There is an intimacy and uniqueness that can only occur during live performance, when the actors and audience acknowledge that tonight’s show will be unlike any that has come before. It can only happen when the cast and audience are, both literally and figuratively, present. In this way, the play is reborn again and again, and it is this symbiotic energy and sense of rebirth that drives my directing.
In 2001, I moved to New York City, where I co-founded Personal Space Theatrics (PST), a 501(c)(3)-theater company. PST’s mission is to produce “innovative theater that returns to the root of storytelling by removing the barrier between stage and audience to create a community within a shared space.” Through my company, I strive to capture the imagination of audiences by working under the conceit that playmaking is a communal activity, complete with an active and consensual relationship between audience and performers. PST experiments with this relationship and examines where the fourth wall begins and ends. This is not interactive theater, it is consensual theater, meaning we play with space and design in a way that subtly invites the audience more fully into the world of the play.
Through PST, I have worked with established playwrights such as Arthur Kopit, Theresa Rebeck, and Israel Horovitz, and championed the work of innovative young writers like Matthew Paul Olmos, Jason Grote, and Erika Sheffer. Our biggest success came in 2013, with our Off Broadway run of Julien Schwab’s rogerandtom at HERE in SoHo. Schwab’s stellar script is a mind-bending trip through the fourth wall and asks the audience to reconsider their relationship with both theater and reality. The run was a New York Times Critics’ Pick and heralded by New York Magazine, The Wall Street Journal, and The New Yorker, among others. After directing rogerandtom, I felt that I had truly succeeded, for the first time, in challenging the traditional audience experience.
Theater should never have to stand still, especially with so many young playwrights generating work that challenges our expectations. These playwrights—and their plays—deserve to be born anew every night for an eager consensual community. I would like to be the impetus that brings those plays to life and draws that community together.