2013 Salon: Q&A with Directors Q&A Panelist Ken Rus Schmoll

The 4th Annual Working Theater Directors Salon kicks off TONIGHT!  Join us at our opening night party tonight (at which you can actually put your name in a hat and be directing something that goes up on Sunday!),  attend panels with directors and artistic directors on Tuesday and Wednesday, and enjoy our final performances on Saturday and Sunday – please stop by the June Havoc Theatre this week and and take advantage of the free opportunities we offer for emerging NYC directors!

Tomorrow night is our Directors Q&A Panel at which professional NYC directors Nelson Eusebio, Ken Rus Schmoll, Daniella Topol, and Tamilla Woodard will be sharing how they built their careers as well as answering any questions you may have about the directing world.  Below, Directors Q&A Panelist Ken Rus Schmoll (co-chair of the Soho Rep Writer/Director Lab, another great group for emerging directors and playwrights!) shares his creative habits and what excites him about new work.

Ken Rus Schmoll with Jenny Schwartz at the Sundance Theatre Institute rehearsing Iowa, the musical she is writing with Todd Almond.

Ken Rus Schmoll with Jenny Schwartz at the Sundance Theatre Institute rehearsing Iowa, the musical she is writing with Todd Almond.

Working Theater: What do you enjoy most about working on new plays?

Ken Rus Schmoll: There is never a single way to direct a play, but with new plays there is the first way, which carries a big responsibility. The task requires deep investigation of the play, of the playwright, and of myself. The production wants to satisfy — and also surprise! — all three equally. The challenge is like a drug.

WT: How did you become a director?

KRS: It was a bit of a fluke. I directed first as an undergrad, but pursued playwriting right after college. Years later I applied to the Columbia directing program on a whim (I had studied with Anne Bogart and the SITI Company up in Saratoga Springs) and got in. “I guess I’m going to be a director,” I thought.

WT: Do you have a “creative habit?”

KRS: I wrote down everything my professors said during grad school — ideas, tools, advice. I continue to collect wisdom and inspiration from books, conversations, interviews, films, etc. All of this is gathered in a book, and before I start a new rehearsal process, I reread this book. I add to it all the time. On the one hand, it helps me to prepare practically. On the other hand, it keeps me humble; reminds me of all the people whose shoulders I stand on.

WT: What’s next for you?

KRS: I am working with Ain Gordon on his play Not What Happened which will tour a bit and wind up at BAM this fall. After that I’ll direct George Brant’s Grounded for Page 73. I’ve also been working with Jenny Schwartz and Todd Almond on their new musical Iowa; we’ll be at New York Stage and Film this summer.

Ken Rus Schmoll will be joining fellow directors Nelson Eusebio, Daniella Topol, and Tamilla Woodard on the Directors Q&A Panel of the 4th Annual Working Theater Directors Salon at 7:00pm on Tuesday, June 18th at the June Havoc Theatre at the Abingdon Theatre Arts Complex (312 W. 36th St., 1st Floor).  The event is FREE!  Click here to RSVP.

For more information about the Directors Q&A Panel and the 4th Annual Working Theater Directors Salon, visit our website or check us out on Facebook, and feel free to e-mail wtdirectors@gmail.com with any questions.

Ken Rus Schmoll is freelance theater director, primarily of new plays, who grew up in Bloomfield, Connecticut, and lives in Brooklyn, New York. He is currently directing Ain Gordon’s Not What Happened, which will tour and wind up at BAM in the fall. Recent work includes Alexander Dinelaris’s Red Dog Howls (New York Theatre Workshop), Ethan Lipton’s Luther (Clubbed Thumb), Ellen Maddow’s The Peripherals (The Talking Band), Lucas Hnath’s Death Tax (Humana Festival), Erin Courtney’s A Map of Virtue (13P), Will Eno’s Middletown (Vineyard Theatre), and Wolfgang Rihm’s opera Proserpina(Spoleto Festival USA). He is the recipient of two OBIE Awards, an affiliated artist with Clubbed Thumb, a Sundance Theatre Institute alum, and co-chair, with Jenny Schwartz, of the Soho Rep Writer/Director Lab. Upcoming: George Brant’s Grounded (Page 73).

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