MFA in Directing and Acting (University of Wisconsin - Madison)

BA in Performing Arts—Acting and Directing (Colorado State University)

BS in Education (Chadron State College)

 

      As a director I seek to embrace diversity in both work, style, and performers. I am drawn to visceral and tactile work that explores, exposes, and celebrates the human spirit and struggles of the soul; work that challenges the perception of what human beings are capable of.  As an artist, I enjoy creating original works that amalgamate metaphorical and impressionistic visuals with movement, language, and music.  When a performer can offer themselves in a raw and innocent form and invite the audience to share in their vulnerability - that is when we open our audiences up.  It is a medium through which we can put people back in touch with humanity.  In a world full of technology, theatre is turning into a place where one can go for communion with their fellow man, a place where humankind can be revealed to itself and a discussion can begin.  Theatre is also a great magic maker; true magic happens when a piece cannot help but transform the community of artists that are working on it, the audience, or both. If we can get an audience to believe in magic again, even for a moment, we have done our job. Likewise if we can reach out to individuals, help them realize that they are not isolated and alone, but that their struggle is common – there is a certain comfort that we can provide through our art form.  As an educator I feel a social responsibility to use the arts to educate, create community, and reach out to communities.  This is best done when we give our audiences as much scaffolding and support as we do our performers and designers.  Artists are not only entertainers and storytellers, but that they have a social responsibility through the ideas, thoughts and words that are presented – and must always be mindful of the message sent and actions encouraged.  Knowing what we want to say to an audience, how we want to affect our audience, and how we want to involve our audience is where it all begins.

 

       To flesh out a production with details a director must constantly double as an explorer. One should always try new foods, adventure to new places, photograph and catalogue visuals, patronize the local arts, and sample cultures and customs in order to enrich one’s vocabulary of experiences and to increase one’s sphere of knowledge.  The text is where we begin our archeological adventure into sociology, psychology, art and history which then fertilizes a series of seeds, put in place by the playwright which we must collaboratively mine, cultivate and grow throughout our rehearsals and performance.  The director becomes part gardener, part air traffic controller, and part sculptor; coordinating a ballet of movement both on and off stage.  The saying, “One is only as good as those with which one surrounds themselves with,” holds true.  Finding ways to help designers and performers connect with a piece on a personal level creates investment and ownership.  Having worked with performers of all ages and abilities I have learned patience, gratitude, compassion and appreciation for the work and vulnerability that a performer brings to rehearsals and the stage. Creating a safe space where performers and designers feel respected and valued leaving them free to create, express, and contribute is paramount to constructing a heartfelt and personalized production that connects to the audience.  

 

       I offer a varied background in secondary education, music, dance, museum work, business, and retail design/marketing. I have taught in a school district that is home to students from one the poorest counties in America, and I have worked behind the scenes in the high end interior design market in one of America’s biggest cities. I am comfortable working with all ages and abilities in grass roots settings in both the dance and theater world as well as text-based classical and contemporary theatrical works within a professional theatrical setting.  

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An Evening with Poe - The Bells

University of Wisconsin Heather Pickering, Director