Alice Reagan is a freelance theatre director based in New York City. She most frequently directs unusual classics and new plays that experiment with form and content. After graduating from Bates College, Alice earned an M.A. in performance studies from NYU/Tisch School of the Arts, then was a Dean’s Fellow in the M.F.A. theatre directing program at Columbia University. In addition to an extensive directing career at theatres all over the country, Alice is Assistant Professor of Professional Practice in Directing at Barnard College. When she was directing Or, by Liz Duffy Adams at Shakespeare & Company last summer, she connected with Kristen van Ginhoven and Molly Clancy, which led to her directing our May 7 Fresh Takes Play Reading of Really by Jackie Sibblies Drury.
WAM Theatre: How did you come to be directing Really for WAM?
Alice Reagan: I brought the play to your Fresh Takes Curator, Molly Clancy, and we were both excited about it.
WAM: How so? What appealed to you?
Alice: Jackie Sibblies Drury is one of the most exciting playwrights working today. The way she deals with racial issues is bracing. She doesn’t try to make her characters “good” people, instead she deals with who they are, and as a result her characters are complicated, in process individuals.
WAM: What is Really about?
Alice: The play is about a young female photographer trying to take a photo of her now dead boyfriend’s mother. Drury stipulates that the photographer is a woman of color and the mother is not. The play takes place in real time during one photo shoot, as the women talk about the missing man in their lives and how that loss affects how they interact with the world. The play packs a punch at a brisk 75 minutes.
WAM: What do you look for in a directing project?
Alice: First I want to know that I can connect with the work and I want to know that I can cast excellent actors. For Really we have assembled a very talented cast of both local and New York City-based performers.
WAM: How did you first get interested in the theatre?
Alice: I was an actor in high school and college, but I quickly switched to directing. I found I wanted a view of the whole stage, not have my blinders on as an actor focusing solely on my own track. I have been directing since I was 20—I love it.
WAM: How did you first learn about WAM?
Alice: I grew up in the Boston area, and my parents often took me to see theatre in the Berkshires. I also lived in Northampton for a while after college. Last summer, when I was here to direct at Shakespeare & Company, I was introduced to Kristen van Ginhoven. We met for lemonade and ended up talking for two hours. We have a lot in common – we love many of the same writers and plays, we are both committed to telling women’s stories, and creating work opportunities for women in all aspects of theatre.
WAM: You have an impressive resume and have worked for an exciting variety of theatres. What is the appeal of working for a small company like WAM on a one-off play reading?
Alice: WAM’s mission is very appealing to me. And I value the audience and the community in the Berkshires. People there are already connected but also ready to open their minds to new artists and works. While WAM is a small company now, it is having a growing impact on the region.
WAM: What do you hope the audience will take away from this reading?
Alice: I hope they will enjoy it! I want them to be stimulated and fascinated, perhaps knocked a bit off balance. While on one level Really is a play about race, it is also a play about photography and authenticity, the value and efficacy of art, mothers and sons, and aging. Ultimately, I hope it moves on to a full production somewhere in the Berkshires.
WAM: What is next for you? Any chance you are coming back to the Berkshires to direct?
Alice: WAM is my Berkshire adventure this year – so far. Right now I’m in pre-production for Grounded by George Brant at the Dobama Theatre in Cleveland. Then I am directing Pattern Seeking Animals by Gabrielle Reisman, about rising waters in a Louisiana community in Louisiana and how they the people there choose to deal with the problem. This is part of a series called New Plays at Barnard where every two years we commission and produce a new play by a woman-identified playwright.