My Career Choice: Lucie Tiberghien – Director
Lucie Tiberghien is a director and translator, born in Switzerland and raised in France. An Associate Artist with Monk Parrots, she is currently directing the company’s New York premiere of Gabriel Jason Dean’s critically acclaimed play Terminus, which stars Obie and Drama Desk Award winner Deirdre O’Connell. Terminus runs through March 10 in a limited engagement at Next Door at NYTW, 83 East 4th Street.
Terminus tells the story of Eller, a white matron, and her mixed-race grandson, Jaybo, who live together down by the railroad tracks in rural Georgia. When Eller’s mind begins to fade, her violent past in the segregated South haunts her from the very walls of the old family home. And as she descends terrifyingly closer toward a horrifying truth, Jaybo’s capacity to love his grandmother is put to the test.
In a lyrical style that blends psychological realism with expressionism, Terminus is a family drama that allegorically asks how are white Americans haunted by and continually complicit in the sustained trauma against black Americans. Terminus is the second chapter in Dean’s The Attapulgus Elegies, a semi-autobiographical collection of plays about the slow fade of an American mill town. For more information, go to the website for Terminus.
Tiberghien’s long list of Off Broadway credits include: The Other Thing by Emily Schwend (Second Stage), Soldier X by Rehana Mirza (Ma-Yi Theater Company), Don’t Go Gentle by Stephen Belber (MCC), Blind and The Pavilion by Craig Wright (Rattlestick), Hoodoo Love by Katori Hall (Cherry Lane) and A Small Melodramatic Story and Geometry of Fire by Stephen Belber (LAByrinth, Rattlestick).
For more information, visit her website.
Can you point to one event that triggered your interest in your career?
Working as a young dancer on a production of Le Voyage Dans La lune, at Le Grand Theatre de Geneve, directed by Jerome Savary. That’s when I first understood what a director does.
What about this career choice did you find most appealing?
Being able to combine my passion for dance, music, literature, activism in one art form.
What steps did you take to begin your education or training?
I started out as a dancer, then worked briefly as a chrographer while going back to school and studying history and political science; then I came to New York to study dramaturgy and directing. I assisted many inspiring directors, began collabroating with young writers, created my own company, Charniere, then started my freelance career.
Along the way, were people encouraging or discouraging?
Both. But I am thankful for all the people around me who, at young age, encouraged me to pursue a career in the performing arts.
Did you ever doubt your decision and attempt a career change?
I doubt my decision every day. It’s a career that brings me great joy and utter despair on an almost daily basis. But there is nothing else I would rather do.
When did your career reach a tipping point?
When I moved to New York in 1995. All the pieces fell into place. I knew I had found the city where I would grow into the artist I am today.
Can you describe a challenge you had to overcome?
Theater in the U.S. is a writer-driven business. In other words, most of the time a theater will chose to produce a play and then find a director. While I greatly appreciate how much new plays are valued in this country, I find it challenging to rarely be in a position where I, as a director, can say, “Let’s do this play, in this particular way, with these actors and these designers….”
Maybe the time will come.
What single skill has proven to be most useful?
The discipline I learned when I was training to become a ballet dancer.
What accomplishment are you most proud of?
I am proud of my unusual trajectory. And proud that I also raised two kids.
Any advice for others entering your profession?
Follow your instincts, know that life is long; there will be many ups and downs. Be ambitious and demanding, and loud. Find time to remember who you are and why you are doing this; it’s easy to get caught up in the nonsense.