Monica Payne

Trap Door credits

  • Into the Empty Sky
  • Trash Story (International Voices Project)
  • Gardenia (International Voices Project)

Monica Payne (she/her/hers) is a Trap Door resident director and has been with the company since 2017. Monica is a theatre and film director, whose work intersects bold physicality, deep emotion, and collective ritual. She is the founder of Theatre Lumina, an ensemble devoted to cross-cultural collaboration and international exchange. Her projects include devised work, literary adaptations, and new plays, as well as short films and music videos. Her most recent new piece, Song of Home, toured internationally in February of 2020. Payne has directed throughout the U.S., including New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, New Orleans, and Pittsburgh. She is a Resident Director at Trap Door Theatre and is a member of SDC, The Lincoln Center Director’s Lab, and Director’s Lab West. Previously an actress, she has worked with many prestigious ensembles, including Steppenwolf Theatre Company. Payne holds an MFA in Directing from the UCLA School of Theatre, Film, and Television, and has been a Meisner-based acting teacher for many years. She has taught for The School at Steppenwolf, Steppenwolf Classes West, The Latino Theatre Company, The Robert Mello Studio, The Artistic Home, and her own studios in L.A. and Chicago. At the college level, she has taught at UCLA, Carnegie Mellon, and Point Park University, where she also served as the Head of Graduate Acting. She is currently an Assistant Professor at Tulane University (New Orleans), where she is Head of Performance and Head of Directing. For more information, visit her website:

Payne’s favorite line from a Trap Door production:

“I eat the sky. I excrete the sky.” —Into the Empty Sky