Rae of Hope: Climate Change, the ATA, and Laurie Rae Waugh

Laurie Rae Waugh is one of DramaQueens’ women of the arts of the century having been spotlighted in all our sites. This is becasue she is the epitome of journey[wo]man.

Stage Manager => Director; Stage Actress => Film Actress; Film Director => Festival Producer. Waugh is a shining example of what ambition, knowledge, and total openhearted creativity can accomplish. Are we surprised that she would serve as commander of the series of ploys meant to save the world?

“Footprints of the Polar Bear and Other Eco-Centric Plays” is a festival of one-act plays by acclaimed playwright, Phil Paradis that will run at the legendary American Theatre of Actors, 314 West 54th Street, Fourth Floor. The limited run will be November 13-16 and November 20-23 at 8:00 p.m. with matinees on November 17 & 24 at 3:00 p.m. Tickets are $20 and will be on sale on or before November 1. The event is co-produced by Ms. Waugh.

Ms. Waugh contributes her directing services with the featured event of the night, the titular “Footprints of the Polar Bear.” Ms. Waugh has been a theatre artist in New York since 1980. She racked up awards (including several Dalrymple Awards) for premieres of the plays, Mirrors, A Spanish Harlem Story, and Code Name Daniel to name a few. She was also nominated for an MITF Award for Outstanding Direction of Ellen And Troy And Eloise at The Midtown International Theatre Festival.

“I worked with several directors on more than one occasion and I got the benefit of watching them work.  I realized that I wanted to follow in their footsteps and become a director.  I am an organic and passionate director.  I usually have a vision on how the play should look.  I give the actors the freedom to explore and we always seem to get to my vision together,” says the veteran arts leader looking back on a career filled with great shows and the praise to prove it. 

Ms Waugh is the recipient of Off-Off Broadway’s FIRST Award – Jean Dalrymple
(left and right) and in the center, she is with friend and colleague,
Jessica Jennings, the daughter of ATA founder, James Jennings.
Ms. Jennings is an integral member of ATA as well as board president
of Ripple Effect Artists. 


What is your directing style? Does it change per show?

I am an organic and in the moment director.  I love working with actors at all levels.  I give them the freedom to explore their characters as we break down the script.  I like working a scene several times by stopping and starting or going completely through.  This way we can find the truth and vulnerability of each character. I attempt to be as consistent with my approach with each and every play I direct.  I think the only time my approach changed was when I was directing a comedy. 

What brought you to these plays?

I had read several of the plays a couple of years ago but didn’t put two and two together until I was asked to be a part of this evening.  I can see how these plays fit together to tell a story about our environment and what we can do to shift the course of climate change for future generations.

What made you take this on as a producer?

Jessica Jennings had started the process last year by reading plays by Phil Paradis. She found 5 plays that had a general theme and put the evening together.   As directors were being chosen, I was asked to direct the feature play of the evening.  I reached out to my publicist, Jay Michaels of Jay Michaels Arts & Entertainment to help with the publicity of the project.  That is when my producer hat went on.  I felt the best way to get the word out was to get my publicist Jay working with us.

What new opportunities and obstacles did you/ are you/ will you encounter as a festival producer?

Well there have been quite a few obstacles that we have encountered.  The first one, finding male actors over the age of 60 to audition as the makeup of the casts are 9 men and 2 women, with 6 male characters over the age of 60.  The other obstacle is making sure that all directors get enough rehearsal time and that is where the main producer comes in with booking rehearsal time for all 5 directors.  The opportunities for this project are working with some wonderful directors and getting to see some new actors.  Also making sure that the plays flow well from one to the other and we have them in the right order. 

img_5412What made you decide to do THIS group of plays?

They all had a common theme, climate change!  They were all written by the same playwright, Phil Paradis.  This group of plays tells a story about our environment and where we might end up if we don’t do something about it now.  Each play covers a different part of climate change.

You are a staple at the ATA…what’s the allure?

I love directing there.  James Jennings is very supportive and he allows me to select the plays I want to direct.  If I don’t have anything lined up to direct, then I can read some of the plays that have been sent in to ATA and find my next project.  He continues to give me feedback on every play I direct at ATA.   I get to work with a great group of people.  I have the opportunity to work with some the same playwrights and I also get to read a group of new plays from different playwrights.  I love being able to find new plays that call to me and being able to have them go up at ATA.   





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