In the Spotlight - Victoria Flees '12

In the Spotlight

Victoria Flees '12 starred in Confessions of the Chaff.
Victoria Flees '12 has no trouble getting into character. A double major in theatre and communication studies, she performed the lead role last spring in Confessions of the Chaff, a new play by Saint Mary’s professor Susan Baxter.

Victoria does have trouble putting into words what she felt on opening night. As she prepared to go onstage, she worried—about how the audience would perceive the play, that something would unexpectedly go wrong, that she’d lose her Irish dialect and ruin the atmosphere.

But when the curtain went up, Victoria says she stepped into her character and became lost in the story. “I didn’t know how well the play had gone until I saw my director and the writer after the show. Then I knew all the work had paid off,” she says.

The story line of the play takes on the controversial subject of clergy abuse, the resulting betrayal of trust, and the impact on the lives of those in the parish community. Victoria played Katie Maura Mahn, a character that required Victoria to first master the Irish dialect and then step into uncharted territory. Being a new play, there were no production notes and no reviews of Confessions of the Chaff to add insight into her character.

Instead, Victoria collaborated with Baxter, director Mark Abram-Copenhaver, and fellow cast members to turn herself into Katie. “What I worked on was believing every line I said so that I would better understand how she felt and how she behaves,” says Victoria.

Victoria with actress Glenn Close
The experience was not only a lesson in acting. It became a balancing act for Victoria. She successfully attended to her coursework while meeting a demanding rehearsal schedule.  Victoria is also a member of the student group Thespians Unplugged, works in the costume shop on campus, and works in event catering on the side. 

Her secret to success was staying focused. She kept to a routine of good sleep, healthy eating, and scheduled study time, and got plenty of support from her sister, Elizabeth Flees '09, and good friends to keep her grounded. “My sister, who was a senior at the time, helped me with editing papers. She and my friends even went so far as to bring dinner to the dressing room so I could eat while getting ready for the show and getting into character,” she says.

Victoria’s continued love of the theatre has led her to many similar experiences at Saint Mary’s. She was in last spring’s production of Candide, and she counts Saint Mary’s annual visiting artists program among the most inspiring experiences of her college career.

In April Victoria and three fellow theatre majors prepared a monologue and performed it for award-winning actress Glenn Close, Saint Mary’s 2010 Margaret Hill Endowed Visiting Artist.

Close critiqued their performances, offering instruction and advice and then joined the students for lunch. It was an experience Victoria says couldn’t have happened anywhere but Saint Mary’s, thanks to the faculty and staff who work hard to make them part of her education.

Victoria’s future plans aren’t set in stone. But she is determined to pursue the stage and is considering graduate school. In the meantime, she is looking forward to taking a new course next fall called “auditioning” and putting what she learns to the test.

She’s confident that she’s on the right career path already. “I think it’s important when figuring out what to do with your life that you pay attention to what you enjoy. I love the theatre and frankly, I can’t imagine my life without it.”