By Audrey Rowland
Fade director Tatyana-Marie Carlo has had an exciting year — filled with a lot of directing and a lot of theater, and she wouldn’t have it any other way. She is about to graduate from the Brown/ Trinity Rep MFA program in Directing, so 2019 started off with a production for that program of Qui Nguyen’s She Kills Monsters. Before the semester even ended, she was deep in the process of directing Much Ado About Nothing/Tanta Bulla ¿Y Pa Que? for Teatro en El Verano, the collaboration between Trinity Rep and Rhode Island Latino Arts that brings free, bilingual theater around the state each summer. Once that show was on its feet, she was off to Williamstown Theater Festival in western Massachusetts where she was named the 2019 Matt Harris Directing Fellow. As soon as that wrapped up, she raced back to Providence for her final MFA project — a production of José Rivera’s References to Salvador Dalí Make Me Hot. Last month, she worked with Manton Avenue Project directing a special bilingual musical written by their young playwrights. Now, she’s at the helm of our current production of Fade. We’re excited for our audiences to get to know her better. You’ll see her work on stage, but you can learn more about her history here. Our Marketing intern Audrey Rowland recently sat down to get to know her.
Audrey Rowland: How did you get started in directing?
Tatyana-Marie Carlo: I was in undergrad, in a conservatory program for acting. Most of the students were female, and they were doing plays with predominantly male leads and there wasn’t really a focus on the women. We revolted, and the Dean asked us what we wanted to do. It was up to us to figure it out. They allowed us to put on our own production of Twelve Angry Women and it was my first time directing. After that, I spoke with my mentor, who encouraged me to direct, advised me, and helped me along the way.
AR: Before you discovered your love for directing, what were your plans for the future?
TMC: I wanted to be an actor! I thought for a long time that’s what I loved to do, before I discovered directing. Thom Jones, who taught at Brown/Trinity Rep, talks about leaning into the thing that’s pulling you. Directing was that thing.
AR: What’s something you wish people knew about directing?
TMC: How much prep goes into it! You don’t just walk in on the first day and direct a play. References to Salvador Dalí Make Me Hot opened this October, and I started working on it in March. Imagine if you’re someone who is doing plays all over the country! The process of the play starts six, maybe even seven, months before your first rehearsal.
AR: How would you describe yourself as a director?
TMC: I’m a very collaborative director. I love for every single person in the room to have a voice and agency over what they’re doing. I have a particular vision, and I’ll try to execute that vision, but I always try to leave space for the actors, designers, and other collaborators to also see themselves in the piece. It takes a village.
AR: You had some experience directing a show in this same space when you were the assistant director for The Song of Summer. What was that experience like?
TMC: The Song of Summer was so great! I was really included in the process. [Director] Taibi Magar, who just finished directing The Prince of Providence, always included me in her ideas or decisions. Whenever there was something I didn’t understand in her directing process, she would explain why she did it and how it helped her. There was one moment when she started listening to a certain scene facing away from the stage, which I thought was strange. She said that sometimes, you have to shift your perspective in order to hear the scene in a new way.
AR: The characters in Fade speak Spanish to each other during some moments in this show. You’ve also directed bilingual characters for the Teatro en El Verano production of The Tempest/La Tempestad and Much Ado About Nothing/Tanta Bulla ¿Y Pa Que? What is it like to direct a show that uses more than one language?
TMC: It’s so fun. One thing that I love about bilingual theater is that it has a larger reach. My grandmother, who is 91 years old, does not speak English, and I have cousins that don’t speak Spanish. All of us together as a family can watch a bilingual play and understand it if it’s executed correctly, with both language and physicality telling the story. It brings people together and it creates fewer barriers.