Rush Ours: The eclectic 'saint' of Barboursville
If one word could describe Mendy St. Ours, it would be "eclectic." An actress, mother, and bus driver for University Transit Service, St. Ours has decided to add to her list of accomplishments this summer by honing her directing skills at the ruins in Barboursville. She's the director of A Midsummer Night's Dream, which opens July 22.
"It's going really well," says St. Ours. "I love the diversity of the cast members. We have some seasoned actors, a few fresh graduates from James Madison University, and six children performing."
At 24, she's already a veteran of the local theatrical scene, having most recently played the angel in Live Arts' performance of Angels in America.
"The most memorable theatrical performance I've ever participated in," St. Ours calls Angels, "mainly because I got to fly across the stage."
Such hi-jinks must have impressed Tracey Seiger, the producer of A Midsummer Night's Dream, when she tapped St. Ours to direct the play in Barboursville four weekends this summer [see "Day-by-Day" for times and prices]. When she's not zooming around theaters, St. Ours is jetting across the country. She recently traveled to Honolulu to compete in the National Society of Arts & Letters' comedic acting competition.
"When I left for Hawaii," she says, "I told my family to be prepared, because if I returned with the top prize, they'd have to refer to me as the 'funniest person in the world'."
She took fourth place overall, and first among all female entrants. "It's quite an honor," says Corky Sablinsky, president of the Virginia and North Carolina chapter of the National Society of Arts & Letters. "And she deserves it."
What's the secret to her success? "The best thing an actor has going for her is a vivid specific imagination," says St. Ours. "I was an only child raised on a 600-acre farm in the middle of nowhere, south-central Virginia. There was nothing else to entertain me but my own fancies."
For the rest of the summer, St. Ours' feet will be planted firmly on the ground. The actress, who already has a four-year-old stepson, Aesop, is expecting another boy in September.
That's not to say she won't remain active in Charlottesville. She's currently working with her husband, Johnny St. Ours, and brother-in-law, Philip St. Ours, on several short films and commercials and recently participated in a UTS bus-driving competition.
"I didn't do much on accuracy, but killed on speed," she says.
Mendy St. Ours
PHOTO BY JEN FARIELLO #