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Maria Patrice Amon
Hometown and current home: San Diego, Calif.
Known for: As producer-in-residence at San Diego Rep, Amon currently serves as executive producer of its theatre advocacy council, Amigos del Rep. She also launched the San Diego Rep Latinx New Play Festival and is steering committee member of the Latinx Theatre Commons. Amon directed Fade in a co-production with Moxie Theatre and TuYo Theatre, where she currently serves as co-artistic director.
What’s next: Amon will begin working on the 2019 San Diego Rep Latinx New Play Festival, which features a cultural celebration as well as staged readings of plays by Latinx playwrights.
What makes her special: “Patrice has a deep and insatiable devotion to nurturing and making Latinx theatre,” says San Diego Rep artistic director Sam Woodhouse. “She is a whip-smart, detail-hungry, eyes-wide-open collaborator. She relishes asking and answering questions.”
Lawfully good: Amon switched from law to pursue a Ph.D. in drama in part because, as she puts it, “The law treats guilt and innocence as universal absolutes, but in reality race, class, and gender play heavily into how the law treats different groups of people,” she says. “In theatre, I am drawn to stories that complicate assumptions of universality, and which challenge assumptions of guilt and innocence across cultural and social identities.” She hopes to impart this message to students in her Theatre for Social Change class at University of California, Riverside. “My favorite part of theatre is introducing my university students to work that is artistically rigorous and culturally significant,” she says. “I love to see them discovering components of their history they had not known before.”
Profession: Performance maker/community arts organizer
Hometowns: “All over the U.S.,” though Fairbanks, Alaska, and Roswell and Santa Fe, N.M. were her most long-term homes
Current home: Newport, R.I.
Known for: In six years at Trinity Rep, she’s built the company’s community engagement initiatives. She is also a founding co-director of the devising ensemble Strange Attractor.
What’s next: With Strange Attractor, Noon is creating a piece in an abandoned Providence mill about women who worked there at the turn of the 20th century—a largely vocal performance, billed as a “choral haunting,” to be performed at night. With Trinity Rep, Noon is running a pilot program at the Santa Cruz Museum of Art and History called Of/By/For/All.
What makes her special: “Rebecca is an incredible mentor, teacher, and artist-practitioner,” says Tenara Calem, audience engagement coordinator at Fringe Arts, a frequent Strange Attractor outlet. “She thinks deeply about ways to meet local needs with artistry, and her people-first approach makes her a compassionate and firm advocate in the Rhode Island community.”
All the trappings: Noon, who’s interested in interrogating assumptions about live performance, works against the unnecessary “trappings” often expected of live performance: season tickets, scripted plays, $7 glasses of wine, etc. “Working in community engagement within the artistic department means I can use my experimental artist self to push on the edges of these rules and slowly be part of a movement that brings live performance into new focus,” she says. “I am lucky to simultaneously make work exactly how I want and be invited to influence the ever-evolving regional theatre movement.”
Profession: Director/literary manager
Hometown: Waco, Texas
Current home: Houston
Known for: A longtime stage manager, Bridger began to focus on directing in 2016, with her production of Well by Lisa Kron at Mildred’s Umbrella receiving the most attention to date.
What’s next: This month Bridger manages a small staged reading festival, “Consenting Bodies,” produced by Mildred’s Umbrella and hosted by Rec Room Arts, for which she’ll direct Brandy Carie’s Krav Maga Play. She is also applying to graduate schools in Houston, Austin, and beyond to grow as a director and researcher.
What makes her special: When Bridger started as a stage manager/assistant director at Mildred’s Umbrella in 2013, a.d. Jennifer Decker recalls, she was “green” but proved a quick study, and she’s now “one of our most valuable members. She is intelligent, analytical, mature beyond her years, organized, and very collaborative. She allows everyone she’s working with to create and participate in the process, while leading with a smart, detail-oriented eye.”
Make it big: “I like plays that are about too many things!” effuses Bridger, especially “plays that tackle the poetic, political, personal, and fantastic. We have a privileged place of power in the theatre: People come to sit with us for a part of their day, and they grant us their full attention. If I can convince them to be moved emotionally, that’s step one; if I can convince them to act on some response to the show in the moments or days afterward, then that’s a job well done.”
Hometown and current home: Milwaukee
Known for: Roman’s most acclaimed roles include Nina (In the Heights, Skylight Music Theatre), Agnes (Agnes of God, Renaissance Theaterworks), and Cassandra (Vanya and Sonya and Masha and Spike, Milwaukee Chamber Theatre). Parts she wishes she could have played forever include Maria (Lend Me a Tenor, Milwaukee Chamber Theatre), the Witch (Big Fish, First Stage), and Jania (Exit Strategy, Forward Theater).
What’s next: In January Roman will return to In the Heights for the third leg of a co-production among Milwaukee Repertory Theater, Seattle Repertory Theatre, and Cincinnati Playhouse. In March she heads back to Forward Theater to play Ella in Aaron Posner’s Life Sucks. Then she’ll finish off her season at Skylight Music Theatre, where her Milwaukee career began, playing Lilli Vanessi (Katherine) in Cole Porter’s Kiss Me, Kate.
What makes her special: “We have loved working with Rána Roman over the past several seasons on wildly different projects,” says Jenn Uphoff Gray, Forward Theater Company artistic director. “Rána is a beautiful and soulful singer and actor. More than that, she’s a magnificent and insightful human being. We are so lucky that she calls this state her home.”
Tell it: Growing up with a singer for a mother, Roman has always found refuge in music. “I do this because I love it. I need the theatre. I breathe music,” she says. Her goal as she progresses in her career as a woman of color is to “represent and inspire the next generation. Children need to see people who look like them doing beautiful, challenging, meaningful, and magical work. Humanity is better because of artists. We are the storytellers. We keep memories alive.”
Profession: Theatre consultant/architect
Hometown: Wilson, Kans.
Current home: Chicago
Known for: Abercrombie has designed performance spaces for 13-plus years and opened theatres and concert halls in the United States, Canada, Europe, and the Middle East, including Montréal’s Maison Symphonique and the Hudson Theatre on Broadway.
What’s next: In 2019 TheatreSquared in Fayetteville, Ark., will open a new home with a pair of theatres designed by Abercrombie. He is also working with Toronto’s Massey Hall, currently undergoing a two-year renovation, and in a few months he will begin work on Steppenwolf Theatre Company’s new theatre.
What makes him special: “Clem is a true pioneer,” says John Owens, partner at Charcoalblue, the design consultancy where Abercrombie works as Chicago studio principal. “Deeply passionate about buildings as places where people connect and where stories are told, he uses his own gift for storytelling to engage and energize.” Owens notes that Abercrombie’s “acoustic training” and “real-life touring experience” informs his work, and that his desings inspire “the next generation of theatremakers.”
Home away from home: Abercrombie has noted “a communal shift in theatremaking toward what I would describe as an expanded definition of ‘accessibility.’ We are making theatres more accessible for new audiences—places that feel like ‘home’ for a wider demographic. We are also making theatres more accessible for new artists, making them more flexible so that they can adapt to the direction of previously underrepresented communities. This shift affects everything from where we place the entry, to what form the theatre takes, to the colors we choose.”
Hometown and current home: Long Beach, Calif.
Known for: In 2016 Moeller received 2nd place from the Kennedy Center American College Theater Festival’s Hip Hop Theater Creator Award for her play A Live Mixtape, which she further developed in a 2018 residency at California Repertory Company, California State University, Long Beach. She also co-founded the nonprofit Up & Coming Actors (UCA), where she’s written and produced seven one-acts.
What’s next: On Jan. 11 a workshop production of her play Heroes of the West, co-written with April Brewster, will go up at the Long Beach Playhouse. And A Live Mixtape will be produced in March by Cal Rep, directed by Bruce A. Lemon, Jr.
What makes her special: “Tahirih is a vibrant new voice in American playwrighting,” says Cal Rep artistic director Jeff Janisheski, who brought Moeller to the company as playwright-in-residence. “From reading just the first few pages of A Live Mixtape, I knew we had to produce it. It’s brave and bold writing that tackles big ideas. I love how fearless she is in finding new forms and dramaturgies to present these different ‘tracks’—these multilayered voices—in the mixtape of her community.”
Greek tragedy: “My favorite kind of theatre is theatre that represents my community, that shines a spotlight on the everyday person to speak up and tell their stories that are as poetic as Greek mythology and unfortunately at times just as tragic,” says Moeller. These stories “dance between triumph and tragedy; they are raunchy, comedic, and magical.”
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