunities for artists just starting out. I think that’s a great way to start.
HL: The production company that you co-founded out of college is now the established Pleiades Production. How do you and the rest of your team see this project moving forward?
EF: Up until the past year, we were actively creating work. Since then, we’ve been on hiatus. We need to figure out where the company is heading next. What we’re interested in is connecting what we’re doing theatrically to our community in some way.
HL: You earned the Van Lier Directing Fellowship at Repertorio. As part of the program, you created two professional theater productions over the span of two years. What was the most challenging aspect of the first production, ghosts of mexico, part one by Matthew Paul Olmos?
EF: [Laughs] Well, there’s one moment where the old police chief comes back to speak with the main character. There’s a moment in which he takes his head off in the stage direction. One of the people at Repertorio had seen a magician doing a trick on CNN where basically he disappeared in his coat but it looked like his head had fallen off. Our costume designer was a huge part in pulling this off.
HL: Your second project as part of this fellowship was El Laurel de Apolo. What themes from this Spanish old-age text and musical did you find relevant for today?
EF: In terms of Dafne and Apolo, he is so focused on chasing her and getting the girl despite the fact that she clearly does not want it. That was something that to me felt so relevant with the topic, very much in the news today, of no means no. I think in many ways the story about Dafne and Apolo is seen as Apolo’s story. I was very interested in this idea of it actually being Dafne’s story and her being able to reclaim her history.