Directing Thesis Interview: 'For Molly'

BY Luz Lorenzana Twigg, June 28, 2021

Written by Ciara Ní Chuirc '21 and Tatiana Kouguell-Hoell '21

Produced by Ali Daylami


Camille Z. Hayes '21 (Directing) explores the extraordinary four-decade relationship between the poet Mary Oliver and the photographer Molly Malone Cook in her Director's Thesis.

Why did you decide to do this particular production for your thesis project?


I found out who Mary Oliver was upon the announcement of her death. As soon as I started researching Mary’s life, I quickly discovered that she had been in a romantic partnership with the photographer, Molly Malone Cook, for over 40 years. I was floored, and I knew immediately that I wanted to create a piece about them. 



What do you hope the audience will get out of the performance?


I hope audience members will allow the piece to work its magic on them. There is a beautiful emotional landscape to be found in For Molly, and I hope that LGBTQ+ audience members, especially, will see themselves and their lives reflected in the play.



What was the most exciting part of the process?


I had the opportunity to work with a brilliant creative team. Tatiana Kouguell-Hoell and Ciara Ni Chuirc wrote the For Molly script with such care, specificity, and focus. Diana Fathi performed thorough research on Mary and Molly’s life together creating a comprehensive timeline that our team referred to again and again. Our designers, Isabel Nelson, Katie Whitemore, Carla Posada, Cristina (Cha) Ramos, and Matt Coggins brought the world of the play to life with their stunning and intricate designs. Finally, Jianqiao Lu, our Production Stage Manager, our Producer, Ali Daylami, and our Company Manager, Dani Turner worked tirelessly to make the production possible. 



What was the biggest challenge?


Adhering to COVID-19 safety protocol whilst rehearsing and performing proved to be challenging. However, we were fortunate to have the support and guidance of the Columbia Production staff.

What has been a crucial lesson from your training?


As a director, you set the tone for the entire process. Decide what kind of environment you want to create, and trust your instincts. 



Did anything surprise you about the process of putting up this production?


Even with rigorous COVID-19 protocols in place, there was so much joy and laughter to be found in our rehearsal and performance process. 



What is your philosophy for directing?


Through my work I aim to honor and highlight the LGBTQ+ experience by presenting powerful, authentic, and nuanced representations of queer women. This mission inspires and touches every aspect of my artistic work. Also, find joy in your process!



Where do you see yourself in five years? 


Creating work with generous, kind, and extraordinary people. I also hope to be working on new projects and entering into fruitful collaborations. 

June 24 - July 3

Directing Thesis: For Molly

Online 12:00 AM

Columbia University School of the Arts Theatre Program is proud to present For Molly, an original play by Ciara Ní Chuirc '21 and Tatiana Kouguell-Hoell '21, and directed by Camille Z. Hayes '21.

read more