5 With: Claire Avitabile

February 13, 2014

Tonight is the preview performance of 20% Theatre's THE NAKED I: INSIDES OUT, a series of plays that explore queer and trans experience through monologues, scenes, and spoken word. 20%, founded by Claire Avitabile, is dedicated to telling these stories, and to supporting and promoting the work of female and transgender theatre artists. I'm so grateful that Claire is here in the Twin Cities, making this brave work, and advocating for these vital members of our arts community. THE NAKED I runs until February 23 at Intermedia Arts, and tickets are starting to sell out! 

What do you do or make?
I produce and direct new work, often with LGBTQ themes and/or focusing on stories from women and transgender individuals. I like to help tell the untold stories, stories that punch people in the gut and open their eyes really wide. Most of my directing is with 20% Theatre Company, which I founded in 2006.

What's the biggest challenge in your work?
Being a director is one of the loneliest jobs in the performing arts-- there's only one of them, unless there happens to be an assistant. It's hard not having another director to talk to; there's no immediate or readily available connection or collaboration waiting for me after rehearsal.

What's your advice for finding satisfaction & success as a creative person?
Learn as much as you can about in your field. I owe much of my success in my dream field to studying everything from set design to stage management, and to a publicity internship I had as a senior in college. With that gig I learned about graphic design, the proper format for press releases, how to sell performing arts, how to manage and run a box office, etc... That experience helped me land theatre administration jobs right out of college, which allowed me to earn money while still pursuing directing.

How do you make it all financially work?
For the past seven years, I've had two full-time theatre jobs. I am exhausted, sure, but I'm working hard so that within a year or two I will be working for 20% full-time, and can drop the other job. Growing up, we didn't have a lot of money, so I learned financial independence at a young age; I am good at budgeting and saving. 

What's one of your dream projects?
My dream project currently has no script, but exists in my head as a devised work using some stories I've written, mixed with movement, music, and contributions from the cast. It will touch on themes of queerness and identity, father/daughter relationships, and substance abuse. Sounds heavy, but I promise there will be a lot of lightness as well. Finding the lightness is always my favorite challenge as an artist, and often the most rewarding.

[You can read more interviews here.]

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