Connecting with Dot:

An Interview with Director Dorothy Fortenberry

One might think the director of a Russian drama would wear self-important designer clothes or chunky glasses and faux-nerdy attire. But Dorothy “Dot” Fortenberry ’02 showed up to our interview sporting a turquoise princess costume and a tiara set in her spunky hair. Well, perhaps she’s not quite that weird: The costume was for the Immediate Gratification Players (IGP) Halloween show. Then again, anyone in IGP has got to be at least a little weird. But what kind of blonde comedienne picks Three Sisters as her directing opus? I found out over Leverett dining hall’s choice fajitas.

The Harvard Crimson: Why Chekov? Why Three Sisters?

Dorothy Fortenberry: It really struck me. It’s an incredibly well constructed play, in which every moment contributes to a complete and subtle and fascinating narrative.... More specifically, it’s about the limitations people put on themselves when they’re at really young ages.


THC: How have you placed limitations on yourself?

DF: [I say to myself], “Okay, I’ve gone through Harvard, I’m a pretty nice person, I’m pretty smart, I should have a meaningful job and a pretty nice husband just waiting around the block for me.” And that’s how the sisters feel. And when life doesn’t work out the way they expected, they don’t know how to cope.

THC: It sounds like a downer. But Chekov is also known for his sense of humor. How do you incorporate that element into a tragedy?

DF: I had a slapstick run of the show this morning where we played the entire thing for laughs for two hours, and it was wonderful.... I think there are moments in the text that are explicitly funny moments... Even the saddest have a twinge of irony.

THC: As a director, do you talk about the characters’ intentions with your actors?

DF: I think it has to start with intentions for this... The text isn’t explicit. The text says, “I would like a cup of tea.” What it means is, “I would like to have sex with you.“

THC: Do you want to leave the audience with a specific message?