The best part of her job? “Finding amazing work that artistically elevates how we think about art and life, and collaborating with the wonderful and thoughtful and brilliant people who create it.”

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LITERARY DIRECTOR
Kristin Leahey
 
What do you do? I’m the literary director at Seattle Repertory Theatre, where I oversee the literary management, dramaturgy, public programs, season planning, writers group, and The Other Season (our new play development program), among other responsibilities.

How did you get started in that field?  I became formally interested in dramaturgy and the literary side of theater when I was in graduate school at Northwestern University. One of my professors asked me to dramaturg a musical he was directing, and my response was, “What’s dramaturgy?” There’s really no simple way to define dramaturgy, as the support and collaboration needed varies per project. A snapshot of the position is the selection, study, analysis, support and contextualization of texts and productions.

Throughout grad school and professionally, I continued dramaturging new plays, classics, dance pieces, theater for young audiences, etc., around the country. I use this skill set or dramaturgical toolbox in the classroom (as a professor), arts administrator, producer, in my writing and as the literary director at SRT.                  

What’s a typical day like? My days really vary, so I could go from reading a play to requesting material from the field to speaking to artists and agents about what projects are exciting to them to writing material to promote the shows of our season to attending rehearsal to planning an audience engagement event to writing a grant application to producing readings and workshops of new work for The Other Season. I appreciate the variety, although it can get frenetic!   

What’s the best part of the job? Finding amazing work that artistically elevates how we think about art and life, and collaborating with the wonderful and thoughtful and brilliant people who create it. For me, working with people surpasses working on plays, so getting to know what inspires them, how they move through the world and what impact they want their work to have really excites me.      

What surprises people about what your work? I think that it exists and how it’s constantly changing depending on the needs of the circumstance. 

What’s the coolest thing you recently did?  SRT will produce Lorraine Hansberry’s “A Raisin in the Sun” from Sept. 30 to Oct. 30. In preparation to inform our production, I spent extensive time in the Hansberry archive at the New York Public Library’s Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, where I poured through drafts of her different plays, poems, personal letters and essays in support of the civil rights movement. It was a transformative experience, and I look forward to sharing this information and some of this material with audiences through our public programs and lobbyturgy (dramaturgy in the lobby).   

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