If you ask Taberah Joy Holloway what she prefers, acting or directing, she’ll tell you writing. Holloway, who is directing American History Theater’s most recent production, “The Odd Couple”, has been on the stage, curating what happens on stage, but all of that is encompassed in what she considers her life’s mission, which is “to tell stories so people feel more connected to themselves and each other”.
“The Odd Couple”, to debut at The Veterans Museum at Balboa Park on December 9, is Holloway’s first director’s position. She has also had her time on stage as part of a cast and as a solo act in American History Theater’s “Waiting for MacArthur”. Through her experience in theater, she’s developed some definitive viewpoints.
“I think the hardest lesson, or something I am still attempting to master, is how to keep the forest in mind when there are so many trees.”
Keeping the bigger picture in mind is a large part of functioning as a director, actor and as a writer. As a director, there were some particular words of advice Holloway shared.
“Talk to other experienced and inexperienced directors,” said Holloway. “Both will have valuable advice. Newer directors can better remember what it was like walking into a room full of actors and all of their hopes and expectations. Also, ask for help when you need it.”
And then there are the lessons that Holloway is still learning. Motivating a cast can be daunting. But, according to Holloway, the task is easier when you make sure you give them the creative leeway to bring their own voice to the character, while still providing structure.
“I don't really think you can make someone do anything they are not inclined to do,” said Holloway. “Meaning, in order to get anyone to do anything there has to be some buy-in from them. Fortunately my cast was very motivated. I let them play and experiment. That is something I'm also learning - when and how to impose structure versus letting the creative process unfold.”
Holloway’s step into the director’s corner began with acting, a pastime that she has grown to love.
“I have always loved being on stage. It is very, very easy to be in the moment on stage. There is no past or future there. There is only the moment. It's a delicious place,” said Holloway.
But, when asked what she loves MOST about acting, she concedes that it is all about the people. Her greatest joy, she says, is working with the tech people and the actors who know how to put on a show.
“What I love most about theater is the community that it creates,” said Holloway. “I have made very good friends through theater and learned a lot about myself and how I best work with others in the process.”
But in the end, for Holloway, it all boils down to the stories. The creative process for acting and directing begins with writing, which is Holloway’s first love.
“I consider myself first and foremost a writer,” Holloway said. “Acting and directing has helped my writing immensely. I think more about action than I ever did before, and I think about the concrete ways that action will be carried out.”
Holloway’s director’s debut with “The Odd Couple” will begin on December 9. Shows will go at 7 PM Dec 9, 10 and 16, with two matinee shows on December 11 and 17. We hope to see lots of folks come out to support Holloway as a new director and support the rest of the American History Theater family who makes our theater sector go!