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Celebrating the members of the League of Professional Theatre Women

Archive for the category “Director”

Tricia McDermott

Tricia McDermott, member of the League of Professional Theatre WomenDirector / Producer / Consultant
New York, New York and Long Island, New York USA

Where do you look for inspiration?
I’d like to say it came from beauty or some munificent place. But in truth, I think I find it in conflict, danger, and injustice. I find the need to address injustice and to try to bring peace out of conflict. Of course it could also be why I love comedy because the best comedies are about danger but we address it through laughter. A pratfall, someone caught in a compromising position…comedy does the same for me.

What’s your favorite book / movie / line from a play / pop culture guilty pleasure / cocktail? 
I don’t have favorites per se but I do have things I love. I love the movie My Favorite Year because it makes me laugh, makes me think, and touches my heart.

What play or production changed your life? 
For me it isn’t a full play or production but moments across a spectrum of doing and viewing theatre.

There have been so many. A few when I worked at the Asolo in Sarasota; one that gave me insight into my relationship with my with my father, another that jolted me back to the memory of my grandmother. Then there was the time during a friend’s production of Last Of The Formicans in grad school. The second act of the play was so relevant to my life at the moment that I couldn’t help but weep openly and I couldn’t stop. Needless to say those around me were a bit freaked out.

Is there anything you still dream of doing? 
My biggest dream is still my theatre. Airmid still doesn’t have a permanent home yet. While we’ve done some amazing work so far, I’d like to do more year round. I’d like to give more people jobs on a regular basis. If I can be a good employer and a good artist, who tells stories that affect people’s lives at the same time, I think I will have done something important with my life.

What is your best escape? 
I could really use a best escape so if someone has some suggestions, please email them! A glass of wine or shot of Jack Daniels will do in the meantime.

What’s the one thing nobody knows about you?
Nobody knows… and no one ever will!

Tricia McDermott: founder/producing artistic director, Airmid Theatre, which recovers & produces classic works by women. Previous: Executive Director, Shakespeare Globe Centre USA; literary manager, Primary Stages; various posts at regional theatres in the southeast. Member, Society of Stage Directors & Choreographers; MFA in Directing, Illinois State; BA in Theatre, Florida State.

Cara L. Reichel

Cara Reichel, member of the League of Professional Theatre WomenDirector, Artistic Director, Writer
New York, New York USA

Where do you look for inspiration?
First, my colleagues. Not only the amazingly talented collaborators – actors, writers, choreographers, designers, musicians, etc. – that I have the opportunity to work with here in NYC, but I learn and am constantly inspired by the work I see every time I go to the theater. There are particular actors who I see perform and walk away saying: “I want to create a really fantastic role for them” and that really gets the juices flowing. I see productions that innovate their form or move me and always get ideas I pack away in my back pocket for later. Secondly, history: I like to study the past and particular historical contexts and use these stories as the spark to create plays or musicals. To me, finding the connections between the past and the present makes me feel like I’m part of a continuum of human experience, and that’s inspiring.

Is there anything you still dream of doing?
Of course! I dream every day. It’s amazing to me the resilience of my own psyche. Even when I’m feeling totally burned out on theater and frustrated by our industry – give me a week off and and I’ll be thinking of the next project I’m excited to dive into. I literally have an evolving, written list of shows I’d like to direct or create (it used to be posted on my refrigerator) which at any given time would easily keep me busy for at least five years. Hopefully I’ll have the chance to tackle all of them! Of course, there are also non-theater projects that one day I hope to try my hand at as well… several good ideas for novels, for example.

What is your best escape?
I love to travel – recently I was able to take a trip to Sofia, Bulgaria, to experience the theater community over there – but of course travel is expensive and hard to manage with my current lifestyle. Short of completely escaping my own culture, a long walk in Riverside Park with my husband is pretty wonderful…

What’s the one thing nobody knows about you?
When I went to college I actually aspired to be a writer of fiction or poetry, and studied in Princeton’s Creative Writing program.

Cara Reichel Producing Artistic Director, Prospect Theater Company. Recent for Prospect: Iron Curtain (also 2009 NAMT, 2008 O’Neill Theatre Center), I Married Wyatt Earp, and Golden Boy of the Blue Ridge; Othello for Oberon Theatre Ensemble. Education: Princeton University & M.F.A. Program at Brooklyn College. Member: SDC & LPTW. www.carareichel.com

Alisa Matlovsky

Alisa Matlovsky, member of the League of Professional Theatre WomenDirector
New York, New York USA

Where do you look for inspiration?
Mostly in things I read — novels, articles, essays, stories. If the ideas themselves aren’t the source of inspiration, then the images often are. Also in things I see — the way a piece of fabric moves, the way certain colors clash, the way textures evoke emotions. Also, in music — in its rhythms and in its ability to frame and reframe moments.

What’s your favorite book / movie / line from a play / pop culture guilty pleasure / cocktail?
No way can I pick a favorite movie. There are too many of them. (Does this diminish their stature as “favorite”?) Nor do I drink enough to even consider a favorite cocktail….I mean, a glass of pinot grigio is hardly an adventurous choice. I do have a favorite quote, though, and it goes like this:
At the head of all is God, Lord of Heaven.
Then comes Prince Torlonia, lord of Earth.
Then comes the armed guard of Prince Torlonia.
Then nobody else.
And still nobody else.
And still again nobody else.

Then come the farmers.

What play or production changed your life?
Ariane Mnouchkine’s Henry IV at the Olympic Arts Festival in Los Angeles in 1984. More than 4 hours in French, and the (mostly American) audience sat rapt. I still remember the soldiers on their horses….

Is there anything you still dream of doing?
So much. So much. So much.

I feel most like myself when I ….
Dance. (Especially to The Commodores’ She’s A Brick House.)

What is your best escape?
Dancing to She’s a Brick House.

What’s the one thing nobody knows about you?
I’m an introvert?

Alisa Matlovsky is a freelance director, occasional dramaturg and sometime maker of participatory art installments. She has worked in theater and film as both artist and administrator, is a member of the LARK litwing, and serves on the film studies faculty at Westchester Community College.

Sophia Romma

Sophia Romma, member of the League of Professional Theatre WomenPlaywright, Screenwriter, Poet, Director, Professor (Screenwriting and Playwriting)
New York, New York USA

Inspiration is really a mystical demon, so to speak. I haven’t a clue where to find inspiration other than from moments in time tinged with poetry; the sublime art of conversation over a glass of wine that smells of roses and reminds one of fresh ink on an opaque page, later hopefully, filled with ardent words. Love, perhaps, and thoughts of the divine are my inspiration.

My favorite novel is Jude the Obscure by Thomas Hardy. My favorite film is Shadows of Forgotten Ancestors by Sergei Parajanov. Uggs, puke colored—wearing them, is terribly pop culture, and I am afraid not very flattering on the feet. I don’t drink cocktails at all. My favorite line of a play is from Franz Xaver Kroetz,Through the Leaves, from Mensch Meier, when Otto says: “You could dive all the way down to the bottom in me like it was the ocean, go as deeps as you can, you won’t find any great white shark down there; you know that, don’t you?”

The Brothers Karamazov, a production of the play at the Mayakovsky Academic Art Theater, altered my entire view regarding prose and verse set to the stage.

I still dream of catching my sister by her auburn pig tail and whispering that I love her, very softly—but then that’s only a dream, I remember that she is no longer living and I will have to see her in the other world.

I am not sure what I feel like when I feel like myself. I don’t know what I am, ideas racing, and the veins of poetry buzzing in my ears. I am myself when I am with my children, then I can relax and not hide my face, and not erase my personality to please others.

I love Moscow and St. Petersburg, the cathedrals, the golden spears which touch the tip of the vast Russian sky. That is my escape, the place of my birth—that nostalgia.

Playwright Sophia Romma received her MFA at NYU; Ph.D. from Gorky Literary Institute. She is screenwriter of the film Poor Liza. She has had three plays produced at La MaMa E.T.C. Her recent play, “The Mire,” (Cherry Lane Theater) received rave reviews from the New York Times. She is Literary Manager of the Negro Ensemble Company.

Gwynn MacDonald

Gwynn MacDonald, member of the League of Professional Theatre WomenDirector, Producer
New York, New York USA

Where do you look for inspiration?
This question asks us what sparks that creative flame which kindles the passion to make theater. So much inspiration surrounds us in our field, I never have far to look: the collaborative process that’s harmoniously generative, a performance that’s so magnificent it stuns the actor, writing that makes you cry, music that makes you aware of where your heart lives, and stagecraft that transforms everyday materials into a new world we can all enter.

For me, it’s less about looking for an impetus to create than finding the strength to follow it through. It takes an enormous amount of work once the fire has caught to focus that flame and keep it burning. This is my job as a director and at times it’s beyond exhausting. To be clear, exhausting is when you are running on (and running low in) your own inner resources. Beyond exhausting is when you have to go outside yourself to find the necessary fuel to keep the project going. It’s at those moments that I think about the audience. Not just the one I hope will see the piece I’m working on, but audiences I have known and loved. The couple who along with their serene seeing-eye dog navigated the obstacle course of a dilapidated midtown theatre to come to a new play from Argentina; a Chinese immigrant over-the-moon from seeing a multi-ethnic cast do a western classic; a seemingly disinterested twelve year-old who, during a Broadway student-matinee, added his own line of dialogue “Again!” just to bolster Juror #8’s climactic “It’s eleven to one.” I want to be true to these people.

I’ve been the person waiting hours for the box office to open, spending more on my ticket than I just earned, and choosing theatre when my knees would have preferred I stay home and ice them. In turn I’ve been rewarded by incredible theatre experiences. It’s this thought—that I could provide an extraordinary experience for someone else—that I turn to always when I need a lift, the inspiration to work just a little bit harder.

Gwynn MacDonald is a freelance director and the artistic director of the Juilliard alumni-founded Juggernaut Theatre Company. She has directed or produced theater, television, film and radio. Her work in television has received both Cable Ace and Emmy Nominations. Gwynn studied theater and film at Princeton University.

Valentina Fratti

Valentina FrattiDirector
New York, New York USA

Where do you look for inspiration?  Friends, books, art, music, the sun and the sea all inspire me.

What’s your favorite line from a play?  A tie between “Sometimes there’s God so quickly” and “Make voyages attempt them, there is nothing else” Both courtesy of Mr. Williams.

What play or production changed your life?  RSC’s production of Cyrano de Bergerac with Derek Jacobi.

I feel most like myself when I…am in a rehearsal room.

Is there anything you still dream of doing?  I want to do anything and everything that scares me.

What is your best escape?  Anywhere by the water.

Valentina Fratti is a freelance director, commercial producer with Jane Harmon Associates, co-founder and artistic director for 12 years of The Miranda Theatre Company, and on faculty at The New School.

Katrin Hilbe

Katrin HilbeDirector, Writer, Producer
New York, New York USA

Where do you look for inspiration? Art, life, people around me, everything everywhere is fodder for my imagination.

What’s your favorite book / movie / line from a play / pop culture guilty pleasure / cocktail?
Kurt Vonnegut’s The Sirens of Titan: “There is no reason why good cannot triumph as often as evil. The triumph of anything is a matter of organization. If there are such things as angels, I hope that they are organized along the lines of the Mafia.“

My favorite cocktail is the French 75 in either the gin and the cognac version, and I giggle helplessly at the 3-minute exchange between Steve Coogan and Ray Brydon in the movie The TripWe rise at Daybreak”.

What play or production changed your life? Peter Sellars’s production of Mozart’s Marriage of Figaro set in Trump Tower with amazing actor-singers, back in the 80s, informed me small-town girl that THAT can be done with opera! All of urban Europe knew this since the 70s, but I was sequestered in rural Liechtenstein. A professional life later I saw Michael Thalheimer’s production of Lessing’s Emilia Galotti at BAM. It contained the most moving physicalization of how one’s heart is broken.

I feel most like myself when I … am preparing a production, preparing rehearsals, and then am in rehearsals working with actors/singers, having all my planning overturned at the spur of the moment in the surge of batting ideas around, daring to try and err. Then I’m most myself in the best way that I am meant to be. Which is not to say it’s the most easy.

What is your best escape? Since being the best I can be of myself is deep effort, venting and lamenting with drinks and friends, peers, beloved, is the best escape.

What’s the one thing nobody knows about you? It’s so hidden, even I don’t know about it.

Katrin Hilbe is a director of opera and theatre, writer, producer and translator of Liechtenstein-Kansas origin. Her feet are planted firmly in mid-Atlantic, so international artistic outreach is vital to her. She functions as the Artistic Director of International Relations for MITF. More on: katrinhilbe.com and manytracks.org.

Melba LaRose

Melba Larose, member of the League of Professional Theatre WomenArtistic & Administrative Director of NY Artists Unlimited,
Playwright-Director-Actress

New York, New York USA

A relic of the Warhol days, ex-“Queen of off-off-Broadway,” and a legend in her own mind, Melba LaRose (yes, that’s her real name) escaped to the West Coast in the ’70s in a full-length black velvet coat, hot pants, floppy hat, and ripped fishnets — the strangest thing that ever got off the bus. After shaking off the glitter, it turned out that, contrary to popular dish, she wasn’t a drag queen after all. She was accepted into Lonny Chapman’s Group Theatre, where she explored more traditional roles than those written for her in NYC by Jackie Curtis, assisted by the inimitable Candy Darling. Lulled into a lobotomy by the ocean waves and insistently repetitive sunny days, she began writing and directing plays about the underground in NY and soon was on a plane back to Gotham. Now, ensconced in the world of providing professional theatre to under-served audiences (for 30 years), she writes, directs and sometimes acts in touring productions of the nonprofit company, NY Artists Unlimited. Not completely forgetting the wild theatre history of her youth, she created the International CringeFest, an annual escapade of irreverent, naughty, politically incorrect, politically satirical plays and musicals by up & coming and already arrived playwrights.

Favorite book: Proust’s Remembrance of Things Past;
Favorite movie: Death in Venice;
Favorite line from a play: “What the fuck for, dial one?!” (Lanford Wilson’s 4th of July)
Favorite pop-culture guilty pleasure: “Family Guy”;
Life-altering play: Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf (original production);
Favorite cocktails: poured them out 40 years ago after drinking a fleet of sailors under the table (I was a child prodigy);
still dream of: getting a MacArthur Genius Grant… or going to Hinckley, Ohio, to wait for the buzzards to return;
feel most like myself when I am at the ietm International Theatre Conference in a different country every six months;
best escape: obviously, travel (Travelers Anonymous is calling);
one thing nobody knows about me: I’m shy.

These days, I spend my life contemplating existential angst over the current crisis throughout the world, but especially as it affects the arts. The meds are not working.

Melba LaRose. Who’s Who in America, Who’s Who in the World, Who’s Who of American Women, Who’s Who in Executives & Professionals. Formerly with the NY Street Theatre Caravan. She has been married 25 years to Brazilian sculptor Elson de Faria

Ludovica Villar-Hauser

Ludovica Villar-HauserDirector / Dramaturg
New York, New York USA

I grew up in England. My primary school Head Mistress insisted I have Speech and Drama lessons, when she heard me speaking English with a Spanish-German accent! It was during these lessons that I grew to love “words”; “drama”, “storytelling” and the relationship between an audience and the stage.

Art, music and books were a big part of my early life, but in an attempt to “fit in” I chose to turn my back on them all as “uncool”. And with a foreign name, even bigger and odder than I was, in a country where being English was so important, I desperately wanted to fit in. I hadn’t the wisdom to know that my immigrant parents had created an environment — with their art, music and books — best suited to fostering the imagination of an intense, very serious little girl. Nor did I realize at the time that much of the drama I would one day put on stage would be heavily informed by the drama I grew up with. When I produced and directed O’Neill’s Long Day’s Journey into Night in London’s West End at the age of 23, the first thing my mother asked was why had I put our family’s emotional life on stage!

My life has taken many detours. I have owned and operated a business and a downtown theatre; produced, directed and dramaturged; been VP of Programming and Chair of the International Committee for the League of Professional Theatre Women and founded Works by Women. I very much look forward to focusing on my great love — directing complex and challenging theatre — and on seeing more and more women take their rightful place in our industry — creating theatre and being recognized and compensated financially for their contributions. Check out Works by Women and help spread the word! (no charge to join and producers’ support of the initiative is reflected in our ticket prices!)

Currently working on a Broadway-bound production of Otho Eskin’s DUET about two glorious women of the theatre: Sarah Bernhardt and Eleonora Duse (a three-hander). Interested Producers — info@directedbyludovica.com

Ludovica Villar-Hauser. West End: Eugene O’Neill’s Long Day’s Journey into Night; Gregory Murphy’s The Countess, NY and West End; Bold Girls by Rona Munro, Duet by Otho Eskin; Leaves of Glass by Philip Ridley; A Short Wake by Derek Murphy; As It Is In Heaven by Arlene Hutton. The American Academy of Dramatic Arts.

Gail Kriegel

Gail Kriegel, member of the League of Professional Theatre WomenPlaywright, Composer, Director
New York, New York USA

I dreamed of being a concert pianist. So I could stay at home and practice, I started a mail order business selling celebrity photos. I made enough to pay for the ad in the Voice but not the gas, electric, or the bill from the movers who had hoisted my piano up to our 5th floor walkup. So I got a “real” job and practicing after work, when all our neighbors were home, was out. There was only so much they could take of the 3rd measure in Bach’s Italian Concerto.

Then one weekend we went to the North Fork. “What a great place for a theater!” I said to my husband. (He claims he said it.) Neither of us had any training, but if we had a summer theater, we thought, we’d have our own business, we’d only have to work for a few months, and in the winter we’d pursue our dreams.

So we mimeographed (!) a brochure, sold shares for $25.00 each and when we raised $2500.00, rented land in Greenport (next to Mr. Kramer’s drugstore because he agreed to let us use his bathroom), put up a tent and voila! – The Greenport Summer Playhouse. “What time is the show,” our first caller asked? “What time can you get here?” My husband answered.

Although the locals – mostly farmers and fishermen — were not too excited about our choice of plays, we decided to only do plays that we wanted to see. This gave us the opportunity to produce A View From the Bridge with Jason Miller; an African-American cast in A Taste of Honey featuring Hazel Scott; and one summer, The Fantasticks in which David Mamet played the Indian, a non-speaking role! And as I watched every rehearsal of every show, saw Jason Miller become Eddie Carbone one night and the next, Murray Burns in A Thousand Clowns, I thought: I want to do that; I can, I will. And that’s what inspired me to give up my dream of being a concert pianist (my teacher was very relieved!) and begin a career in theater.

Gail Kriegel is developing her musical Sweetie which began life when she was Artist-in-Residence at the Tribeca Performing Arts Center. Her play On the Home Front will be produced in LA next fall and she is one of the seven playwrights who wrote Seven which has been produced all over the world and translated into 10 languages.

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