recently asked Katherine Kovner – co-Artistic Director of The Playwrights Realm
and director of their productions of Anna Ziegler's Dov and Ali
(which opens today) – a few questions about her current projects, favorite new playwrights and ideal performance venue.
The L: What projects are you currently working on?
I’m currently directing a production of Dov and Ali
by Anna Ziegler for The Playwrights Realm. The play follows the story of Dov, an Orthodox Jewish teacher and Ali, his strict Muslim student. Despite all their differences, they find themselves confronted with really the same dilemma – are they willing to sacrifice their personal relationships in order to stand by their religious beliefs?
What long-term ideas and projects do you hope to develop in the months and years ahead?
, the company I co-founded with John Dias, is really set up to be an incubator of new work by emerging artists. As such, I definitely do think long-term as far as the projects that attract me. For instance, this July we’re partnering with NYU to workshop several new plays and musicals over the course of an intensive two-week span. I’ll be directing one of those plays. My passion is partnering with new, emerging writers and helping them to craft their work, and that’s really reflected in the mission of the Playwrights Realm.
What’s the best show you’ve seen recently? What did you like about it?
The Cripple of Inishmaan
by Martin McDonagh was phenomenal. I love McDonagh’s biting wit and piercing understanding of the human psyche. The production itself was flawless with a wonderful cast and superb design team.
What show are you most looking forward to (other than your own)? Why are you excited about it?
I’m really looking forward to seeing Wildflower
by Lila Rose Kaplan at Second Stage Theater Uptown. I saw a reading of the play at the Lark and I think it’s a fabulous script and she’s an author to watch.
What has been your most positive experience working in the arts in New York City?
Starting The Playwrights Realm with my friend and Co Artistic Director John Dias has been the most exhilarating and wonderful experience of my professional life. It’s always a challenge to get everything done, but if it wasn’t, we wouldn’t be setting our goals high enough, would we?
What has been your worst experience working in the arts in New York City?
I was an actor for like a nanosecond in school in New York (which I guess kind of counts) – that clearly wasn’t for me so I gave it up pretty quick.
What’s your favorite New York City venue to work in? What do you like about it?
The Cherry Lane is a fabulous venue to work in. I was able to work in the mainstage venue as part of the Fringe Festival a few years back and now our show Dov and Ali is in their studio space so I’m really enjoying getting to experience that more intimate space. The Cherry Lane is an incredibly well run venue and, as a non profit itself, really supportive of artists and interested in what we're doing as a theater company.
What’s your favorite New York City venue to see a show in? What do you like about it?
I love seeing shows at Classic Stage Company. They have great fresh takes on classics and the playing space is alive with so many staging possibilities. It’s a rare staging configuration in New York and challenges artists to create very inventive theater.
If, for whatever reason, you could no longer work in theater, what would you do?
I think I’d make a pretty good therapist. That’s a large part of what I think a director needs to be able to do – really be able to listen to people and help them achieve their best in life, whether it be globally or in a performance.
If you had an opportunity to work in any other sector of the arts, what would it be? Why?
I used to be very into photography and sometimes I still miss that, but I stopped doing that when it became all about the digital image – kind of took the creativity out of it from my perspective.
What’s the best show in another sector of the arts that you’ve seen recently?
I saw a piano concert with Bruce Levingston at St Bartholemew’s Church recently with a really wonderful mix of old and modern classical music and at the end they did a couple of organ pieces. Hearing great organ pieces on a gigantic instrument in the place they are meant to be heard is really quite a spectacular and awe inspiring experience.
Dov and Ali
runs at the Cherry Lane Theater
through June 27.