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Holly L. Derr

Holly L. Derr is a director, writer, and professor of theater. Her most recent production, SuperTrue, by Karen Hartman, ran at the Know Theatre of Cincinnati.

She directs new plays and gender-flipped classics, such as Romeo and Juliet at Opera House Arts at the Stonington Opera House; Harry and the Thief, by Sigrid Gilmer, at The Know Theatre in Cincinnati; and her own play, American Medea. Favorite past projects include As Long As Fear Can Turn to Wrath at Son of Semele Theater, What We Were, by Blake Hackler, and new plays by Gregory S. Moss, C. Denby Swanson, and Lauren Yee.

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 Dramatic Arts 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 Know Theatre, Ashland New Plays Festival, and the PlayPenn New Play Development Festival. She has served on the faculties of Marlboro College, Smith College, and Skidmore College, 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. She was the 2017 Producing Fellow at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival.She is also a feminist media critic who writes about theater, film, television, and pop culture, using the theoretical and analytical tools of the theater to reflect upon broader issues of gender and race. Follow her @hld6oddblend or on Facebook.

#MeToo
Essay

#MeToo

Power, Complicity, and Collective Responsibility

April 11, 2018

Holly L. Derr writes about recent cases of sexual harassment in the American theatre, and asks when and how institutions and abusers will truly be held accountable.

Manahatta's Gender Flip
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Manahatta's Gender Flip

Equity in Action

April 02, 2018

Holly Derr discusses the dramaturgical implications of playwright Mary Kathryn Nagle changing one of her characters to a woman in her newest play Manahatta, which premiered at Oregon Shakespeare Festival in March 2018.

Addressing Environmental Topics in Theatre by Using Greenturgy
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Addressing Environmental Topics in Theatre by Using Greenturgy

January 02, 2018

Holly Derr interrogates green(drama)turgy at Oregon Shakespeare Festival and how stories can be used to reconnect people to their physical world.

Does Your Theatre Department Have a Patriarchy Problem?
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Does Your Theatre Department Have a Patriarchy Problem?

December 17, 2017

Director and theatre professor Holly Derr gives advice on how to identify whether your theatre department might be ripe for sexual harrassment, and offers tangible steps for professors to change the culture of their departments.

Ethnodrama and Her Opponent
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Ethnodrama and Her Opponent

 The Drama in the Data

May 26, 2017

Holly L. Derr looks at ethnodrama and Her Opponent, a restaging of excerpts of the 2016 presidential debates with gender-reversed casting.

Truthful Intelligence
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Truthful Intelligence

A Play about Power and Politics

February 23, 2017

Holly Derr writes about Jacqueline E. Lawton’s new play at Arena Stage, part of their Power Plays commissioning initiative.

Feminist Theatre
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Feminist Theatre

What Does it Do and How Does it Do it?

September 14, 2016

Holly Derr contemplates how a director can foster a feminist production.

Roe and the American Revolutions Cycle at OSF
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Roe and the American Revolutions Cycle at OSF

Dramatic, Present, and Human

September 10, 2016

In this cultural moment of divisiveness, how is one of the true stories of abortion theatricalized? Holly Derr considers Oregon Shakespeare Festival’s co-production of Roe by Lisa Loomer. 

Bro Theatre
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Bro Theatre

A Dangerous Dynamic

April 30, 2016

Holly L. Derr deconstructs a new dynamic in her theatre department.

Lynn Nottage Talks Research, Collaboration, and the Fracturing of America
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Lynn Nottage Talks Research, Collaboration, and the Fracturing of America

January 28, 2016

Holly Derr speaks with Lynn Nottage about her new play Sweat a co-commission of Oregon Shakespeare Festival and Arena Stage, currently playing in Washington, DC.

Women’s Voices Theater Festival
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Women’s Voices Theater Festival

A Weekend in the Emerald City

November 10, 2015

Holly L. Derr on Destiny of Desire by Karen Zacarías, Animal by Claire Lizzimore, Queens Girl in the World by Caleen Sinette Jennings, Women Laughing Alone with Salad by Sheila Callaghan, and Uprising by Gabrielle Fulton, all part of the Women’s Voices Theater Festival in Washington, DC.

Something is Afoot in Washington, DC
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Something is Afoot in Washington, DC

October 07, 2015

Holly Derr reports on the Women’s Voices Theater Festival, bringing together more than 50 of the Washington, DC’s professional theaters to feature world premieres of new plays and musicals by women.

Branden Jacobs-Jenkins’ An Octoroon
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Branden Jacobs-Jenkins’ An Octoroon

March 26, 2015

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
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South Coast Repertory’s Pacific Playwrights Festival

June 03, 2014

Holly L. Derr writes about SCRC's 2014 Pacific Playwrights Festival, and the goals of the organization's new play development initative.

Los Angeles MFA Programs
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Los Angeles MFA Programs

Training for the Future

April 30, 2014

Holly L. Derr gives an overview of new and professionally-tied graduate theatre programs in Los Angeles.

The Perils of Directing While Female
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The Perils of Directing While Female

March 14, 2014

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?

Playwrights Who Write for Television
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Playwrights Who Write for Television

March 04, 2014

Holly L. Derr writes about how various playwrights have gotten hired from non-TV writing, and the diversity initatives drawing in new talent.

The Myth of the American Theater Pipeline
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The Myth of the American Theater Pipeline

February 24, 2014

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.

Latino Theater in Los Angeles es Muy Bueno
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Latino Theater in Los Angeles es Muy Bueno

February 04, 2014

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.

Dispatches from LALA Land
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Dispatches from LALA Land

Diversity and Its Discontents in Southern Californian Theater

January 07, 2014

Holly L. Derr reports from The Society of Stage Directors and Choreographers's panel on diversity, and examines why diversity is such a huge talking point but still so lacking in action

Dispatches from LALA Land
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Dispatches from LALA Land

Double Casting and The Antaeus Company

December 24, 2013

Holly L. Derr writes about The Antaeus Company and the evolution of their "partner casting" practice, where each role is cast with two actors.

We Need to Talk About Katy Perry
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We Need to Talk About Katy Perry

Why Orientalism in Pop Culture Matters?

December 06, 2013

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.

Platonov and Anton Chekhov's Proto-Grunge Philosophy
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Platonov and Anton Chekhov's Proto-Grunge Philosophy

December 05, 2013

Jay Scheib's adaptation of Anton Chekhov’s Platnov titled Platonov, or The Disinherited merges with grunge culture-drugs, sex, and alcohol to take a look at values and viewpoints. 

Dispatches from LALA Land
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Dispatches from LALA Land

Interdisciplinary Art at Radar L.A.

November 05, 2013

Holly L. Derr covers Radar L.A. 2013, an interdisciplinary and internationally focused theater festival in Los Angeles theater

Dispatches from LALA Land
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Dispatches from LALA Land

California Women Got it On Lock

October 24, 2013

According to the LA Stage Alliance, there are about 25 female artistic directors in the greater-Los Angeles area. Though I was initially cheered, that number, it turns out, represents only about 8 percent of Los Angeles' artistic directors.