Works by Women

Supporting creative work by women

Interview: Erica Schmidt

On Thursday, Works by Women posted an interview with playwright Stefanie Zadravec, whose award-winning play Honey Brown Eyes opens tomorrow at The Clurman at Theatre Row in New York City.  Today, we have an interview with the play’s director Erica Schmidt.


Schmidt’s directing credits include The Burnt Part Boys (The Vineyard and New York Stage and Film); Rent (Tokyo); Chekhov’s Uncle Vanya, Gilbert and Sullivan’s The Sorcerer and Copland’s The Tender Land (all at Bard Summer Scape); Carnival (The Paper Mill Playhouse); People Be Heard (Playwrights Horizons); Trust (The Play Company, Callaway Award nominee); and As You Like It (The Public Theater/NYSF, chashama and New York International Fringe Festival 2000 Winner for Best Direction).  She and performer Lorenzo Pisoni co-created Humor Abuse (Manhattan Theatre Club), which won a slew of awards: Lucille Lortel, Outer Critics, Drama Desk and Obie Award. Schmidt wrote the adaptation and directed the Off-Broadway production of Debbie Does Dallas. She received the 2001 Princess Grace Award.

1) I am a huge fan of the award-winning play Humor Abuse.   I haven’t seen Honey Brown Eyes yet, but the pieces seem very different.  What inspires you to work on different projects?

I choose projects for lots of reasons: story, heart, humor.  I love Stefanie’s play, Honey Brown Eyes, because it has heart and humor and because it says something true about people in war.  It offers hope – it offers kindness in the face of man’s worst inhumanity to man.  She is acknowledging the worst that we are capable of (the kinds of brutality and genocidal crimes that were everyday events in the Bosnian war) and she is suggesting (through the act of creating characters that have wit and charm, that love music and are so deeply relatable) how we could be better.

2) Why is Honey Brown Eyes a must see play for 2011?

Honey Brown Eyes is a must see play because it’s smart and funny and sexy and because we are a nation at war.  As Americans, it’s easy to forget or to ignore what the day-to-day existence is like, for civilians, in an urban war zone is.  Honey Brown Eyes is set in two kitchens in Bosnia in 1992, but it could easily be taking place in Iraq or Afganistan or New York City.

3) As a female director, what do you think the biggest challenge facing female theatre artists is at the moment?

I don’t think about it.

4) What’s next for you?

I’m directing Jonas Hassen Khemiri’s Invasion, for the Play Company, at the Walker Space, opening in February.

Works by Women will see Honey Brown Eyes on Wednesday, January 12th.

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