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Director of Musical
BFA, Drama, North Carolina School of the Arts, Winston-Salem, NC
MA, Music and Theatre History, Goddard College, Vermont
Artistic Director, Madison Repertory Theater
Madison Repertory Theatre, the only professional theatre in Madison, Wisconsin, is a ‘LORT D” regional theatre with a budget of $2.2 million. The AD position is responsible for all programming choices, and the hiring of all creative and production staff. The size and unique position of MRT also require the Artistic Director to take on responsibilities vis-à-vis fundraising, budgeting, management, board selection, community outreach, marketing and special event planning. Specific innovations and accomplishments include:
Broadening the theatre’s mission to include the development and production of new plays, and the re-invigoration of classics. Formerly Madison Rep was primarily a producer of plays produced the previous year in New York; while continuing this programming, I focused on the theatre’s role as an originator of work, and a home for artists.
Creating the Madison New Play Festival, which has developed plays that have premiered not only on our stage, but have also gone on to performances on stages from Louisville’s Humana Festival to theatres such as Second Stage, Primary Stages, and Yale Repertory Theatre, Huntington Theatre, and Berkeley Repertory Theatre. Artists whose plays have been developed during the festival include Sarah Ruhl, Theresa Rebeck, Keith Bunin, OyamO, Eric Simonson, Darrah Cloud, Charles Smith, Glenn Berger, Tina Howe, and many others. Keynote speakers have included Lee Blessing, Tina Howe, and Doug Wright .
Establishing a commissioning fund, the Lee and Linda Eisenberg Fund for New American Plays. So far this fund has commissioned and supported the development of Fireweed by Heather McDonald, Wisbom by OyamO, and Lombardi/The Only Thing by Eric Simonson. Simonson’s play received a World Premiere in 2007 at Madison Rep, under my direction.
Establishing, for the first time in Madison Rep history, a close working relationship with the University of Wisconsin -Madison to provide opportunities for collaboration between the University and the theatre. Highlights of this work have included a partnership between the Madison Rep and the Physics Department on a Colloquia for the play Copenhagen; a weekend Symposia around the opening of Our Town, which included a panel with Tappan Wilder, Thornton Wilder’s nephew and the executor of his estate; planning and preparation for a full co-production of Barton/Cavendar’s The Greeks, and extensive use of faculty and students, including several student actors and designers who have “graduated” to professional status.
Acquiring funding for the African-American Artists Series, sponsored by American Family Insurance, a program to fund the production of African -American plays and provide outreach into the Madison community to build audiences of color. Now in its third year, this program has significantly increased African-American audience numbers for Madison Rep.
Founding the Madison Young Playwrights Program and the Madison Young Playwrights Festival through a pilot program at East High School that brought teaching artists and master playwrights into the school throughout the year, culminating in a presentation of short plays on our stage. Creating the “First Monday Forum,” an educational event taking place on the first Monday of each play’s performance, in collaboration with the Wisconsin Academy of Arts and Sciences. Forums give background on the plays and playwrights, and feature speakers on topics addressed by the plays, for example Richard Pevehouse, Professor of Political Science at UW Madison, spoke on the role of the UN for the First Monday Forum for A Walk in the Woods, and, in conjunction with our production of A Moon for the Misbegotten, O’Neill’s final play, we presented a reading of that writer’s “sea” plays, some of his earliest work.
Producing, for the first time in Madison Rep history, a number of world and regional premieres, and commissions, including Sarah Ruhl’s Eurydice (first professional production of a play by Ruhl, later productions of this play at Berkeley Rep, Yale Rep, and Second Stage, and nationally), Jeffrey Hatcher’s Mercy of a Storm, Tina Howe’s Rembrandt’s Gift, Eric Simonson’s Lombardi/The Only Thing, Love is the Weirdest ofAll, based on and featuring the music of Lou and Peter Berryman, Darrah Cloud and Kim Sherman’s Heartland in a co-production with producer Ben Mordecai, and the mid-west premiere of Corley’s own translation of Marivuax’s The Game ofLove and Chance.
Producing, for the first time at Madison Rep, a major Broadway musical, Rodgers and Hammerstein’s Carouse!, in the summer of 2007.
Expanding the theatre’s artistic reach to Chicago and New York by hiring casting directors in both cities.
Growing the production department from a three person operation (Set Designer/Technical Director, Lighting Designer/Master Electrician, and Costume Designer/Shop Supervisor) to a filly staffed team of artisans, including a Production Manager, Technical Director, Wardrobe Supervisor, Paint Charge, Props Master, etc.). Concurrently with this, hiring designers and craftspeople from from Madison, Milwaukee, Chicago, and New York, thus energizing the production staff.
Directing at least two and sometimes three plays on the main-stage, plus plays during the Madison New Play Festival. Representative work includes: Our Town, featuring Andre De Shields, which opened Madison Rep’s new theatre, The Playhouse, at Overture Center; the World Premiere ofEurydice by Sarah RuhI, the World Premiere of Lombardi/The Only Thing by Eric Simonson, A Moonfor the Misbegotten and Anna Christie by O’Neill, Talley ‘s Folly, Tuesdays with Morrie, The Drawer Boy, Carousel, The Price, Death ofa Salesman, Dirty Blonde and Permanent Collection..
Producing balanced budgets in each of my seasons.
Leading a successful flindraising campaign, trimmed the budget and reorganized the company to eliminate a debt of $300,000.
Overseeing the move into the Rep’s permanent home as a resident company in the Overture Center’s Playhouse.
Overseeing all Marketing, was instrumental in the design of season brochures, wrote newsletters and program notes for each of the plays.
Working closely with the Board on all aspects of flmdraising and development, including the acquistion of the largest gift from an individual for a play ($90,000) in the past fifteen years.
Establishing close ties with the local and national finding community, including the Shubert Foundation in NY, whose giving increasing three -fold during my tenure. Strong letters of support available from the Dane County Cultural Foundation, the major public support group in Madison, and the CUNA Mutual Foundation, the largest private funder.
1995-2009 Associate Artist, Berkshire Theater Festival
Advisor to the Producing Artistic Director of this theatre in Stockbridge, Massachusetts, helping to develop new work and suggesting plays and artistic personnel for each season. Produced Love’s Fire (Seven Short Plays Inspired by Shakespeare Sonnets), Shoot the Piano Player, and a workshop of a new play by Eve Ensler, author of The Vagina Monologues, co-presented by Music Theatre Group. Directed productions of Tony Kushner’s The illusion (two productions - first upon the closing the original Unicorn Theatre, BTF’s second stage, the second upon the new Unicorn’s 10th Anniversary), The Game of Love and Chance, Shoot the Piano Player (also author), O’Neill’s Desire Under the Elms, Quills, Educating Rita, and A Man for All Seasons. Four of these productions were named “Best of the Berkshires” by the press.
1998-2002 Associate Producing Director, The Acting Company
In association with Producing Director Margot Harley, responsible for overseeing all aspects of this 29 year old non-profit company. The Acting Company is America’s foremost classical touring theatre, with a $3.5 million dollar annual operating budget. Primary responsibilities included all facets of the artistic direction of the company such as choosing the plays; helping to pick the directors, designers, and staff; auditioning the actors, and creating new programs. Worked with the General Manager on setting each year’s budget figures; co-ordinate educational programming, including greatly expanding educational components of the company, and hiring a full -time Education Director; worked with the Development Director on grant-writing; and with the Marketing Director on development of materials such as season brochures, posters, and teacher/student educational booklets.
Brought to The Acting Company an innovative and unique program to commission, develop and produce American plays based on classic American novels. Directed inaugural production of this program, a musical version of Willa Cather’s 0 Pioneers!, and commissioned and developed Charles Smith’s adaptation of Twain’s Pudd’nhead Wilson.
Produced the Salon Series, a benefit reading series of “forgotten” classical plays featuring actors such as Victor Garber, Jayne Atkinson, Rene Aubeijonois, Robert Sean Leonard, Marian Seldes, Lisa Banes, J. Smith-Cameron and many others, and directors such as Scott Ellis, David Warren, Tom Fontana, and John Rando.
Plays co-produced include Tartuffe directed by the late Garland Wright, Twelfth Night directed by Penny Metropoulus, The Rivals directed by Nicholas Martin, The Comedy of Errors directed by John Rando, and 0 Pioneers! (also directed), and Pudd’nhead Wilson by Charles Smith, based on the novel by Mark Twain .
1995-97 Badia di Cava Music Festival, Italy
Directed opera productions at this major music festival on the Amalfi Coast .
Director (Representative List)
Madison Repertory Theatre: Permanent Collection, Lombardi/The Only Thing (World Premiere), Death of a Salesman, Carousel, The Price, Anna Christie, The Drawer Boy, Eurydice (World Premiere), Our Town (with Andre De Shields), Tuesdays With Morrie, Copenhagen, Mercy of a Storm, Rembrandt’s Gift, Dirty Blonde, A Moon for the Misbegotten, Talley ‘s Folly, Berkshire Theatre Festival: The illusion (twice), The Game of Love and Chance (original translation), Educating Rita, Shoot the Piano Player, Desire Under the Elms, Quills, A Man for All Seasons, The Acting Company: O Pioneers!, As You Like It, Philadelphia Theatre Company: The Woods, Sight Unseen, Broken Glass, A Question ofMercy, City Theatre, Pittsburgh: Mercy of a Storm (World Premiere), Mint Theatre, NY: Rutherford and Son, New Jersey Shakespeare Festival: The Merchant of Venice, Dallas Theatre Center: Dirty Work; Arena Stage, Dirty Work (World Premiere), Judith Anderson Theatre, NY: Incommunicado (with Tom Aidredge, Drama Desk Nomination), Hartford Stage Company, The Cover of Life (World Premiere), Magic Theatre, San Francisco: XXX Love Act (World Premiere), Jean Cocteau Repertory Theatre, NY: Heartbreak House, Sovremennik Theatre, Moscow: Williams’ Small Craft Warnings (Russian Premiere )
Teaching Shakespeare in the BFA program at University of Illinois, Chicago. Teaching Directing at Acting Studio, Chicago. Continuing work with young artists at training programs such as Brandeis, NYU, ACT, UW Madison, Old Globe/UC San Diego, SUNY Purchase, Bard College, Juilliard, and many others on plays by Turgenev, Chekhov, Brecht, Shakespeare, Friel, Williams, and many others, including new work.
1991-92 Recipient of TCG/NEA Career Advancement Fellowship
Recipient of prestigious and highly competitive fellowship given semi-annually to six directors. Year long fellowship enabled assistantships at the Public Theatre, Berkeley Repertory Theatre, Wooster Group, Jennifer Muller Dance, and Glimmergiass Opera to work with and observe major directors and choreographers .