Monday, May 30, 2016

Spotlight On...Emily Hartford

Name: Emily Hartford

Hometown: Middleborough, MA

Education: BFA Theatre Arts Performance, Hofstra University

Favorite Credits: Directing: Mother of Exiles in Flux Theatre Ensemble’s Breathe Free event; Assistant Director on Flux’s Salvage and Jane the Plain. Acting: Disappearing Act by Edward Elefterion, Faust by August Schulenburg, As We Like It, devised and adapted by Messenger Theatre Company, The Tale of Frankenstein’s Daughter and The Night of Nosferatu by Stanton Wood.

Why theater?: I love that theatre depends on its observer, in order to exist. My favorite theatre is work that requires imaginative leaps from the audience, that becomes a collaboration between the creators and the audience. That kind of artistic creation—that can only happen once, in this space, with these people, at this time—is a special kind of magic.

Tell us about Rizing: Rizing is set years after a disease-spurred zombie apocalypse. In this rebuilt society, those in power have erected severe structures (and literal walls) to keep the Z-negative populace safe from the infected. Z-positive citizens take part in strict drug regimens to keep them “lucid.” Scientists battle against the disease’s growing adaptability to drugs, as infected “Zealots” seek to liberate their brethren from Neg oppression. The production has a mind-blowingly stellar cast, gorgeous design, bone crunching fights, and a bit of blood and gore.

What inspired you to direct Rizing?: I am incredibly lucky, in that Flux Theatre Ensemble found themselves in need of a director for Rizing, and gave me the shot to make it my directing premiere. What I love about this play is the way it grounds heady themes like disease, fear, power, and sacrifice in truthful and beautiful human relationships. With Rizing, Jason Tseng creates both a rich new world and incredibly relevant contemporary social commentary.

What kind of theater speaks to you? What or who inspires you as an artist?: I love work that is robustly physical and inventive, technically precise and emotionally rich. Some of the most wonderful theatre I’ve seen over the past few years: Geoff Sobelle’s The Object Lesson, Gideon Production’s Honeycomb Trilogy, Kneehigh’s Tristan & Yseult, Pig Iron Theatre Company’s Twelfth Night, National Theatre’s Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime, Rattlestick Playwright Theatre’s Ironbound, Blessed Unrest’s Body (I missed the latest iteration, but loved the version I saw in 2015).

If you could work with anyone you’ve yet to work with, who would it be?: Oooh, I would pick anyone from that list above: Geoff Sobelle or the other Pig Iron folks. Everyone at Gideon. Yeah, just everyone above: call me. I work really hard.

What show have you recommended to your friends?: I keep answering these a few questions too early. Tristan & Yseult (my fiancĂ© and I saw it one weekend at St. Ann’s Warehouse, and then grabbed six more tickets to see it about a week later when family was in town). The Object Lesson, which I was lucky enough to see four times in various stages of development and in two cities, and would watch again and again and again and again.

Who would play you in a movie about yourself and what would it be called?: Ohhhh man, I dunno. How about it’s set in the future, stars Helen Mirren and is called "Lady Who Made Lots of Art She Was Proud of and Now She Keeps Bees and Goats and Still Makes Weird Shit Out of Cardboard".

If you could go back in time and see any play or musical you missed, what would it be?: Peter Brook’s Midsummer Night’s Dream or The Mahabharata

What’s your biggest guilty pleasure?: TV. All the TV.

If you weren’t working in theater, you would be _____?: If I could go back and make a second life, I think I’d be a sculptor.

What’s up next?: I’m very excited to collaborate with my fiancĂ©, Ned Massey—we’ll be co-directing a production of his original musical, The Battles, this coming winter. (We’re also due to work on some wedding planning collaboration!) More immediately, this month I’ll jump into Messenger Theatre Company’s research and development process for Emily Davis’s surreal and wonderful new play, The Door Was Open, as an actor and a designer.

For more on Emily, visit For more on Flux Theatre Ensemble, visit