In my work, I strive to challenge the idea of conventional art making and break the implicit barriers that have been established over time. Much of my work focuses on the dramatization of poetic texts, as well as interrogating works others have deemed as “sacred.” As I continue to grow as a director, I hope to expand the boundaries of how we interact with classical works of art in the twenty-first century.
I am especially interested in exploring un-staged material, specifically baroque oratorios and narrative texts, which are rich in poetic potential and allow for further creative freedom in performance. I’m a strong advocate for challenging conventions— expanding our ideas of what can be explored and performed, and who can perform it.
I tend to gravitate towards pieces which are often seen as challenging or inaccessible, but I believe that heightened forms of expression (poetic and musical languages) are used not to
confound one’s emotions, but to make those feelings more precise. I am dedicated to finding ways to help others understand and connect to the universal truths within demanding works of art.
Often within a project, I first explore the rhythmic style and the way that style shapes the narrative. In music, the template for rhythm has been laid out by the composer; therefore, it is the job of the director to interpret and to refine the emotional objectives as presented through the rhythm. In theater, the rhythmic component isn’t always explicit— poetry and verse utilize rhythmic guidelines of meter, but prose leaves the rhythm up to the director to discover. Defining the rhythm of a piece is key to unlocking the feelings and emotions hidden within.
My style focuses on what can enhance the narrative; this commonly translates to simplicity and clarity in the physical space. I am most attracted to the exploration of character because I believe that the human being is far more compelling than the most elaborate element on stage.
What I find most intriguing about the current cultural moment is the challenge COVID-19 has presented to re-evaluate every aspect of performance and its design. Finally, artists are considering what is truly essential and how these necessary components can be maximized in production. I strongly believe that this can correlate in positive ways as it relates to the entire aesthetic experience of a production.
I think it is crucial to explore different ways of democratizing traditionally exclusive art forms. One way to achieve this is by rooting the performances in truth and humanizing the narrative. What distinguishes the voice from any other instrument is that the sound comes solely from the individual— there is only a soul behind their instrument, not a wooden or metal frame. Opera is uniquely suited in this way to create human connections and evoke empathy and understanding from its audience.
Yet in practice, opera productions often prioritize vocal performance at the expense of dramatic performance. It is critical for young singers to remember that these two facets are intertwined, and the theatrical elements must function at the same level as the music, for they depend on each other for success; without both, we lose something vital.
My background in the dramatic arts offers a unique perspective on how to approach performing, specifically as it relates to character. When working with singers, I find it helpful to utilize the techniques of different theater practitioners like Uta Hagen and Sanford Meisner. For example, Hagen’s Nine Questions (which break down details of the character and given circumstances) force singers to consider the mundane and minute information that is easily overlooked when performing a scene or aria but is instrumental in establishing a character. Variations of Meisner’s repetition exercises are helpful when working on da capo arias, as they help to explore ways of creating a variance in repeated phrases that reveal the characters underlying emotions or motivations, heightening the dramatic element.
To achieve better dramatic performance requires singers to feel a sense of ownership over characters – and in this respect the director sets the tone. Often, when working on a remount, singers have limited creative freedom in the rehearsal process and are not encouraged by directors to explore their characters. I believe it is the job of the director to encourage singers to take vocal and dramatic responsibility for their roles – to make singers feel as though they have an intellectual share in each production.
Much of my work has explored the way emerging technology can enhance live performance. Though cautious not to over-utilize technology, I believe there is untapped potential to explore abstract and imaginative visual language through projection and video onstage, as well as emerging interactive technology that allows performers to control and alter the physical space by way of sound and movement.