After graduating with a BFA in Dance Performance and History from Ohio State University, I have been active in downtown theater since 1977. In the 80's and 90's, I appeared in dance and theatre productions at DTW, LaMaMa, PS 122, Joyce Soho, and The Public. I performed, choreographed and taught in London, Paris, Dusseldorf, Palermo, Rome, Belgrade, Koln, Frankfort and many other European cities. I toured with Ping Chong, Timothy Buckley and Jane Comfort and created works with Joseph Chaikin (The Open Theater), Paul Zimet (The Talking Band), Kinematic, Alice Farley, Yoshiko Chuma, Tamar Rogoff, Judson Poets Theater, DV8 Physical Theatre (London), and H.M. Koutoukas (DEAD AT SEA a one man show based on Mr. Koutoukas' journal entries). I choreographed and performed in the 2007 and 2009 revivals of Al Carmines’ CHRISTMAS RAPPINGS (Dir.Russ Treyz).
After 32 years of dancing and choreographing I have turned my energies towards directing and producing.
Since being asked to direct my first play, at Theater for the New City in early 2010, I have: directed and designed nine AEA Showcase Code productions (producing six of them with the help of Other Side Productions); directed two shows that have played multiple venues in NYC and toured to a combined nine regional theaters and festivals – including the Edmonton, Hollywood, Orlando, Santa Cruz, and Toronto (twice) Fringe Festivals. As a choreographer of full lengths works for venues like PS 122, LaMama Etc, Joyce Soho and Judson Poets Theater, I was used to creating work and seeing it through to performance. As for directing, I jumped right in and took control and made my own performance options.
As my body started to give out after dancing for 30 years, I spent the next 10 years working for the NYC Department of Education and several not-for-profit after-school programs. I was a Staff Developer, facilitating workshops on Communication Skills, Team Building and Time Management – for teachers, staff, parents and teens - this was just another kind of performing. For three years I was a Grants Manager – which sharpened my writing skills and ability to see the full picture at all times.
All of this uniquely prepared me to be where I am today – writing, directing and producing. I design the sets and lighting, as well as direct and produce the shows I have done to date. I have recently been lucky enough to be asked to adapt two different works – a short story TEN TALL TALES ABOUT THE MEN I LOVE (Ronn Smith) and the 1945 play LILLIAN SMITH’S STRANGE FRUIT (by Ms. Smith,, which played on Broadway 1945-46). The former is currently under consideration by four different theater companies across the country and the latter is being vetted by Samuel French for possible publication. As you can see I strive to constantly stay busy while managing different genres and deadlines.
My mission as a Director is to provide a safe space to create a performance that moves an audience. For me it always comes back to the words and illuminating the writer’s vision, by finding actors who know their craft and have a propensity to share and learn through the rehearsal and performance process. I like to work fast, as I feel it keeps everyone alive and present to constantly changing possibilities. It is always about trust. My process is to have several informal read throughs where we just discuss what is glean with each new visit. Then we start ‘mapping’ out the space and place of the work. I encourage the performer to do - to try - new things and approaches constantly. I have an overall vision of the piece that I allow the performer to work their way into, as opposed to merely proscribing directives. This process forges a trust and a sense of ownership by the performer that supersedes merely dictating my vision. I am always interested in the audience using their imaginations, to be active participants in the performance. My work, usually based in movement, has always dealt with the vastness of human conditions as told through the observance of small everyday gestures and their meanings. This movement vocabulary, which includes traditional miming, allows me to be both profane and profound at the same time, constantly creating a duality that acknowledges the yin and yang in daily life. It is about connecting a shared visual sense with all – actor and audience.
Learn more about Thom at www.thomfogartypresents.com.
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