Celebrating the members of the League of Professional Theatre Women

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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.

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.

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