Where do you look for inspiration?
Visual art. If I wasn’t a director, I’d be an art historian, preferably an expert in 19th century French and German painting—for now I’m just a dilettante in that area, although a passionate one.
What play or production changed your life?
I saw Strindberg’s Dance of Death at Arena Stage in 1996, with JoAnne Akalaitis directing. I sat there, stunned, for the entire play. It was funny, bloody, beautiful, and shocking. Two fantastic actors knocking each other around, while a soldier silently walked back and forth upstage, just outside a window, throughout the performance. I remember the stage was raked, adding to the off-kilter feeling of the emotions. Everything was larger than life, but absolutely knowable. After that I knew I wanted to direct plays, for sure.
Is there anything you still dream of doing?
I spent six months in Bali when I was in my early 20s, and I want to go back and walk in the rice fields again. It’s still the most gorgeous, troubling place I have ever been. And not in an Eat, Pray, Love kind of way. I traveled with a group of actors and dancers to their gigs around the island. The ever-changing geography and the many interactions I had were overwhelming. To my eyes, performance suffuses every aspect of life there; there was a very porous boundary between on and off stage. Seeing this troupe’s work and their collaboration was exactly what I needed at the time to push me closer to the work I wanted to make and the person I wanted to be. It was an extreme place to spend some time during an extreme period in anyone’s life, young adulthood, and I think I have unfinished business there.
I feel most like myself when I ….
am in a rehearsal room, watching actors make discoveries on their feet.
What’s the one thing nobody knows about you?
I like to be alone. I think the need for solitude balances the communal work of directing.
Alice Reagan is a freelance theater director based in New York City. She most frequently directs classics and new plays that experiment with form and content. Princess Grace Award. Drama League Directing Fellow. Women’s Project Directors Lab. Soho Rep Writer/Director Lab. She is Assistant Professor of Professional Practice at Barnard College, Columbia University.