Meet the team of THE WATER CHILDREN - Denise Smolarek (Director)

Denise T. Smolarek is thrilled to be back at TCTP, this time in the role of director! She recently performed with Cuckoo’s in FAIRYTALE LIVES OF RUSSIAN GIRLS (Olga/Valentina) and looks forward to assistant directing their upcoming musical TICK, TICK...BOOM! Denise made her directorial debut last fall with ALL MIXED UP (Barely Concealed Productions). Among her favorite acting credits are WEEKEND COMEDY (Peggy) (Oil Lamp Theater), HAMLET (Gertrude) (Transcendent Ensemble) and LOST IN YONKERS (Gert)(Artists Walk Theatre). THE WATER CHILDREN is a simple, funny story that asks a lot of tough, relevant questions. Denise is grateful to Marc for the opportunity to direct it and to the entire cast and creative team for everything they are bringing to it.

Get to know Denise! :

TCTP: In the play, Megan learns about Japanese Mizuko shrines. What is one of your favorite myth/story/belief from another culture or religion?

DS: There’s a lot about the Native American world view that speaks to me, like the saying “We do not inherit the earth from our ancestors, we borrow it from our children.” I love the work of Louise Erdrich, especially The Last Report on the Miracles at Little Big Horse. Her stories, arising from her Ojibwe ancestry, are about spiritual survival amidst an invasive culture of disrespect, ignorance, cruelty and dominance largely in the name of religion. I grew up in Catholic schools and have often wondered about how we kinda got stuck on the ‘multiply and inherit the earth’ part while losing sight of the spiritual message of all being part of the Body of Christ.

TCTP: There are multiple times in The Water Children when Megan is at a loss with what to or where to go. Have you ever felt lost or adrift?

DS: I miss my Mom a lot. It doesn’t happen as often any more, but for a long time after she passed away, I would catch myself reaching for the phone to call and talk to her about something.

TCTP: Every character in this play shares their opinion and gives advice, whether it's asked for or not. Do people often come to you for advice? Or are you the one who seeks advice?

DS: A little of both I guess. I’ve occasionally been surprised and touched by someone I don’t know all that well, confiding concerns that were weighing heavy on their minds. I think sometimes people aren’t looking for you to give them the answers, but just want to be heard. I think that was something Mom was really good at.

TCTP: The play kicks off with Megan taking an acting gig that she is not exactly thrilled about. What’s a terrible job you had to take, theatre related or otherwise?

DS: I worked selling souvenirs for a riverboat tour line one summer because it fit between my school year teaching jobs. I wanted to give the tours, but I guess the captain and first mate did that. Anyway, they stuck me in a little alcove where hardly any tourists ventured to go, and it was cold and boring and didn’t pay enough. But I got to read a lot. Not quite the crisis of conscience that Megan faces.

Come see Denise's work in The Water Children, running June 10 - July 8 at The Vault at Collaboraction Studios in the Flat Iron Arts Building

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