Working in the East Village and studying at New York University’s Experimental Theater Wing in the 1980s, I was exposed to a majestic smorgasbord of artists who shaped my life, my world, and my heart. Working in Post-Modern Dance and Viewpoint Improvisation did not just shape my artistic technique, but but also shaped how I see, think, and feel. I co-founded two theaters: Bad Neighbors, which specialized in topical, popular, comedic performance, and DaK Theater, which used techniques of our mentor Eugenio Barba in rehearsal processes lasting up to 16 months. Eventually I became the Artistic Director of Bad Neighbors, popularizing serial performance in downtown New York theater and commissioning new works from playwrights including Steven Sater, Deb Margolin, Heather Woodbury, and Georg Osterman. The company’s core artists included best-selling author Liz Tuccillo, and filmmakers Lynn Shelton and Madeleine Olnek.
In the late 1990s, I went back to school, earning an M.F.A. in Directing from Columbia University. I had no intention of teaching, but by accident (not design) happen to have been mentored by some of the most influential figures in theater training of the late 20th century. Anne Bogart (with whom I worked at NYU and Columbia), Eugenio Barba (the guide for DaK Theater in developing its training), Joseph Chaikin (whom I assisted for a time shortly before he passed away), and Stephen Wangh (as director and teacher). Under their guidance, I developed a physically-based approach to performance.
Since moving to Florida in 2001, I have produced work in both South Florida and New York. Using non-mainstream techniques in the service of traditional material has brought support for my work as a playwright and director from organizations such as New York Stage and Film at Vassar, The Arsht Center for the Performing Arts (where both The BugChasers and 1,000 Homosexuals broke advance sales records), and Miami-Dade Department of Cultural Affairs. I am a member of LMDA (Literary Managers and Dramaturgs of America) and ATHE (Association of Theater in Higher Education). I teach at Florida International University and am on the Recommendation Panel for the Carbonell Awards.
Theater is about artists and audience coming together in the same space and breathing the same air. Theater is an exchange.
I am a playwright and theater director. I devote myself to an art form that is both labor intensive and ephemeral—which a terrible combination. Film, print writing, and painting last and can be fixed in just the way the artist would like--but none of them respond to their audience in the moment. The satisfaction theater offers is the intensive collaboration not just with other artists, but with audiences as well. It is the things that I cannot control by myself in theater that make the work so meaningful.
The ultimate goal of all my work (however created) is to present human actions in contexts that challenge easy preconceptions and slick assumptions. I want to entice audiences into reexamining their own sympathies and prejudices. This is true of the works I write (and also the onese I direct). My hope is that people leave my plays understanding themselves better.
Our expectations and desires often prevent us from actually perceiving the elements before us. For example, one might see the performance or story one hopes for rather than the one that is actually on stage. When training directors, I try to teach them to open themselves up so they can see accurately what is in front of them.
Seeing is the first step. Analysis is the second. The art of directing is largely the art of analysis. To direct one must analyze the structure of the script and story, the properties of the space one is working in, the personalities of the other artists collaborating on a production, and many, many more things than I can describe. Deep analysis requires a response. One cannot remain passive. The artist either needs to affirm the status quo or alter its balance.