Anne Bogart, Storyteller

Photo by Mike Ciesielski

ANNE BOGART, Artistic Director, SITI Company

When I was a school kid in Providence, Rhode Island, I was brought in on a yellow bus one day to the Trinity United Methodist Church, where the Trinity Repertory Company was performing Macbeth, directed by Adrian Hall.

I was 15 years old and that day turned me into a director.

…I didn’t understand what was happening…and yet I knew what I was going to do for the rest of my life. Be a director.

I didn’t understand a word of what was being spoken; I had never heard Shakespeare before. And I didn’t understand what was happening — there were witches coming out of the ceilings, the actors were performing all around us — and yet I knew what I was going to do for the rest of my life. Be a director.

There were regional theaters all around the country then, built by really great artists who had an appetite for theater and who did exciting work. That was true for a long time but now the artists who created those theaters are gone and the theaters, for the most part, due to economics and fear, have become timid.

I run the graduate directing program at Columbia University and as I look around the country, I see art centers in communities and at universities as the most innovative and exciting places for my graduate directors to do work. The Clarice Smith Performing Arts Center is a good example of that. When I want to do a show with my company, I’ll go to people at the Center who are open to new ideas and who will help us find a way to bring those ideas to the stage.

Performing arts centers are very open-minded, adventurous risk-taking organizations led by real entrepreneurial art-loving men and women who make things happen. And you find in them not only adventurous directors and exciting artists, but also audiences who are more diverse and more adventurous, who come with an appetite for the art. And that’s where I see life right now.