My years of directing theatre in Chicago have not only helped to establish a strong directorial technique, it served as a starting-point for my post-graduate, practice-based research, some of which I explored for my MA by Research (a 3-year Research Degree from the UK, culminating in live performance + 50,000 word dissertation) at the University of Warwick. Since 2005, I have directed plays in found spaces, as well as Environmental productions within traditional theatrical venues.
As a director, I was trained traditionally to follow the playwright’s words as a set of instructions: to serve the play-text. Dialogue could not be cut or revised unless first approved by the writer or through the writer’s estate. I was also taught that, although the director and performers interpret a play-text, the actual ‘structure’ of that text must remain intact. I have always considered this perception of an extant text to be the essence of the directorial challenge that, through the process of interpreting that text, leads the director to his or her own particular vision. The writer’s words are a piece of coding that a director is meant to realize by using actors, blocking and scenography. One can argue that, while a play-text consists of words written upon a page, a performance can (or should) be connected to a place in a way that a play-text cannot be. There is nothing real about the overall representation of the set, but it is all that the spectator has as a framework for the world on stage. However, a play-text staged in a way that engages with the immediacy of a site that is not a theatre produces a performance accessible only at that very moment in time, in a way that is utterly dependent upon its location.
Over the past ten years, while continuing to work with the aesthetic of the text as primary, I have directed a series of theatrical experiments (both in the UK with my former theatre company, TREMA, and in Chicago) with extant play-texts, performed in sites other than designated performance spaces (theatres), in order to interrogate the ‘placeless’ of those texts, as well as how that ‘placeness’ informs the physical presence of the actor.
Additional research interests include notions of absence and presence within the age of the avatar, representations of masculinity within contemporary theatre, themes of female hyper-sexuality, and theatrical representations of woman and madness.