Tuesday, July 23, 2024

Northwest Ohio premiere of ‘POTUS’ at BGSU

The title immediately grabs your attention: POTUS: Or, Behind Every Great Dumbass Are Seven Women Trying To Keep Him Alive. But Selina Fillinger’s farcical play isn’t meant to divide on your political beliefs – rather, it’s meant to uplift all different kinds of women, while also aiming to entertain. 

The show follows seven of the most important women in the White House, both from the staff and the president’s personal life, who must risk everything to positively spin and keep quiet the president’s PR nightmare that’s progressing into a global crisis.

The five show run, directed by Jonathan Chambers, features a cast and crew of BGSU students, eager to share this story.

RELATED: Curtain Call: Paul Causman

Maria Fallouh, a senior studying musical theatre at BGSU, was drawn to the show after hearing its full title.

“When you hear POTUS, you don’t think ‘women,’” Fallouh said. “It just sounded like there was a message within it that needed to be said, and I wanted to be a part of that.”

Fallouh plays Jean, White House press secretary, who spins information in favor of the president during her daily briefings. To prepare for the role, Fallouh did dramaturgical work by researching real press secretaries and their motivation for protecting the reputation of the POTUS.

“Whatever the President does, it’s her job to not make him look bad,” Fallouh said. “And that’s a big responsibility: to explain the behaviors especially of a man that you don’t even know if you entirely respect.”

POTUS poster
Photo provided via BGSU.

Part of understanding each character has come from the rehearsal process, which began in late September, and run four hours a day, six days a week. BGSU’s theatre department observes Actors’ Equity Association standards, comparable to a professional environment. 

“It is refreshing beyond words,” Fallouh said. “It gives me hope for my future of working professionally, day job-wise and also in theater. And, it’s just so incredible to work with a cast of all women.”

The irony is not lost on the POTUS team that the director is a man. However, Assistant Director Story Moosa, MFA, 3rd year Ph.D. student in the Department of Theatre & Film, along with the cast, praise Chambers for his ability to listen, empathize and continue to create with them, not just instruct them.

Moosa has been crucial in advising Chambers, helping the production move along and handling behind the scenes needs that people aren’t quick to think about. She feels especially connected to the material because of her own dissertation, which is focused on feminist work created between 2015 to the present day and asserts any work created during this period is a response.

“It’s empowering, being able to see a cast of women who, in theater programs 10 years ago, would’ve been doing these plays that hold up the ideals of a patriarchal society, where women are there to be pretty or the love interest. In this they get to be fully embodied and fully enjoy the process of it.”

RELATED: Theater Notes November 2023

Fallouh loves how well-rounded the characters in the show feel: particularly Jean, who has a queer romantic storyline and is a Middle Eastern woman – both key parts of the character, but not the main focus.

“It’s a beautiful thing to bring queer people to the light,” Fallouh said. “Not only is there little to no queer representation in the theatre community, there’s even less Middle Eastern representation. As an Arab woman, it’s remarkable to incorporate that.”

Moosa and Fallouh emphasize that equal to all the representation and message behind the show is that it’s meant to be a farce. Whatever background or identity you have, this show is meant to make you laugh – and laugh, the POTUS team assures, you will.

“Queer people, nonbinary people, transgender people, women, people of color; we all deserve to experience something that pokes fun, but also says the thing that so many people think to themselves that they’re afraid to bring up,” Moosa said. “No matter who you support, what your politics are, we all have opinions about the men that have been at the forefront because we have not had a woman president. You will find something to take away from it. And if what you take away from it is, ‘I didn’t like it,’ at least you saw it and you can actually have an opinion on it that’s informed by your experience.”

BGSU presents five performances of POTUS at the Thomas B. and Kathleen M. Donnell Theatre, Nov. 16, 17 and 18 at 8 pm, and Nov. 18 and 19 at 2 pm.

Previous article
Next article

Recent Articles