By day, veterinarian Dr. Natty Davidson treats small animals including dogs and cats, as well as the occasional rodent, hamster, and even rat. By night however, she joins the “rats in the sewer” as a long-time Mickee Faust Club “Faustkateer.”
One of Davidson’s favorite skits from her 19 years with Mickee Faust’s arts/activist community theater called upon her skills as a vet to play the part of a wolf.
“The director wanted me to do that because I know how dogs act, so I got to put my spin on husbandry and animal behavior with wolves in a pack,” says Davidson. “I helped castmates with grinning motions and how to arch your back and walk onstage. It was cool to bring that knowledge, and nothing I thought I would ever have to use onstage.”
Since 2003, Davidson has been an active member of Mickee Faust’s local community theater located in the heart of Railroad Square Art Park. Davidson first experienced the Queer as Faust Cabaret as an audience member and joined the cast onstage soon after.
This year’s 15th annual Cabaret runs from June 23 through July 2 as a part of the “Queer as Faust Festival” to celebrate Pride month.
“Tallahassee doesn’t have as big of an LGBTQ voice — don’t get me wrong we’re here— but our scene is not as big as other places,” says Davidson. “Mickee Faust takes on a big responsibility to let people know that we’re here. We’re spreading that voice of happiness, equality, and acceptance which is important not only during Pride month but all year round.”
Years ago, Davidson never envisioned she’d be under the theater lights. She had participated in high school theater but was always the person lending a helping hand backstage. When she attended Florida State University for college, she originally thought she’d become a medical doctor.
It was through her experiences with Faust that she realized she wanted to go into veterinary medicine. Davidson remembers sitting in the back of the theater studying for her GRE exams and the outpouring of support from the Faust community that helped her along the way.
She met her wife at Faust and is continually inspired by the writers, directors, and fellow actors she works with daily. During Pride Month, Davidson can be seen in her rainbow cape skateboarding to and from the theater.
“Faust has taught me so much about understanding other people and that has made me a better person,” says Davidson. “Everyone says you should walk a mile in someone else’s shoes. Faust really puts you in that perspective to learn and understand issues that other people might be going through.”
While the Mickee Faust Club is known for its outlandish and humorous skits and parodies, Davidson says it’s also an important space for exploring serious political and social themes.
One of Davidson’s most memorable productions cast her as a voice inside the head of one of her fellow Faustkateers who wrote a piece about their mobility and communication struggles living with cerebral palsy.
Davidson enjoys this personal approach to the creative process at Faust. Each original work is built from the ground up thanks to the volunteers that make up the Faustkateer team. Davison says she donates up to 10 hours a week for rehearsals, not including shopping for costumes and creating sets and props.
“A two-minute skit can be something that was two years in the making,” notes Davidson.
Another main difference between Mickee Faust and the traditional theater model is that anyone is invited to attend and contribute to directors’ and writers’ meetings. Davidson says all parts of the process are advertised as open to any creative who has an idea for a stage skit, play, or production, and wants to see their vision come to life onstage.
She cautions actors more familiar with traditional theater practices to not be intimidated by Faust, but to embrace the collaborative process.
Davidson has learned many new skills in lighting, writing, and costuming during her time as a Faustkateer, and says that if an actor is willing to put in the work and take responsibility for their roles, anyone can flourish in this community theater.
“If it’s not in your wheelhouse, there’s someone who can teach you, and then you can teach someone else,” says Davidson. “This is people-run. We get donations, but if it wasn’t for the time we put in as Fauskateers, there wouldn’t be any shows.”
Davidson says any nerves or butterflies in her stomach disappear once she steps out onstage. She has rolled downstairs in a shark costume shooting silly string out of her gaping maw and thrown mud on herself for a rousing re-telling of a break-up fight.
As soon as she hears the first laugh or acknowledgment from the audience, she gets a rush of serotonin and is ready to entertain.
“It feels like you’re flying,” says Davidson. “I hope people understand that Faust is a magical place. It’s a place where you can be yourself and feel wanted and included regardless of your background or your history. We are a place where if you feel lost, you can be found.”
Learn More about the Mickee Faust Club
Learn More about the Queer as Faust XV Cabaret
Read this article on the Tallahassee Democrat website