Ashley Burrage

Ashley Burrage, director of Donoho's production of 'The Little Mermaid,' with one of the set pieces made from recycled grocery bags.

Ashley Burrage is the fine arts department coordinator at The Donoho School. She is directing the school’s production of “The Little Mermaid Jr.” on Friday and Saturday at 7 p.m. at the Oxford Performing Arts Center.

What is your background in theater? I went to the Alabama School of Fine Arts, then I went to Jacksonville State University and received a theater degree. I have traveled all over the world working for different children’s theater companies. I have worked in Japan and Taiwan and every state but seven. About 14 years ago I moved back here, and Donoho has been where I have worked ever since.

What was your job with those various children’s theater companies? I was a director, and I acted on stage as well. We would do a different show each week in a different town, and we had 20-100 kids each week.

Why did you choose to study theater? I was in my first play when I was 9 years old, and it just changed my life. I absolutely love theater. It is all I have ever known.

What was your first play? “The Wizard of Oz.”

Who did you play? I was Dorothy. I auditioned to be a munchkin, and I ended up playing Dorothy.

Why did you choose theater as a career instead of a hobby? I think if you do something you are passionate about, you will never get bored with it. Even though theater is my work, it is not really work because it is something that I love doing. When I hear people talk about hating their jobs, I think, “Why do you that job then? Do something different! Do something you enjoy doing.” It is what I love, and it ended up being what I do all the time.

What is your position at Donoho? I am the fine arts department coordinator. I teach music for PreK through sixth grade, humanities to middle schoolers and speech to high schoolers.

How many students are involved in “The Little Mermaid”? There are 95 students in this play, and they range from 4 years old to 18, but the majority of them are eighth grade and below.

What is unique about this production? All of the set is made out of recycled materials, which was an awesome idea that our art teacher had. … We did not realize how labor-intensive it was going to be.

In the fall, the kids had a big recycling drive. We got mountains of trash — literal mountains of trash — delivered to Donoho, then we started making the set.

We tied up grocery bags into bows and turning them into “coral.” We heatgunned bags to make waves. We used plastic bottles to make Ursula’s cave.

It is all beautiful, but it is very time-consuming; you have to peel the labels off the bottles, then wash them, then cut them. The cave is three sections, each 8 feet-by-5 feet of clear plastic. It is gorgeous, but cutting and hot gluing all of those bottles took forever.

Faith Dorn is a freelance writer in Anniston. Contact her at faith.h.dorn@gmail.com.

 

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