In addition to being a professional director, I am a dedicated and passionate educator. I’ve directed graduate shows at UCLA, USC, and UC Riverside, and undergraduate one-act plays at AMDA.
When I directed Aphra Behn’s THE ROVER at UCLA, I was asked to teach the MFA Acting students to perform classical text in a large proscenium space. I chose a hybrid Restoration/contemporary aesthetic in order to give creative freedom to the student costume and set designers. I also invited undergraduate actors, dancers, and musicians to compose original music and choreograph dances that merged hiphop with the Spanish origins of the play. In the following highlight reel and photos, you can see how they student-designed sets, costumes, music, and choreography interpreted and interrogated the European, white-supremacist, patriarchal society through a modern, multicultural lens.
At USC, I directed graduate student Hannah Langley’s full-length play LOSING MY RELIGION (in 140 characters or less), which was inspired by the story of a young woman leaving the Westboro Baptist Church. I worked closely with the writer as she reworked her script, and the undergraduate designers who created a spare, flexible set and rich soundscape. Undergraduate actors played Charity; her fiercely homophobic mother; the Jewish boy she meets through Twitter that gently helps her open up her world view; and his gay best friend, who warily watches their unlikely romance unfold.
At U.C. Riverside, a large, multicultural cast brought to dynamic life Mary Zimmerman’s ARGONAUTIKA. We worked closely as an ensemble, writing songs, improvising shipwrecks and storms, battling with puppets, and so on. Faculty designers created stunning pictures and costumes, and the students worked hard on their vocal production so that they could make the words both soar and land with relevance and immediacy.
I chair the Theatre Department at Shalhevet High School, where we mount an annual production of student-written and -directed plays. Last year’s production, The Jewish Century Cycle, was an homage to the great August Wilson. Students studied his work and his impact on both Black America and the American theatre, and then wrote about the experience of Jews as an immigrant minority. Zoe Ritz’s BURNT CASSEROLE, a nightmarish comedy about the price paid when Jews assimilate to the point of denying their heritage, was a semi-finalist for the O’Neill Young Playwrights Festival.
We worked with the English and Jewish History Departments to create an interdisciplinary lobby display interweaving the great plays of August Wilson’s CENTURY CYCLE with our students’ plays about the Jewish experience in the 20th century.
At the beginning of each performance, in order to educate our Jewish audience about the importance of Wilson’s legacy, we showed a documentary about August Wilson created by a student and Faculty mentor, Fredrick Leach.
THE JEWISH CENTURY CYCLE Highlights Reel
THE JEWISH CENTURY CYCLE Program
Click to view.
When COVID struck back in March of 2020, I wanted to find a way to share the original plays my students had worked so hard on under the tutelage of playwriting instructor Elizabeth Wong. So, we quickly pivoted from staging one-act plays to creating Zoom theatrical pieces that utilized animation, digital effects, and complex voice-overs. Here are some highlights from the final product, ALL IN MY HEAD.
In May, 2021, when few theaters were back on their feet, my students and I were eager to create live theater. We devised a site-specific, Covid-safe, open-air production about a Hollywood mogul faced with his adult children's struggle for independence. Intimate groups of audience members were guided from location to location to watch 4 ten-minute scenes (all performed simultaneously). The production culminated at an open-air rooftop bash, where all the stories came together in front of the full audience.
Our program, below, described the characters the students had devised and brought to life.
Whether I’m working with trained actors in a rigorous conservatory environment or high school freshman just finding their sea legs, I try to inspire students to achieve their personal best. My goal is to create a safe space for young people to bloom and experiment as artists – to take risks and make bold art. Theater Arts as a discipline is a practice of empathy and communication. At its best, teaching drama is about connecting souls and freeing young people to fearlessly create.
Program for A STARRY NIGHT, a devised, site-specific, Covid-safe production