Domeka Parker is founder and artistic director of Deep End Theater in Portland Oregon USA. She is the creator of many highly acclaimed and award winning improvised works, and the creator of Sound Improv, a unique approach to improvisational theatre that is grounded in strong acting and true discovery. Domeka is a fearless advocate for women in improv, a glowing example of fearlessness, passion and drive. She is intensely devoted to the art and craft of improvisational theatre and brings to it a creativity and courage that is unparalleled.
Tell us a bit about your show and the idea behind it, and why/how it excites you.
I created Mothers out of a desire to stage a reflection of motherhood through a framework of honesty. And not only motherhood, but also our relationships with our own mothers. All the strife we cannot speak of as mothers, all the resentment we feel toward our own, all the intimate magical joy of kissing a sleeping toddler's sweaty head, of smelling behind their ears, or visiting our elderly mother in her last days. There is so much to be said about what we feel, so much we often don't say. I believe it is our responsibility to shed light on the human experience with as much courage as we can muster. Motherhood, and our experience with the mothers of our lives, is one of those things we are too careful to be honest about. Hurt feeling and assumptions and judgement all wait in the hallway just outside the door of our truth. So we tend to keep a lot of it inside. I wanted to let it out. Not just for me, though there was catharsis in that, but to give the audience permission to feel all the feels out loud. And they did. And I therefore mount this production year after year. It always fills the theatre with laughter and tears. What more could a director want? Maybe a muffin?
What show other than your own are you most excited to see? Why?
Don't Watch This Show Alone. I am compelled by a show that takes the audience on a road less traveled. Fear, dread, anxiety, suspense, these are things that deserve exploration and are often over-looked in improvised theatre because suspense doesn't come QUICK, you have to earn it. I am excited to see that done.
What's the best thing about improv?
Improv is impermanent, incomplete and imperfect, learning it and loving it gives us a gift of presence and purpose that is hard to find in a whirlwind world.
How would you describe your personal improv style?
I think of myself as an actress who specialises in improvisational theatre. I use an approach I created called Sound Improv which is grounded and built on strong acting, discovery over invention and curiosity over judgement. My style is lean on gimmick and fat in meaning.
What's going on in the improv world where you are?
We are bursting at the seams with creativity and growth in Portland presently. Our city is ALIVE with improv. Several improv companies and theatres, all doing interesting stuff.
What's going to be the NEXT BIG THING in improv?
Improv is like a language, always changing, but only if we let it. Recently it's gotten stuck, it's being held hostage; too much emulating, not enough innovating. I think the next big thing is going to be a shift toward allowing a shift, allowing for growth and change.
Any Improv/Theatre/Comedy heroes?
My parents, Victoria Pohl and Scott Parker, improv geniuses before anyone knew what improv was. I grew up at their shows and rehearsals. They are my improv heroes.
What do you wish you were eating right now?
Domeka directs Mothers at BATS Theatre, 8pm Wednesday 18 October. Our full programme runs 17-21 October, and tickets are on sale now!