The Springfield Community Theatre's fall production, "The Lion in Winter," takes place in 1183 and focuses on the family of Henry II. Zina Black of Reston is the director of the play. She recently started her own production company, Zemfira Stage, which performs two shows a season at the Lyceum in Old Town Alexandria. Black recently discussed the play with the Connection via e-mail.
What is your background?
I grew up in the Los Angeles area. My mother is the one who introduced me to theater. I first began acting at the age of 8. Later, I became interested in the space program, so I took human factors engineering courses in graduate school and got a job working at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena working as a human factors engineer on a program for the U.S. Army. While on a trip to Russia, I met some people who worked on the space station program in Reston. They offered me a job and I was ready for a change, so I accepted and in 1991, I packed up my belongings and moved to Reston. Today, I work at TRW, supporting the Federal Aviation Administration, although TRW was acquired a couple of years ago by Northrop Grumman. But all this time, I continued to be involved in theater, which is truly my passion.
When did you start directing plays?
I started directing plays in 1995. I started producing plays when I first moved here from Los Angeles in 1991, since my work schedule often required that I travel, thus making it almost impossible to perform in a show. Many tasks of a producer, however, can be accomplished using a phone and e-mail. More and more, I was missing being involved in the artistic, creative side of theater and when my work schedule changed, I decided to try directing. It was a new challenge for me that allowed me to integrate both my acting skills, my organizational skills, and my skills at "seeing the big picture."
How, when and why did you get involved with Springfield Community Theatre?
I met Anita Gardiner, SCT president, about 14 years ago when I first moved to this area from Los Angeles. I have worked with her on the NVTA One-Act Play Festival, and through my association with her became interested in working with her "home group" (SCT). This is my first production for SCT. I look forward to working with them again.
What do you like most about performing in the Springfield area?
Springfield is very centrally located to many communities and draws a lot of very talented actors. That has resulted in me being able to cast this show with extremely strong, talented actors. In addition to the wealth of acting talent, the people I am working with both at SCT and at the Immanuel United Methodist Church in Annandale are extremely friendly and easy to work with. When you're putting on a production in which most of the cast, crew and staff all have day jobs, it is vital to have a positive, goal oriented group of people to work with in order to succeed.
What drew you to theater, and what keeps you involved?
Sometime we just need to laugh and be entertained, sometimes we need to take a good hard look at ourselves, and sometime we need to find out who we are. Theater does all of these things — it serves as a mirror for society. It teaches us about other people and other walks of life. These lessons sometimes cause us to change our lives, or just be a little friendlier to someone different from ourselves.
Since it is a live art form, going to the theater creates a shared energy between the audience and the actors that is unique. Being a part of this unique experience is magical. The magic of theater is that you never know exactly what is going to happen next, but what does happen is always wonderful!
I'd like to say how grateful I am for the dedication of everyone involved in "The Lion in Winter." Working full time day jobs, or going to school full time, and rehearsing at night and on weekends can definitely take its toll. Everyone has been very professional, and the result is seen in this high quality, wonderful production.
The Springfield Community Theatre presents "The Lion in Winter" by James Goldman, on Oct. 14-15, 21-23, and 28-29, at Immanuel United Methodist Church, 7901 Heritage Drive in Annandale. Tickets are $15, $13 for seniors and students, and $10 for groups of 10 or more. For tickets, call 703-866-6238. Call 703-978-7650.