Assistant Director


Opening has arrived at last for the long-awaited Steppenwolf production of HIR. For the past several weeks, I have been neck deep in Taylor Mac's magnificently re-imagined America. I've also been sharing space and creation with some of the most talented artists I have ever known.

The process has been fascinating. Understanding the world of people who have experienced extreme trauma has been both heartbreaking and a lesson  in the resilience of the human spirit. I took myself through a web based course in Skills Training in Affect and Interpersonal Regulation (STAIR) through the National Center for PTSD before rehearsals started, which helped me grasp how the characters might behave in light of their trauma. 

It has truly been a gift to collaborate with Hallie Gordon, an incredibly perceptive and creative director, along with a mostly female identified production, design, and artistic team. To share space with these powerful and talented women, and to observe and learn from the ease with which leaders in the field like Anna Shapiro and Ann Wrightson work has been invaluable. My analysis of the experience of women in this country has been sharpened and taken to new depths as the lives and experiences of the women I was sharing space with colored the shape the work was taking. The conversations over coffee, or late at night when the lights were up and the tables struck, were incredibly meaningful to me. Women in leadership at regional theaters hangs at just 25% - and here I was sharing space and soaking up the power of wildly talented, intelligent, compassionate female leaders. I cannot describe what this has meant to me.

I continue to learn new things about Paige, her strength, and the vicious cycle of violence that has entangled her family. What is to be said of the American dream if it is built upon a fantasy? What does it mean to construct a cheap version of a thing we always wanted to be better than, and how are we to respond when we realize it will never be better? 

What mercy do we owe to the broken pieces of the past? And what place do those pieces have as we inch ever further toward a better future? 

For the Love Of (or, the Roller Derby Play)

My first production with Pride Films & Plays has been a joy ride. This production of Gina Femia's world premiere of a bad-ass group of women doing what they love while fighting to love themselves found a great home in this company. Under the direction of Rachel Edwards Harvith, I've spent the last month surrounded by a diverse group of powerful, hilarious, and talented women.  

This has been my first time supporting a new work. Part of this process was bolstered by Gina's presence in rehearsals. With her eye and mind to support our exploration of the heightened realism, we were able to really push the boundaries of what the text had to offer. I've worked with many scripts in my life, but this was the first time where a difficulty with a moment or the flow of narrative was easily and swiftly adjusted by the playwright, to support the process moving forward. The spirit of this kind of collaboration made every aspect of the work exciting.

Rachel created a room where collaboration between the artist was paramount. From performers and directors working to embrace the architecture of the space, to the sound designer sitting in rehearsal, and creating sound cues based on what we had blocked, every idea was a possibility. 

We also had the joy of building a play based on real women. The world of roller derby was one I knew peripherally - a few buddies of mine skate with The Windy City Rollers. In preparation for this process, I did lengthy interviews with some of them about what the league and their teammates have meant to them.  What I found was an inspiring, intersectional community of athletes unafraid of female strength, and unapologetic for existing gracefully within it. Through these meaningful conversations we were able to inform the physical language of the play, and create a more truthful depiction of the sport.  As another part of this relationship, we were able to support for one another's work.  The cast and production team of For the Love Of attended the Juanna Rumbel Cup, to support the incredible athletes of The Windy City Rollers. In turn members of the Windy City Rollers came to see our show, taking a seat in our little Buena Park theatre and taking a ride with the Brooklyn Scallywags. 

This production's positive portrayal of women, queer relationships, and unconventional career paths has become a jewel in my body of work. The effort to maintain my artistic pursuits while balancing a full time job was strengthened as I surrounded myself with women who were doing the same - and doing so successfully. Previews for this work began just as Earthquakes in London was closing, which meant there were weeks where I was juggling all three things. And yet here was this story of these women who keep showing up, day after day - late night practices, brutal injuries, and more - for the love of the game. So I press on.  A little tired sure, but with my heart beating in time to my sisters.