Name: Ombra Sandifer
Position in School of Theatre: Director of Production Services
Hometown: Aiken, South Carolina
1. How did you get your start in theatre?
I saw a production of A Tell Tale Heart when I was in middle school, and all I remember about it was the brick wall magically disappearing to reveal the body that had been buried behind it. Of course, now I know that it was a simple scrim trick, but it stuck with me enough to know I wanted to do magic like that! My dad is still shocked to this day that I stuck with my love of theatre and made a career out of it.
2. What is the best performance you have ever seen OR what is the craziest thing that has happened to you during a performance?
In 2010 my husband and I went to a production of Lend Me A Tenor in NY on broadway. As we walked from dinner to the theatre, we saw that the entire block was roped off with police tape. For whatever reason, we completely ignored it, ducked under it, and kept making our way to the theatre. Once we were seated, the house manager made an announcement that the performance would be delayed due to “police activity.” The show started 30 minutes late, and then during intermission another announcement: “The theatre is currently on lockdown by the NYPD so unfortunately no one can leave the theatre during intermission. Enjoy our concessions!” The show ended, and yet another announcement: “We are still in lockdown, please remain seated while a representative from the NYPD makes an announcement.”
At this point, we were fairly nervous, and the NYPD ended up leading us all out of the theatre single file, through a back alley, beneath the theatre next door, and we popped up somewhere on the edge of Times Square. It wasn’t until we got back to our hotel and turned on CNN that we discovered that a bomb had been found right outside of the theatre where Tenor was playing. While that may not be exactly in the spirit of the question, it was certainly the strangest evening in the theatre I’ve ever experienced!
3. If you could have any career outside of theatre, what would it be and why?
I double majored in Speech Communications and Theatre in undergraduate school, and I always thought about becoming a speech therapist. Watching The King’s Speech almost made me quit everything and go back to school to do just that! Communication is so powerful, and when I see young kids struggle with it, I instinctually want to help them. I also had an incredible speech professor in graduate school who helped me a tremendous amount especially in speaking in front of large audiences, and I feel like I owe her a lot for my ability to engage people when teaching or speaking.
4. What inspires you in your free time/ what do you do for fun?
Traveling is my favorite thing to do, and it’s also the thing that I never have enough time to do nearly as much as I’d like! I also enjoy photography, so even if I don’t have time to get out of town and travel, I really enjoy exploring new places nearby with my camera. I love photography because it can be a very peaceful and solitary way to spend time, and it can also be something that captures crazy and wonderful moments with family and friends. And pets. Lots of pets.
5. What brought you to Florida State?
Love! My husband has worked here for many years in the School of Dance, and he is the person who sent me this job ad while I was freelancing. The minute I interviewed, I knew I would love it here, and so the combination of the amazing job and the opportunity to live in the same town as my husband was too good to pass up.
6. If you could give an aspiring theatre artist any piece of advice, what would it be?
Having a plan is a wonderful thing; I had a plan when I was in my early twenties. And I can honestly say that where I am now was NOT in that plan. And I couldn’t be happier! So I suppose I’d encourage aspiring theatre artists to keep themselves open to new and unexpected opportunities, and to remember that some of those opportunities are going tohave to come from you. Don’t wait around for someone else to give you a chance!
7. Wild Card Question: If you were a movie character, who would you be and why?
Vivian (Lily Tomlin) in I Heart Huckabees. I mean, who wouldn’t want to be an existential detective?