Welcome to the New Rep community! Are you involved in theater as well?
I’m not professionally involved, but I’m “theater adjacent.” I like to watch creativity happen. And so I regularly attend plays and events at Michael’s theater and participate in his outreach activities. I also attend performances at other theaters—but not to the extent Michael does! He typically sees four plays a week; I may see one a month.
Have you participated in outreach since you and Michael moved here?
We recently hosted a dinner at our home for several artistic directors, including Kate Snodgrass of Boston Playwrights Theatre and Lee Mikeska Gardner of the Nora Theatre Company.It turned out to be a rare opportunity for them to get together informally to share ideas and experiences. But that’s typical of what Michael does. He has the impetus to change things up, build communities, keep learning. We plan to host these dinners once a month, with different groups of theater people—managing directors, actors, etc.
Where are you and Michael living now?
We’re in Cambridge, just off Harvard Square. It’s a small place but big enough for us and for Michael’s son, Sang, who’s a freshman at University of Florida. The location is ideal. Michael has a short drive to New Rep and I love the vibe. As a marketing consultant, I’m currently working from home. So it’s great to be able to walk out the door and be among so many people, in such an invigorating environment.
What comes to mind when you think of Michael in his professional role?
Michael has a strong voice and is a big thinker. He’s unafraid to bring up important issues, and he’s not afraid to listen. He is super serious about what he does, yet he knows people need fun—and he brings fun into the theatrical experience for everyone: staff, performers, audience, you name it. He even organizes carpools for theatergoers during his introduction before each performance! They love it.
What else should we know about Michael?
He is real. All that enthusiasm and warmth is real; it’s him. He loves what he does, is passionate about it. He NEVER tires. I’m not sure everyone knows he’s also a writer and choreographer. Or that he was a dancer himself. Or how unique it is for New Rep to have an African American artistic director—not just because it’s a first for the theater but because there are shockingly few in the entire country. Michael is positioned to make a difference, just as he did in DC: growing and diversifying audiences, attracting and fostering great talent, creating inclusive educational opportunities, tapping into the extraordinarily rich local culture. He’s already funded and implemented “consensus organizing”—new to the Boston theater scene, I’m told—which engages the larger community in the process of staging a show. One thing you can count on: Michael knows how to create deep connections. He will find people on the ground to make things happen.