ST. LOUIS, Missouri — Theater director May Adrales has won the Alan Schneider Director Award from Theatre Communications Group (TCG), a support organization for theater companies and artists. A native of Covington, Virginia, she was born to Filipino parents.
Adrales was bestowed the recognition in St. Louis, Missouri, where TCG’s annual national conference was held this year. Filipino American leaders TCG include board member Randy Reyes, artistic director of Mu Performing Arts in Minneapolis, Minnesota, and director of artistic programs Emilya Cachapero.
The award identifies and assists “exceptional directors whose talent has been demonstrated through work in specific regions, but who may not be well known nationally.”
The recipient receives $7,500 which may be used for travel, research, or related developmental activities.
Adrales was named associate artistic director of Milwaukee Repertory Theater for its 2017-2018 season. She directed the group’s productions of Ayad Akhtar’s “The Who and The What” last year and an adaptation of George Orwell’s “Animal Farm” earlier this year.
Adrales’ work as a freelance director spans across the country. Of note, she has directed the world premiere (in Costa Mesa, California) and several stagings (New York; Ashland, Oregon and Seattle) of Qui Nguyen’s play “Vietgone.”
(Filipino American actors Flordelino Lagundino and Sherwin Resureccion were in the cast of a “Vietgone” production last year by Mixed Blood Theater in Minneapolis, Minnesota. This year, San Diego Repertory Theatre’s Jan.–Feb. staging was directed by Jesca Prudencio; Studio Theatre’s April–May Washington, DC production featured Regina Aquino, Marc delaCruz and Eileen Rivera. Writers Theatre’s Aug.–Sept. Chicago staging later this year includes Rammel Chan and Emjoy Gavino in the cast; East West Player’s Oct.–Nov. Los Angeles production will be helmed by Fil-Am director Jennifer Chang.)
Adrales is also known for her administrative and teaching work. She served as Director of On Site Programs at Lark Play Development Center, an Artistic Associate and faculty member at the Public Theater, spearheading its Shakespeare Lab, and directed and taught at Juilliard, New York University, Brown University, and Yale University, where she received her master’s degree in directing and theater production.
In her acceptance speech, Adrales addressed the lack of Asians and women in the theater industry by noting that she had never seen Asians on stage until she saw Jessica Hagedorn’s play “Dogeaters” at The Public Theater and that, in the early part of her career, she had never worked as an assistant director with a director who was woman or person of color.
“Representation matters. Telling stories that have not found their way into the main stream matters. Dismantling stereotypes and reframing history to reflect those who have been left out of the telling of that history. This [award] matters. I am a living testament to that,” she said.
“I want to show that work directed by me, or women like me, works written by women and or artists of color are not risky. They are essential. They are essentially American.”
Adrales’ upcoming productions include “The Way the Mountain Moved,” which she directed for the Oregon Shakespeare Festival. The cast includes Fil-Am actor Julian Remulla.
The play, written by Idris Goodwin, is about a US Army lieutenant, a sharpshooter, botanist, and an artist who are surveying a route for the planned transcontinental railroad in the 1850s and the individuals (lost pioneers, cautious Native Americans and an African American Mormon couple) whom they encounter.
“We tell the story how the west was really won or lost by the escaped slaves, Native Americans, immigrants, and those fleeing religious persecution that inhabited it,” Adrales said.
She is scheduled to direct Lin-Manuel Miranda’s musical “In The Heights” for a co-production between three theater companies later in the year: Milwaukee Repertory Theater (Sept.–Oct.), Seattle Repertory Theatre (Nov. –Dec. 30) and Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park (Jan.–Feb. 2019).
WATCH May Adrales talk about “In The Heights”
Next year, she is slated to direct Lloyd Suh’s “The Chinese Lady” for Milwaukee Rep (Feb.–March 2019), about Afong Moy, a woman from China put on display to the American public; and Qui Nguyen’s “Poor Yella Rednecks,” part two of his Vietgone trilogy, for South Coast Repertory (March–April 2019).
“The Way the Mountain Moved” runs July 10–Oct. 28 at Thomas Theatre,15 S. Pioneer St., Ashland, Oregon. Visit OsfAshland.org.
“In The Heights” kicks off in Milwaukee in September. Visit Milwaukeerep.com.
READ about May Adrales being appointed associate artistic director of Milwaukee Repertory Theater here.
READ about Randy Reyes being named a board member of TCG here.