Señora Dory: Director of Spring Play Lives Life to Its Fullest


Clare Ravizza, Staff Writer, Advanced Journalism

Señora Dory–Spanish teacher, student government adviser, and so much more at NDA–is diving into yet another area in the Notre Dame community: theatre. For the second year, Dory will be directing NDA’s spring play. But this year, she anticipates the experience to be entirely new.

“It’s such a different show than last year,” said Dory of this year’s play, Divine Stella Devine.  “Last year’s show [Mutually Assured Destruction] was just made up of ten separate scenes and the actors were only with their brother or sister. In this show, most of the characters are onstage almost the whole time, interacting with each other the whole time.”

Dory also anticipates more of a challenge directing this show because of the acting demands in it.

“One person’s exiting a door and the other has to enter right away. It’s very fast-paced, funny, with a lot of miscommunication… The set is going to be bigger, the costumes are fun and over the top. I think the acting is going to be fun and over-the-top too,” explained Dory.

“That’s going to be my challenge for the actors: just go overboard and have a lot of fun. This is going to be a bigger production,” said Dory. And, despite the challenge, she’s “really, really excited for it.”

“It’s been fun to add [theatre] into my life. I enjoy teaching at Notre Dame so much, but I wanted something new and this has been really, really fulfilling,” said the teacher.

Dory was heavily involved in theatre during her high school years, even spending a summer in Vail, Colorado, backstage directing a group of fifty munchkins for a production of The Wizard of Oz.

After “living and breathing theatre for four years in high school,” Dory explained that, “to get back into it now, in my later thirties, is just exactly what I needed to do. I really love it.”

But Dory hasn’t been twiddling her thumbs in the meantime. Since high school, in addition to graduate school and teaching, Dory and her husband have traveled the world.

“My husband and I are crazy travelers. When we met, that was something that brought us together,” explained Dory. “We wanted to travel after we finished undergrad [at UW-Milwaukee] because we were getting pretty serious with one another.”

Just as they were finishing up at UW-Milwaukee, Dory’s now father-in-law reached out to them with a proposition.

“His father lived out in San Diego on a forty-foot boat… He wanted to get the boat from San Diego to the East Coast to sell it, so he basically asked us to crew with him,” recalled Dory.

They agreed, spent a month in San Diego preparing the boat, and then set off on a journey that would take them the next six and a half months.

“We would just go port to port through Mexico and Central America,” said Dory of the trip. “We spent around 60 days in Mexico, another 60 days in Central America. We met a ton of fun people. It was amazing.”

For Dory, the trip also held the benefit of allowing her to solidify her Spanish.

“I studied abroad my junior year in Spain, but then to do such an extensive trip in Latin America and really improve my skills was great,” Dory explained.

Though they had planned to take the boat all the way to Florida, Dory and her fiancé disembarked in Belize.

“It was May, and we were getting married in August, so it was like, ‘Okay. Time to go home,’” said Dory. “We flew back, got married, and since then we’ve taken a big trip almost every summer. We spend the month of June traveling and go to Ireland over Christmas.”

Since then, Dory and her husband have traveled to over 30 countries.

“We’re great travel buddies,” said Dory of her husband and herself. “It’s not like vacations, it’s travel. There’s a difference to us. A vacation is sitting on the beach, and the travel that we do is intense, hard and rewarding. And we do sit on beaches sometimes. It’s not all work.”

In addition to traveling during the summers, Dory has continually volunteered up north each summer at Camp Daniel.

“Camp Daniel is a summer camp for people with disabilities,” explained Dory. “It’s a really, really special place.”

Dory has been volunteering at Camp Daniel each summer with her dad for the past 11 years. She and her family have a special connection to the camp and its goals.

“My parents are friends of the Piantines through church. They had a son named Daniel who died at 21. He had severe disabilities. He was in an iron lung back when they used to do that.”

Though Daniel died at a young age, his brother, Tony Jr., and his wife started a camp for people with disabilities in Daniel’s memory.

“It’s really a happy, wonderful place. Volunteering there, I get stretched a lot and challenged. Every summer I look at my dad and we say, ‘Oh, are we gonna do it again next year?’ because we’re so exhausted by the end of the week, but we always go back. It’s super, super special.”

Dory has also tried to unite Camp Daniel and the Notre Dame community over the past several years. Dory encourages former NDA students to volunteer at the Camp, and it was also the focus of Spring Week a few years ago.

“We raised a lot of money for Camp Daniel, so that was special to me. That whole week was all about Camp Daniel, and my friends from Camp came and spoke. It was super, super special,” explained Dory.   

As rehearsals for the play begin this week, Dory said that she is “very, very excited” to dive in again. And if her past is any indication, Dory will approach directing the spring play with the same passion, excitement and dedication that she brings to all the many other things she does for NDA, Camp Daniel and beyond.