Melanie Joseph

Doris Duke Artist Award, 2014

New York, NY

Melanie Joseph is the founder and artistic leader of The Foundry Theatre. Championing an artist-led development process, Joseph takes on multiple creative roles across projects including co-creator, director, dramaturg and/or producer. Joseph is known for making theatre in unusual forms such as a bus tour of the south Bronx, THE PROVENANCE OF BEAUTY (2009) with poet Claudia Rankine; a play built of questions, HOW MUCH IS ENOUGH (2013) with playwright Kirk Lynn; or the upcoming 2014-15 music-theatre piece to be performed in peoples’ homes with singer/songwriter Gideon Irving. Her productions have collectively garnered 12 OBIEs, seven Drama Desk nominations, and multiple MAP Fund grants. For twenty years, she has also led The Foundry’s Dialogues Series and community engagement programs which gather artists together to explore how their work is situated within social and political contexts. For its hybrid focus, Joseph’s work has twice been honored with The Ross Wetzsteon OBIE Award for “creating cutting edge theatre and engaging artists in the thorniest issues of the world we inhabit."

  • The Good Person of Szechwan (2013)
  • Melanie Joseph- FUREE in Pins & Needles (2011) :
    FUREE in Pins & Needles (2011)
  • OPEN HOUSE (2009)
  • Melanie Joseph- THE PROVENANCE OF BEAUTY (2009) :
  • ROARING GIRLE (2005)
  • Melanie Joseph- Foundry Dialogues: A CONVERSATION ON HOPE (1998) :
    Foundry Dialogues: A CONVERSATION ON HOPE (1998)
  • DEVIANT CRAFT (1995)

What fuels your impulse to make creative work?

The body of my work in the theatre, I hope, accumulates a kind of ongoing performance of inquiry that operates as an Invitation—to as many people as possible—to consider what we mean to be as citizens of the world that we ourselves create—together. Within my own inquiry as a theatre-maker, I continue to wonder where the ‘stage’ begins and ends, about the myriad creative forms that constellate it, and the intimacy that may be held there. I’m inspired to keep making by other makers, by their facility to live inside the ambiguity of creation, by the rigor of imagining something is there until it is, who proceed—together—anyway. I’m excited by some of the alternative structures people are building across the world that propose entirely new modes of social relations between people. And I’m perplexed by the fact that in most cases artists are not essential to this making. Plato’s proposal to exile dramatic poets from the ‘ideal state’ still purrs away inside us. I want to build marvelous Invitations with people that open new considerations for ways that art and the artists who make it might claim a newly oriented relevancy in making the world.