The Skirball Tapes conversation with Anne Bogart, a globally esteemed director of plays and operas, will be on Wednesday, May 10, at 11 a.m.  

Significantly, given our authoritarian and post-Roe times,  she recently (2019) directed an opera based on The Handmaid’s Tale.

On the next evening, Thursday, May 11,  I will walk to the LaMaMa Experimental Theatre Club on East 4th Street in New York, mask in pocket, to see Anne’s latest directorial adventure, That Beautiful Lady, a musical by Elizabeth Swados (1951-2016) and Paul Schmidt (1934-1999).  

The Skirball Tapes talk with Bogart will begin by asking her two linked questions, “What should I expect from That Beautiful Lady on Thursday?” and “How can I be a good audience member?” Few theater artists have been as adventurous and experimental as Bogart.  However, she has also  thought as rigorously as any about the arts, artists, and us, the audience.  

Adventure and rigor:  that combination is one of the reasons why Bogart’s voice has been so powerful and why I am delighted she will be with us

Bogart was born in 1951, the same year as Elizabeth Swados.  Her father was a naval officer; her maternal grandfather a famous WWII admiral. Cutting her own path, in 1974 Bogart became a part of the now legendary  downtown artistic scene in NYC.  Think living with others in an unheated loft in Soho, now the site of expensive lofts and shops that have actual a.c. and heating systems. She became a director, organizing two productions that became either cults or infamous assaults on convention, the label depending on the observer. 

Conversations with Bogart matter—not only  because of her range and influence as a director and not only because of her co-founding of the SITI theater  company. SITI=Saratoga International Theater Institute. Do not confuse it with Siri.  The company’s website is now creating and making accessible a fascinating digital archive of its productions. 

Here are two of the several reasons why conversations with Bogart (and her writings)  matter. 

1. She offers relevant capsule autobiographies—about the feelings, failures, hopes, insights, dreams of a major figure.  Person and context react with each other.

2. She is a wide-ranging but incisive student of this historical moment and argues for the arts. especially theater, as necessary for human flourishing now.

Do join us.

P.S. Bogart and I share a love for gossip, but, alas, this episode of the Skirball Tapes may be too richly exploratory of her ideas to indulge that predilection. 

Anne Bogart is one of the three Co-Artistic Directors of the SITI Company, which she founded with Japanese director Tadashi Suzuki in 1992. She is a Professor at Columbia University where she runs the Graduate Directing Program. Works with SITI include FALLING & LOVING, The Bacchae, Chess Match No. 5; Lost in the Stars; Persians; Steel Hammer; A Rite; Café Variations; Trojan Women (After Euripides); American Document; Antigone; Under Construction; Freshwater; Who Do You Think You Are; Radio Macbeth; Hotel Cassiopeia; Death and the Ploughman; La Dispute; Score; bobrauschenbergamerica; Room; War of the Worlds–the Radio Play; Cabin Pressure; Alice’s Adventures; Culture of Desire; Bob; Going, Going, Gone; Small Lives/Big Dreams; The Medium; Noel Coward’s Hay Fever and Private Lives; August Strindberg’s Miss Julie; and Charles Mee’s Orestes. Recent operas include The Handmaid’s Tale, Handel’s Alcina, Dvorak’s Dimitrij, Verdi’s Macbeth, Bellini’s Norma and Bizet’s Carmen. She is the author of six books: The Art of Resonance, A Director Prepares; The Viewpoints Book; And Then, You Act; Conversations with Anne; and What’s the Story.

Catharine Stimpson is a University Professor at New York University and Dean Emeritus of the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences. She was the founding editor of Signs: Journal of Women in Culture and Society. Her many other publications include a novel, Class Notes; a reprinted selection of essays, Where the Meanings Are: Feminism and Cultural Spaces; and extensive work on Gertrude Stein. In addition, more than 150 of her monographs, essays, stories, and reviews have appeared in Transatlantic Review, The Nation, The New York Times Book Review, Critical Inquiry, boundary 2, and other publications. Her extensive public service includes serving as the Chair of the National Advisory Committee of the Woodrow Wilson National Fellowship Foundation and past president of the Association of Graduate Schools. She is former chair of the New York State Humanities Council, the Ms. Magazine Board of Scholars, and the National Council for Research on Women, as well as past president of the Modern Language Association. She serves on the boards of other educational and cultural organizations, and is on the board of Scholars at Risk and New York Live Arts. She has been awarded both Fulbright and Rockefeller Humanities Fellowships, as well as grants from the Ford Foundation and the National Endowment for the Humanities.


NYU Skirball’s presenting programs are made possible with support from the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of the Office of the Governor and the New York State Legislature; and by Howard Gilman Foundation; FACE Contemporary Theater and FUSED (French U.S. Exchange in Dance), programs of FACE Foundation in partnership with Villa Albertine with support from the Florence Gould Foundation, The Ford Foundation, Institut français (Paris), the French Ministry of Culture, and private donors; General Delegation of the Government of Flanders to the USA; Collins Building Services; Marta Heflin Foundation; Mertz Gilmore Foundation; as well as our valued donors through memberships, commissioning, and Stage Pass Fund support.