The real voyage of discovery, Proust told us, is not about seeing new landscapes, but having new eyes. The inner expansion he’s describing - the moment when you see life from a different perspective is the driving heartbeat of why I tell stories on stage. I want audiences who watch my work to be moved outside of themselves, to see from another’s point of view, even if only for a moment. I want them to ask questions, to wrestle with thoughts they’d rather not think, and ultimately, to experience the voyage of discovery that comes when our empathy for one another is multiplied in that peculiar way that theatre can accomplish best. These are lofty, idealistic goals, of course. But if I’ve discovered nothing else about myself as an artist, I know that these pursuits are worth the risk.

That discipline to find compelling ways to surprise and delight audiences with new perspectives is one I try to cultivate for myself as an artist. Whenever I come across a style of show that I haven’t worked on or a kind of world I haven’t experienced, my strong desire is to explore it, to find my way in, and discover what speaks to me in the heart of the material. I find myself seeking out chances to broaden my exposure to different kinds of cultures and theatrical experiences. I like chasing what scares me about a piece and seeing what approach will serve the material in a surprising way.

As an artist, I want to be known for my range and my ability to handle many different kinds of productions. Whether it’s a large-scale musical, a farce, or a gritty, two-person drama, I am proud of my growing capacity for drawing the universal human experiences out of every kind of story. I want to be able to look back at a body of work that is as deep as it is wide.

My journey from dancer to choreographer to actor to director gives me a unique perspective when I approach a show. I have a heightened awareness of physical choices on stage and the importance of what can be communicated non-verbally. I find I always begin my journey with visuals – images that encapsulate the themes of the material and inform my approach. I am drawn, even in the most naturalistic of plays, to exploring how expressionistic touches can shift our perspectives. I love finding ways to elevate “realism” by finding appropriate imagery that ties the universal themes to the grounded world of the story, even in the most minute details, like how the scene transitions help the continuity of experience for the audience.

In fact, I believe my commitment to details is one of my most unique traits. I am a huge proponent of organization and preparation beforehand, so I can give myself the chance to know the world completely enough that I (and the team) can make spontaneous choices in the moment that fit the whole. I find a detail-oriented approach gives me the freedom to explore the big picture and develop my vision from a place of preparation. I know that through the journey of preparing, staging, and ultimately, watching a finished show, my point of view is going to be enriched.

As Tom Stoppard famously said, he writes plays to "nudge the world a little." I don’t believe anything is as effective at nudging the world as theatre. I know firsthand theatre’s ability to affect me, which makes me all the more excited to use it to affect others and contribute to something larger with my life. My eyes are going to be “made new.” And I can’t wait to take a few people with me.

I hope to create with you soon!
Rhonda Kohl