Since taking the helm as Artistic Director of Connecticut’s premier outdoor summer Shakespeare theater company three summers ago, Joanna Settle’s bold, modern, and original productions are already the stuff of legend on the Long Island Sound. This year’s production of Much Ado About Nothing has just made its migration from Rowayton to Greenwich, and New York Magazine raves that “Settle lets her notions of theatrical play run wonderfully wild” in this “absolutely effervescent” mounting of Shakespeare’s classic comedy. See where Settle gets her ideas from when we put her on our couch!
For more information on Shakespeare on the Sound or to plan a visit, visit www.shakespeareonthesound.org
Q: What do you consider to be your best asset?
Q: What was your proudest moment?
In art, the first one that leaps to mind came while I was directing a Beckett short in Chicago, a 20 minute play titled PLAY. It was installed in the window of a store. As defined by Beckett, the characters are in urns up to their necks covered in grey ash. For our production we miced the urns, and the audience was to stand on the street and watch the play through the glass, hearing through speakers. Our first night of tech a bunch of people from the subsidised housing project next to the store came out, and returned each night after. It was such an unexpected reality of making that production in a real location. People who hadn't attended theater before, certainly not Beckett, came every night to tech with me on the sidewalk. When one of the women, pretty clearly a junkie, swung by asking when we were gonna start the show (meaning that night's rehearsal) then sat on the street and said “yeah, this thing is cool. it's like a story, but with a beat or something. and it's kindof mean. I like that lady on the end. Cool.” Not sure if proud is the right word, but it felt great that they kept coming back and were connecting to Beckett text that people always yammer on about being impenetrable. Nobody had any trouble, we just had to bring it to their house. The piece had been hard to produce, the tech made it instantly all worth it.
Q: What is your favorite drink?
Whiskey, neat. or a full bodied red wine
Q: What is your favorite food?
I'm kindof a foodie, so this takes some time to consider. I flashed through wild sauteed mushrooms, every kind of cheese, avocado, seafood anything… I'm gonna say steak, to go with my whiskey. Adobe rubbed seared flank steak. Or apples and my kids peanut butter right out of the jar…depends on the day.
Q: What is your favorite condiment?
Q: What is your current obsession?
30 rock re-runs and artisanal jams
Q: If you could give up one of your vices, what would it be?
Can I pick two? Inappropriate men and coffee, in that order.
Q: What is the one professional accomplishment you long for most?
Creating a venue that pays artists a living wage to make what they want to make most, according to their own work process. If anyone has 5 million dollars they'd like to invest in a commercial venture along those lines, let me know.
Q: What is the one thing you waste too much money on?
Shoes. (though I'm not certain it's wasteful…)
Q: What is the one activity you waste too much time doing?
Dishes! The real next step in my career is doing whatever it takes to afford a place with a dishwasher.
Q: What do you consider to be the single greatest threat to your health?
Q: What is the single best trait you inherited or learned from your parents?
Q: What is the single worst trait you inherited or learned from your parents?
Q: What in the world most thrills you?
Discovery and surprise. So that would be Art, Travel and Love, I suppose.
Q: What current trend in popular culture most irritates you?
honestly…? Not to rant, but the NY Times articles applauding “show doctors”, in which producers asserted that their audiences shouldn't “worry” about the shows, because on a moment's notice the observing non-artist producers were very happy to go around the working artists if they thought something needed “fixing”. Who thinks it would comfort an audience to hear the art they had set their time aside to enjoy was being meddled with and mediated by producers? You go to see a Richard Serra sculpture or a Francis Bacon painting, you don't want to hear about the gallery swapping colors or materials. When I'm working freelance, I find collaborating with great artistic directors and producers to be not only helpful, but a joy. And certainly the Shakespeare on the Sound board of directors are not artists and work tirelessly in support of our summer production. But this self congratulatory “show doctor” promotional article in the NY Times… This idea that the art artists make is a thing that needs to be supervised and “fixed” by producers – and that somehow the audiences are comforted by that structure? Crazy. Though I'm not sure I really answered your question. Does Broadway counts as Pop culture?
Q: What was the single most embarrassing moment you've ever experienced on the job?
I was directing in LA shortly after the birth of my son and my breasts starting to leak milk in a meeting when I heard him cry. Not such an adorable story, but you asked….
Q: What is your favorite place in the world?
Anywhere remote and near an ocean.
Q: What is the most important trait you seek in a romantic partner?
I like a blend of kindness, devotion and unpredictability. But really, nothing is hotter than talent. So I usually find myself in the company of dynamic but unreasonable men.
Q: Do you prefer the company of dogs or cats?
Q: What would have to happen to make today the best day of your life?
I'd like to take the year to consider that and meet you back here next season.
Q: What is your personal motto?
It's a secret.