A New Direction with Directing Apprentice Joan Sergay

by on November 1, 2017

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Meet one of the Directing Apprentices from the 2017-2018 Professional Training Company!

A New Direction with Directing Apprentice Joan Sergay

New Play Projects have proven to be daunting tasks even to the best prepared amongst the Professional Training Company. Take a new work–never before seen–and read it, change it, design it, stage it, change it again, perform it for an audience, repeat. And on top of all of that, do it in a space that is not the theater. The final New Play Project, The Soul of the World by Isaac Gomez comes to life in the wake of a wealth of new work already put forth by the apprentice company. But this play is no trailing final note; it is sizzling and pulsing with life and warmth and community, and well at home within La Casita Center in Old Louisville, a grass-roots non-profit serving the local Latinx community.

D.C. Native and Northwestern graduate, Joan Sergay, one of two Directing Apprentices this season, is well-equipped and excited by this kind of work. “I ran a theatre company at Northwestern that specialized in experimental, site-specific theatre,” she says. “Site-specific work asks you to rethink how you approach, stage, and deliver a play to an audience.”  While Joan recognizes that there are unique challenges and factors to consider when directing a play in a non-traditional theatre space, she says her rehearsal process remains the same as any other: focused on the actors and the text.

Perhaps as a result of the resources that have been available to her in the past, or perhaps due to her own creative preference, Joan finds that she is drawn to work that requires minimalism. “I’m captivated by the experience of watching characters relentlessly pursue what they want with only the bare essentials to achieve it – their bodies and voices. In stripping away other elements, this type of theatre is capable of exposing characters to their most vulnerable, human core,” says Joan.

It’s a big responsibility, giving a play a life outside of a theater, making it accessible for a different, perhaps wholly unprepared audience. And as far as bringing a play to La Casita, the entire company of The Soul of the World feels the weight of offering this piece to this community, none more so than its director. “The people at La Casita and the work they do is extraordinary” she says. “It deserves to be celebrated.” Playwright Isaac Gomez has given them nothing but richly genuine and empathetic material to work with that, with Joan’s guidance, will honor La Casita and her community, rather than just taking place within her walls.

Joan has the confidence, focus and care that are so vital for a craft requiring incredible balance, decisiveness, immense creativity and a collaborative spirit. Where better to fine tune those abilities than right here at Actors Theatre? “I’m both in the moment and outside of it. The apprenticeship is a whirlwind, and it changes every day,” says Joan.   “I’m in meetings with designers for shows I’m directing, then for mainstage shows, meetings with Les [Waters] and Meredith [McDonough] about my future,” she smiles. “I’m observing and learning from other directors in their processes and then immediately walking from their rehearsal rooms into my own.” After this apprenticeship, Joan is hoping to move to New York to continue making new work that reflects and challenges our current world.

But let’s not think about that just yet. For now, and for a little while longer, she is here at Actors Theatre of Louisville. “Returning someday would be a dream come true. And as far as this experience goes – I’m already nostalgic for it.”

The Soul of the World 
November 6 and 7 at 7 p.m. and 9 p.m.
La Casita Center
223 East Magnolia Ave

Actors Theater of Louisville
316 West Main St.
Louisville, KY 40202
Box Office: 502.584.1205
502.371.0956 TDD

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