Q&A with The Wolves director and Point Park University alumna Rachel M. Stevens

 

Tell us about your career path.

I studied musical theater and received my Bachelor of Fine Arts from Point Park University in 2009. I knew while in school that I wanted to be a director, as I would often find myself looking at the big picture on stage. I always wanted to think about the full world of the play. I obtained my Master of Fine

 Arts in 2014 in directing at The Actors Studio Drama School at Pace University, a graduate program in the theater arts.

After I completed grad school, I was lucky enough to start working in rooms with professionals who really championed my education and access to opportunities, so I was exposed to some great mentorship very early in my career.

What is your life like as a director, teaching artist and acting coach?

I am based in New York City and live in Brooklyn. I am most satisfied when piecing together my professional and educational work. I serve as a monologue coach for Musical Theatre College Additions (MTCA), a pre-college program that prepares students for college auditions. I also work for a few non- profit educational organizations, most recently serving as a production advisor with the Broadway Jr. Program implementing musical theater programming for middle school-aged students in the New York City public school system. Opportunities to connect with students in combination with my directing projects in New York and regionally are what keep my brain and my heart most happy.

In Pittsburgh, I have worked with Quantum Theatre, the City Theatre and Front Porch Theatricals, and now, the Pittsburgh Playhouse.

How did the Point Park directing opportunity come about?

The conversation first started some time ago with Ron Allen-Lindblom, the former artistic director. He recommended The Wolves, as he thought it would be a great fit for me. The production was scheduled  for this season and I was invited to direct.

What struck you when you first saw The Wolves at Lincoln Center?

When I first saw The Wolves, I was moved to see a play focused on exploring young women’s experience of the world without the influence of their male counterparts. It is most common to see women in theater, specifically young women, defined by the men in their story. I fell in love with this powerful play about friendship and teamwork. The play honestly depicts a young person’s chaotic journey towards self-actualization, unabashedly revealing the raw and terrifying but thrilling experience of growing up a woman today.

I am honored to be invited back to direct the Pittsburgh Playhouse production and champion the play as an opportunity for conversation.  

The Wolves is about becoming strong women, tell us how you’ve dealt with being a strong woman in this business.

When I was in school, I saw my female identifying peers struggling to stand in their strength, in their bodies and voices. I felt this way myself.  Very early on in my development as a director, it became clear to me that part of my mission as a storyteller was to create a space where women, and frankly everyone, could feel like who they are is enough. Artists give so much of themselves to create work that reflects and challenges our perspective as the world, I feel it’s my responsibility as a director to cultivate a space where the safety to explore and express is baked in. That’s a huge part of my process.

For me personally, I’ve come up against folks in the industry who’ve made judgments based on my age, my size, my voice and my femininity. But I have always felt fueled by my passion to create a nurturing, warm environment. You don’t need to be hard to be a leader. Hard and strong are very different things. I was lucky that very early on I saw incredible examples of that philosophy put to practice by my mentors both male and female identifying directors.

You started as an actor, do you miss it?

I still love acting and do act on occasion. It’s how I grew up and what I’ve done since I was a kid, but I’m most fulfilled when I’m directing.