A few years ago, I wrote a story for American Theatre on Chicago as a great town for stage directors. One name that wasn’t totally on my radar then has since become a top favorite. Georgette Verdin, who has been managing artistic director for Interrobang Theatre Project since 2015, has a special gift for bringing stories of what she describes as “identity, grief, unprocessed trauma, and the intimate lives of women” to compelling life onstage.
A short list of plays helmed by Verdin (who is queer and Cuban American) demonstrating that gift includes 2021’s This Wide Night (by Chloë Moss), about two former “cellies” sharing a squalid bedsit in London; last spring’s Spay (by Madison Fiedler) about two sisters in West Virginia dealing with the reality of opioid addiction; and September’s Enough to Let the Light In (by Paloma Nozicka), in which two women in love confront secrets both supernatural and entirely too human. She also won raves last fall for her production of James Sherman’s Chagall in School with Grippo Stage Company.
Verdin doesn’t need to rely upon conceptual flourishes to make a splash. Instead, she builds the relationships between characters and text with careful attention to each small moment that reveals bigger truths about grief, joy, and everything in between, bringing audiences right up to the jagged edge of those emotional revelations. Her local profile has been growing: she was the Michael Maggio directing fellow at Goodman last year and was just named associate artistic director at Northlight. I’d hate to lose her entirely, but Verdin gets my vote as a Chicago director who deserves national attention too.
Best of chicago: Arts & Culture
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