As a stage director, my interests revolve around creating new work and exploring the potential for theatre to engage across borders—between people and cultures, between methods and disciplines. I am drawn to the transformational qualities of theatre where communities may be changed or formed through participation. I’m an unrepentant idealist about such things. At its best, theatre provides a unique forum where we raise questions and grapple with how to contend with existing narratives. I recall attending the Royal Shakespeare Company’s presentation of Japanese director Yukio Ninagawa’s highly physical production of Titus Andronicus in May 2006. Through all of that show’s suggested gore and embodied savagery, I came to confront our universal, timeless addiction to violence. I pushed against the very real boundaries between the 16th century English play, the manifestly Japanese staging and translation of Ninagawa’s production, and my own American perspective. A new community was formed in that theatre amid the struggle against differences of language, history, and style so that we might for a moment gain tangible access to the myth of Titus. The dialectics—the strategic collisions of apparently opposing cultures and forms—were central to that production’s success. Faced with these challenges, the audience wrestled for meaning, yet we were wooed into that effort through the audacity, dexterity, and precision of the director’s vision. This is the gold standard for what I do—gently enticing audiences into a dialogue whereby they complete the creative act.
I cultivate projects that place divergent methods, media, aesthetics, and cultures in collaborative environments to explore the harmonies between seemingly dissonant parts. I’m curious about the ongoing role and possibilities for live, embodied performance given our increasingly mediated, disembodied culture. Tom Driver notes, “no good ritual is disembodied.” With this in mind, my work with actors begins with a focus on physicality. Furthermore, I am committed to exploring our contemporary rituals, those conditioned processes that allow us to crack open memory and story for collective response.
Most recently, I directed Square Top Theatre’s first film project, Laura, or Scenes from a Common World, which premiered at the 2016 Art Video International Film Festival in Cannes. In 2013, I directed the premiere of Damon Falke‘s Now at the Uncertain Hour, a production that explores the borderlands between theatre, broadcast radio, live music, and mediated performance. The show features characters speaking from historical and contemporary perspectives and live music for claw-hammer banjo and modular synthesizer. In 2010, I worked with Falke to produce and tour the premier of his play The Sun is in the West. The production centered on questions of fading cultural particularities, localism, the unreliability of memory, and the way meaning and a sense of connection are constructed by the telling and re-telling of stories. I returned to the U.S. in 2012 after teaching and directing in China with the U.S. Peace Corps at Guizhou University. While in China, I directed cross-cultural productions of Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream and The Tempest. The latter production was invited to perform as part of the Chinese Universities Shakespeare Festival in Hong Kong. Read more about my current projects here.