Upon arriving in Tallahassee, Donna Marie Nudd took a teaching position in the department of communications at Florida State University, and alongside her wife and artistic partner Terry Galloway, began the venture that would become Mickee Faust, an academy for the “really” dramatic arts.
Fast-forward 30 years and the group is thriving at their “clubhouse” (a tongue and cheek play on the famous Mickey Mouse Club) location in Railroad Square, with a loyal core group, new members being added every year, and a wide range of repertory. As Executive Director, Nudd says the clubhouse itself has become her largest artistic endeavor.
Working with grant dollars awarded to make the stage, office, and backyard accessible for company members with disabilities, anonymous donations of curtains and lights have also helped to give the space added vitality.
“There’s a delight in working in this very diverse company with very diverse voices,” says Nudd. “As the writers write the pieces and what’s on their mind, people give feedback and watch it develop in their performance. Any theater company has its own tensions, whether they’re artistic or political, and I’m very proud of the way Faust works those out.”
The youngest of six, Nudd was a fairly shy child. With the encouragement of her mother, she entered speech competitions at school; often practicing her speeches while nestled in the treetops of her backyard.
From that time on, she fell in love with speech and performance and earned a BA in speech communications, an MA in theater arts, and a Ph.D. in communication studies.
Of her favorite courses to teach in speech and performance, she loves the public speaking classes she teaches at FSU’s London satellite campus. Firstyear students will go on assignment to the British Museum, choose an artifact to research, and then give an informative speech about it for the class. Nudd says this exercise also provides some humor due to the dynamic nature of the audience, as the students giving speeches often draw crowds of tourists looking to them as guides.
“The trick is using the environment,” smiles Nudd. “It’s fun too because in public speaking students are writing their own speeches, so they’re writing about what they’re passionate about. And civically, it’s important.”
Nudd met her partner Galloway at the University of Texas at Austin, and together, they’ve enjoyed many successes in writing and performances on both a national andinternational scale. Nudd believes in the duty of academics to give back to the community and fervently works to do just that with Mickee Faust. Nudd shares this belief withher wife and is inspired by Galloway’s ability to push herself and others, and the ability of performance to connect with communities.
“We both genuinely believe in alternative theater and find it essential for communities to have these raw spaces to develop art,” says Nudd.
“Those kinds of rough, crunchy spaces are not as intimidating. They can be incredibly welcoming to the performers and give the audience a sense that you’re enjoying something fun.” Given the wide spectrum of ages, orientations, and abilities of the company members, Nudd says the assortment of ideas the group brings lends itself well to the cabaret format that Mickee Faust often utilizes. Nudd admits that negotiations aren’t always easy, but the continual conversations always lead to innovations and improvements. For example, the group decided to caption the skits of one company member in order to give added clarity to their lines. The company member countered with a question as to why they couldn’t caption all the skits — Nudd, Galloway, and the group agreed, and eventually this revelation lead to an unexpected outcome.
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