People You Should Know... Kimberly Faith Hickman
Kimberly Faith Hickman is a freelance director and choreographer in New York City. She has worked on Broadway and Off Broadway with productions at Atlantic Theatre Company, Women's Project, Epic Theatre Ensemble, The Studio Theatre at Theatre Row, PTP/NYC at Atlantic Stage 2, as well as terraNOVA Collective, The Attic Theatre Company and Horse Trade Theater Group at Under St. Marks. Regional credits: Mark Taper Forum, Williamstown Theatre Festival, Westport Country Playhouse, Next Act Theatre, Springer Opera House, Off Square Theatre, Playhouse on the Square and national tours. Assistant Directing: Clybourne Park on Broadway and Mark Taper Forum with Pam MacKinnon, Gabriel with David Esbjornson, Smudge with Pam MacKinnon, Quartermaine's Terms with Maria Aitken, and Children with John Tillinger. She also worked on The Scottsboro Boys on Broadway, directed / choreographed by Susan Stroman. BFA in Theatre Performance and Directing from Columbus State University, Directors Lab West 2011 Alumni, Mike Ockrent Directing Fellowship on Broadway finalist, Manhattan Theatre Club Directing Fellowship candidate, proud member of SDC. Visitwww.kimberlyfaithhickman.com
How did you get started in theatre? When did you know you wanted to be a director?
I was introduced to theatre when I was 3 years old and I saw a production of Annie. I was such an engrossed audience member, and to see a group of little girls who looked so happy, singing and dancing on stage? I wanted to do that! So my parents enrolled me in dance classes, and thus began my journey into theatre. But obviously the older I got, I developed more mature reasons for wanting to be in this field. It was reading Angels in America that really solidified it for me. That play had such a profound affect on my life and made me a more empathetic human being. I often wonder what kind of person would I be, had it not been for that play. After reading it, I couldn't imagine working in any other industry. It was in college that I began taking directing classes. I give full credit to Dr. Hazel Hall Brennan (my directing teacher) for telling me "you're good at this", and believing that this was an area where I could shine. After college I started directing (and choreographing) more, and performing less, and I discovered where I felt most confident - and it definitely wasn’t on stage. Directing gave me such joy, whereas performing gave me such anxiety because I was always in my head. Not a good place for an actor to be. I love the collaborative story telling aspect of directing and it appeals to my analytical side.
Tell me about GroundWorks. How do you feel rehearsals are going? What do you love most about the plays that you are directing?
GroundWorks is a series of new plays written by the 2011-2012 terraNOVA Collective Groundbreakers Playwrights Group, made up of six writers. This is my first year to be involved with them, and it has been incredibly exciting. Each writer has a very unique voice and their plays are very different. It’s been thrilling to see how each of their plays have developed over the course of the year. I am directing Jennifer Lane’s The Seer & The Witch, a play about two women living a century apart, who reside in the same room at a mental institution. We haven’t begun rehearsals yet because we are waiting for one of our actors to return from performing in The Great Gatsby in California, but pre-production work is going well. I really love the script. It’s like the vibrator play and Arcadia, with some aspects of Angels in America, all rolled into one. Our amazing cast consists of Sofia Gomez, Megan Channell, Jens Rasmussen, Maria Maloney, Jed Dickson and Carly Robins. Most of these actors helped developed the play for the last several months, and we are incredibly lucky to have them for the GroundWorks performance.
What kind of writing inspires you?
I believe theatre is a form of activism. I love plays that can challenge an audience member’s point of view, even if it is only for a tiny fraction of a moment. It is an excellent tool for starting a dialogue amongst audience members, thus evoking change in society and in the lives of individuals. I have experienced it in my own life, and I have witnessed it while sitting in an audience. Having those experiences while being surrounded by other audience members, is a unique type of communion that can never be replicated. It is exciting, emotional, heart wrenching and joyful. Theatre with that kind of power is vital to our way of life. Clybourne Park, Doubt, The Scottsboro Boys, Angels in America, The Normal Heart, the vibrator play, Doubt, I Am My Own Wife - the list goes on and on. Those are the kinds of scripts that inspire me. It is the kind of theatre I love to see, and the kind of theatre I want to create.
Who or what has been the biggest influence on your work as a director thus far?
David Esbjornson and Pam MacKinnon are directors who have had the biggest influences on me. They are straight forward story tellers and have an amazing way of collaborating. I am really inspired by Moises Kaufman and the work of Tectonic Theatre Project, as well as George C. Wolfe. And there are several regional theatre directors who mentored and hired me right out college, for whom I am truly grateful!
What else are you working on right now?
Assistant directing Pulitzer Prize winner Clybourne Park on Broadway, playing at the Walter Kerr Theatre. Visitwww.clybournepark.com and buy tickets!