Monica Payne

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Monica Payne is a freelance director and the founder of Theatre Lumina, a company devoted to cross-cultural collaboration and international exchange. She recently directed the Jeff-recommended Into the Empty Sky at Trap Door. Other recent projects include Our Country’s Good by Timberlake Wertenbaker for the UCLA School of Theater, Film and Television. In Summer 2016, she co-directed Camino Real by Tennessee Williams for CSU Summer Arts/Steppenwolf Classes West. She spent much of 2015/16 working on Trash Story, an award-winning Polish play by Magda Fertacz. She directed full productions in both New York (Kulture+ Productions) and Los Angeles (UCLA TFT), as well as a staged reading for the International Voices Project (representing Trap Door) in Chicago. She has made two trips to Poland in recent years with the Adam Mickiewicz Institute to further her understanding of contemporary Polish drama.  Other projects include a critically acclaimed production of Toni Morrison’s The Bluest Eye for the Pittsburgh Playhouse; Ploughman from Bohemia for Theatre Lumina; Racine’s Phedre; Euripides’ Hecuba; Mark Twain’s Huck Finn; her own adaptation of Innocent Erendira and her Heartless Grandmother by Gabriel Garcia Marquez; Euripides’ Elektra; William Inge’s Natural Affection; and Sam Shepard’s Savage Love. She assisted Jose Luis Valenzuela on the Goodman Theatre’s Destiny of Desire, Georges Bigot (formerly of Theatre du Soleil) on Macbeth for Theatre Y, and Brian Kite on an award-winning production of Miss Saigon, which subsequently toured in China. She has recently begun directing music videos, including “We Are” and “The Old Man and his Daughter” for Kaitlin Huwe.EmptySkyCircle copy

A former actress, Payne has appeared on stage with Steppenwolf, The Artistic Home, The Hypocrites, The Journeymen, Famous Door, and Collaboraction, among others.  She is a member of the 2008 Lincoln Center Director’s Lab in New York, as well as the 2012 Director’s Lab West in Los Angeles.

Payne’s selections and direction make tangible the confusing experience of lurching between normality and horror. -Jacob Davis, Around the Town Chicago

Payne has been a Meisner teacher for almost 20 years, and has taught both acting and directing for various universities, including UCLA, Carnegie Mellon, and Point Park University, where she also served as the Head of Graduate Acting for two years. She has taught for The School at Steppenwolf, The Artistic Home and The Audition Studio, as well as her own studio in Los Angeles.  She has an affiliation with Steppenwolf Classes West and teaches ongoing Meisner-based classes in Chicago.  She holds an M.F.A. in Directing from the UCLA School of Theater, Film and Television.

Mundanity and profundity weave together in both Szymborska’s verse and in Payne’s cunning staging. – Kerry Reid, Chicago Tribune

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Chicago Reader names Trap Door Theatre as runner up for Best Off Loop Theatre Company! Best of Chicago 2018

Time Out Chicago recognizes Trap Door as one of the best storefront theatres in the city!

Trap Door welcomes
New Resident Director: Monica Payne
and New Resident Sound Designer: Danny Rockett

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