New play development is a crucible in which ideas are lit up by the fire of necessity. Ideas that begin as sounds and images in a playwright’s mind become black words on a white page become sounds and images in the space and time of a public forum. An audience consumes the performance, interprets it, and turns it back into ideas. Artists working to create quickly and collaboratively under the pressure of this compressed time invest in ideas that seem to have been plucked out of the ether, but in reality have been released by the heat of that necessary fire.
As Long as Fear Can Turn to Wrath, my adaptation of John Steinbeck’s great American novel, tells the story of the migrant workers of the Great Depression: As the American Dream withers in the wasted soils of Oklahoma, the nameless disenfranchised load jerry-built jalopies and venture west toward the promise of a verdant California, only to discover that the systemic cruelties of the Depression have beaten them to the Golden State.
In August of 2011 I directed a semi-staged reading of my play American Medea at the Warner Loughlin Studios. American Medea creates a post-modern collage of the real-life stories of Andrea Yates, Darlie Routier, Deborah Green, and Susan Smith and the structure and characters of Euripides’ play to elucidate the cultural construction that is modern motherhood.
Using Rogers and Hammerstein-style song and dance in the past and presentational melodrama in the present, Ruins, by Brittany Knupper, chronicles a family’s multi-generational, alcohol-fueled dysfunction. Lyrics by Brittany Knupper. Music by Tyler Gilbert. Ruins premiered at the California Institute of the Arts in 2010.
I directed a workshop of Gregory S. Moss‘s House of Gold, an expressionist play about JonBenet Ramsey and a culture that preys on Little Girls, at the PlayPenn New Play Development Conference in 2008 . House of Gold received a mainstage production at the Woolly Mammoth Theatre Company in November 2010.
Common Decency, a new farce by Ann Marie Healy uses the iconography of Small Town America to uncover the over-complicated social and sexual situations that result from over-simplified values. The production premiered at the Brown University/Trinity Repertory Company Consortium New Play Festival in 2007 and was a collaboration between 2nd-year Trinity MFA acting students, a Brown PhD student dramaturg, a Brown Literary Arts MFA student playwright, and Brown University undergraduates. Artistic Director: Bonnie Metzgar; Producer: Rick Dildine.
I participated in two of Paula Vogel’s “Bake-Offs:” collaborations between 2nd-year MFA actors at the American Repertory Theatre for Advanced Theater Training and Brown University Literary Arts MFA playwriting students in which multiple plays are composed, rehearsed, and presented in compressed time based on a list of ingredients and common dramaturgical sources.
Sixsixsix, by Gregory S. Moss, based on the Faust myth, Marlowe’s Dr. Faustus, the Virginia Tech shootings, and the music of Robert Johnson (2007).
The Wild Big Girls, by Ann Marie Healy and Get Your Troy On, by Enrique Urueta, based on Kleist’s Penthiselea and the Wonder Woman mythology (2006).
Smith College, Northampton, MA
Deep in the heart of the Texas suburbs, a classic tale of disenfranchisement and despair unfolds. American Medea, based on the real-life stories of Andrea Yates, Darlie Routier, Deborah Green, and Susan Smith, chronicles the social and psychological dislocation that results from poverty, divorce, and persecution (2009 workshop).♦
A Brief Narrative of the Extraordinary Birth of Rabbits, by Colin Denby Swanson (2009 workshop), was inspired by real-life Mary Toft, who in 1725 claimed to give birth 18 times to rabbits or pieces of rabbits. Prominent physicians believed her rabbit pregnancy was scientifically possible. Today, it just might be. In the play, where characters live on the edge of the imagined and the real, Mare, a surrogate for her infertile sister Kitty, has just given birth to her first…. Rabbit. Through 24 successive births, the play investigates the culture of pregnancy and childbirth in a scientific age.♦
Marlboro College, Marlboro, VT 2002-2005
The lyricism and onstage piano player in Williams Saroyan’s 1939 The Time of Your Life make it perfect for a musical adaptation. In this Pulitzer Prize winning play, the characters that frequent a ‘Frisco bar make their own melted-pot American family out of companionship, music, and beer. Music and lyrics by David Frye and Terence Purtell.
Scene 9, by Henry David Clarke ( world premiere)
Columbia University, New York, NY 1999-2002
Anatomy of Isabelle: A Reconstructed Production, co-produced with SKT, was a documentary production chronicling work on a production of New Anatomies, by Timberlake Wertenbaker, that was halted on September 11. The original play details Isabella Eberhardt’s conversion to Islam and her journey through Northern Africa disguised as a man. We were in rehearsals on September 11, and, when three actors quit because they did not want to play Muslims, we rebuilt the production to include that drama as well as our research into Eberhardt’s life and the Sufi mysticism she practiced.
Monsieur X: Here Called Pierre Rabier, an adaptation of the Marguerite Duras memoir, War
Hundreds of Collisions, an original piece based on the theories of John Cage
Doors, an autobiographical piece about the director based on the theories of Thadeusz Kantor
Hollywoodland, by Timothy Braun
In the Penal Colony, an adaptation of Franz Kafka’s short story
SKT, Inc., New York, NY 1996-2002
Director and Producer
The John Houseman Theater: Like It Is, Johnathan F. McClain (New York premiere)
29th Street Rep: Floating Redundant, Kimberly Howard (New York premiere)
45th Street Theater: Goldfish, Joshua Shelov (world premiere)
Big Dance Theater, New York, NY
The Most Recent History and Most Lamentable Tragedy of the 8ees (‘80’s) Passover, Sortof: directed new piece (text by Henry David Clarke) in Play Play Faster Faster festival, 2005 (world premiere)
see complete CV for more projects