Holly L. Derr

Holly L. Derr is a writer, director, and professor of theater specializing in the Viewpoints & Composition, the performance of gender, applied theater history, and new play development. Her most recent production,Comedy of Errors, ran at The Saratoga Shakespeare Company.

Originally from Dallas, TX, she holds an MFA in Directing from Columbia University, where she studied with Anne Bogart and Robert Woodruff, and a BA in Theater from The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. She was the founding Artistic Director of SKT, Inc., a New York-based non-profit theater, and has directed new plays for the California Institute of the Arts, Big Dance Theater’s Play Play Faster Faster Festival, and the PlayPenn New Play Development Festival. Holly has served on the faculties of Marlboro, Smith, and Skidmore Colleges and has taught and directed at the American Repertory Theater Institute for Advanced Theater Training at Harvard University, The Brown University/Trinity Repertory Company Consortium, CalArts, the University of California at Riverside, and Chapman University.

Holly recently directed Macbeth and her own play, American Medea, at Skidmore College, Romeo and Juliet at Opera House Arts at the Stonington Opera House, and Harry and the Thief, by Sigrid Gilmer, at The Know Theatre in Cincinnati. Favorite past projects include As Long As Fear Can Turn to WrathIn the Penal ColonySpeak, and new plays by Gregory S. Moss, Lauren Yee, Timothy Braun, and C. Denby Swanson.

Holly is also a feminist media critic who writes about theater, film, television, and comics, using the theoretical and analytical tools of the theater to reflect upon broader issues of art, culture, race and gender politics. Follow her @hld6oddblend and on Facebook.

Holly L.

NewCritcriticism & analysis

  • Branden Jacobs-Jenkins’ An Octoroon
    The author explores playwright Branden Jacobs-Jenkins adaptation of The Octoroon , called An Octoroon, and its depiction of race and gender onstage.
  • South Coast Repertory’s Pacific Playwrights Festival
    Holly L. Derr writes about SCRC's 2014 Pacific Playwrights Festival , and the goals of the organization's new play development initative.
  • Playwrights Who Write for Television
    Holly L. Derr writes about how various playwrights have gotten hired from non-TV writing, and the diversity initatives drawing in new talent.
  • Latino Theater in Los Angeles es Muy Bueno
    Holly Derr writes about the Latino Theater Company and their role operating the Los Angeles Theatre Center, presenting multi-cultural work through partnerships with other organizaitons, and engaging local communities.


Blognews, trends, insights

  • Los Angeles MFA Programs: Training for the Future
    Holly L. Derr gives an overview of new and professionally-tied graduate theatre programs in Los Angeles.
  • The Perils of Directing While Female
    Sheryl Sandberg, author of "Lean In", has just launched a campaign to "Ban Bossy," so that girls who used to be called bossy start to be told instead that they are leaders. Efforts like this to change the culture, though, are long-game solutions to an immediate problem. In the meantime, how do women directors, especially those just starting out, balance the competing demands of actually leading with gendered expectations as to what constitutes good leadership?
  • The Myth of the American Theater Pipeline
    Today, in the second decade of the twenty-first century, local artists are again asserting control over the means of production and claiming American theater for themselves. The huge Twitter response to the reference to the pipeline made at “The Summit” revealed a deeply felt frustration at the unwillingness of artistic directors to recognize that forty-year-old notions of what makes great theater are no longer relevant. Sure, New York still has more theater than most other places, but there is no longer any reason to believe that it is any better.
  • We Need to Talk About Katy Perry: Why Orientalism in Pop Culture Matters?
    Holly L. Deer unpacks just how damaging Katy Perry's orientalism really is, why pop culture's racism is running rampant, and how the political ramifications of appropriating other cultures.