The Director and The Dramaturg: Lean Ensemble's The Waverly Gallery


Five minutes into a run-through rehearsal, Director Nick Newell slightly furrows his brow. Before he can say a word, Dramaturge Katie Rasor, sitting next to him, leans over and offers a suggestion. He nods and pops up from his chair to give the cast some adjustments. The scene now works.

Lean Ensemble theater’s Nick Newell and Katie Rasor have their own creative shorthand that flows between them—teamwork that is evident in the company’s latest production, The Waverly Gallery, a soulful story about a family coping with matriarch gallery owner Gladys Green’s growing senility.

“When we were working on the world premiere of a show in LA a few years ago the producers at that theatre called it [our connection] our "mind meld" because we did not really have to communicate verbally in rehearsals,” explains Newell. “We could divide and conquer and save a lot of time.  I think it freaked them out a little.”

What’s more, Newell and Rasor, are partners beyond the footlights. “I was smart enough to marry someone who is a lot smarter than I am,” Newell declares.  “Whenever I direct a show it is Katie's opinion I care the most about.  She is in no way shy about telling me when something does not work either.”

“He can’t escape me,” Rasor says with a laugh.  “But it’s his party and I do try to stay out of his hair.”

While Newell concentrates on the production’s acting and staging, Rasor provides information about playwright Kenneth Lonergan and background on the play’s focus--New York City in the 90s, Alzheimer’s, art galleries--or whatever else director Newell, the cast, and crew want to know. She also drops in on rehearsals at least once a week, viewing the runs through fresh eyes.

Newell jokes that “Katie's favorite movie is The Godfather so I think she would prefer the term consigliere (the job of Tom Hagan played by Robert Duvall in the movie) a right hand or counselor to describe what a dramaturg does.”  He adds, “I'll stop the metaphor there because I don't really want to know if I am a Sonny or a Michael.”

 Godfather “roles” or not, the dramatic duo of director and dramaturg plus lean ensemble’s cast and crew guarantee an evening of thought-provoking entertainment. 

Check out lean ensemble's dramaturg site.

The Waverly Gallery. Audience talkbacks with members of lean ensemble and Memory Matters following each show. January 28-30 at 7:30 PM. Sunday matinee January 31 at 2 PM. Hilton Head Preparatory School’s Main Street Theatre 3000 Main Street, Hilton Head Island. Tickets: $40 evening performances; $35 matinee; $15 students/active military.  843.715.6676.