Hi! I'm Anna, and this is my website...
...where I've attempted to translate my entire essence into an aesthetically-pleasing, easily-digestible digital space. Welcome, and thank you for being here!
Let’s get the boring stuff out of the way first: I was born in California's capital, and then moved to Chicago for college (a BA in Creative Writing and Theater from Northwestern University). I continued the journey away from home when I went to grad school in Providence, RI (MFA from Brown University/Trinity Repertory Company’s Programs in Acting and Directing), and now I've finally found my way back to California, this time the Southern part, where I live in maximally-decorated thrifted boho bliss(ish) with my partner and my three cats. For more traditional bio information, you can read my writing bio here, my directing resume here, and my acting resume here.
I spent most of my relatively young life pursuing a career in acting, but have now shifted my focus to directing – a passion I’ve always had, but which I didn’t fully embrace until 2017 when I directed a production of Daddy Long Legs: The Musical in Studio City, and realized that not only was I most fully myself when behind the table, I also had a lot more to offer the theater – and the world. Every theater artist is by nature some sort of storyteller, and I'm no different. My passion for storytelling is expansive. It’s global, it’s mythological, it’s macro and microcosmic all at once. I want to revolutionize the ways in which we tell the stories we’ve all fallen in love with.
By now, I’ve directed many more plays (including A Sad Tale’s Best for Winter, my self-written feminist adaptation of Shakespeare’s The Winter’s Tale, workshopped with Noise Now at A Noise Within Theatre), several storytelling and cabaret events, avant-garde film projects, and immersive performance-art experiences (including the interactive Instagram Art Installation Piece, #NeverAlone, featured in the AV Club, and it's companion film piece, "Cassandra Q+A" – learn more about these project here!). I’ve founded an LA-based feminist artist collective/theater company called Beating of Wings. – a step toward my most deeply-held dream of reshaping the industry to be a more equitable, accessible, and respectful space for all artists and people.
I’m honored to be able to collaborate with so many incredible artists all along my journey to hone my artistic skills and values and morph them into a strong and unique directorial voice- values which include: extreme rigor and precision with all storytelling decisions; an attention to detail balanced with a commitment to creating a cohesive vision; reimagining and challenging the ways we traditionally use text, setting, architecture, and movement; and most importantly, celebrating the voices that have been singing out since the beginning of time, but which have not yet been adequately celebrated. To this end, I run my rehearsal rooms with a spirit of respect, openness, and collaboration. Above all, I always remain committed to telling stories that are vital to the world- stories that have the capacity to inspire and create meaningful change. Storytelling is a high calling. It is a historical calling. I feel a great responsibility to perform this calling in the best and most thoughtful way possible.
From the Inside, Out
Lucia Joyce, Collaborator, Beating of Wings Company Member, and Cast Member of A Sad Tale's Best for Winter shares her experiences
The women-driven, LA-based theatre company, Beating of Wings Collective, found its way into my heart so quickly and unconventionally that I was still in quiet awe of the whole experience long after the applause ended and the chairs were put away.
I'm smiling at the remarkable timing and joyful buzz of this opportunity, even now.
In the land of Hollywood gatekeepers, depressingly specific casting breakdowns, and packed audition calls, I booked a role in a full-length, feminist reimagining of Shakespeare's The Winter's Tale retitled: A Sad Tale's Best For Winter, and sporting original choreography and music.
Director/Playwright Anna Miles, a kind, driven, and sharp-witted creative, offered me the job through a friend's name-drop and a perusal of my website (Thanks Wix!). We met over breakfast in the NoHo Arts District, discussing typical theatre preconceptions and the ambitious dreams she had for Beating of Wings and the Sad Tale project. My first art language being dance, and Anna's being theatre/song, we connected over mutual admiration for both art forms (and a really good scone). I felt a silent, shared trust of each other's passion and dedication. Anna was featuring choreography and hiring a more dance-minded actor for the first time. I was jumping from commercial dance gigs and classically misogynist musicals straight into her indie, experimental theatre with Shakespearean text and A-cappella soundscapes. A scone was eaten, a bond was forged, and the excitement was palpable.
Over the course of three weeks, our team of versatile artists fused harmonic melodies, challenging monologues, extensive prop work, and visceral movement in one 2.5 hour performance on a Sunday in November.
We were billed as a staged reading, but as the play went on, lighting, sound, costumes, and clever original dialogue transformed our office-like studio space into something other worldly. Script pages were torn and littered across the staging area, to be replaced by flowers in the second act. The corseted, oppressed women of the court became barefoot songstresses in a warmer, freer place. The story didn't just reveal the consequences of toxic masculinity and female oppression...
...it also uncovered the flaws of an all-out dismissal of men and what they've built. There were moments of intense grief and childlike awe. There were genuine laughs and friendly jabs at the current social norms, as well as the upturned expectations of a Shakespearean theatre experience. The costumes were hand sewn; each prop movement a mulled-over decision that reflected back on the story (we were traveling between worlds, after all). A bucket of mud served as a sticky reminder of where we all came from, and where we all eventually return.My general impression? It was awesome. The people and project were a much-needed departure from the usual commercial dance rooms (or my guilty avoidance of them). I was diving in with my fresh acting/song training and all the discipline I carry with me from a dozen years in production shows of all types. It felt wildly refreshing to be part of something so off the beaten track (No high kicks? No winks to the 4th wall? Wha?!) And...it just plain felt good to bring in a diverse set of skills and to take in the talent of my lovely peers. I want to thank Anna and the entire cast and crew of Sad Tale for taking a chance on me, for using me as dance captain, and for inviting me into the Beating of Wings Collective.
From the Outside, In
Review: A Sad Tale's Best for Winter
by Miranda Johnson-Haddad
As a Shakespeare academic who focuses on Performance Studies, and therefore also a veteran of many productions of Shakespeare’s The Winter’s Tale, I was excited about seeing the workshop performance by Beating of Wings of their play A Sad Tale’s Best for Winter. Although I had been intrigued by what I’d learned about the play, the workshop performance completely surpassed my expectations. I was very impressed by the staging of the first half of the play, which is more directly Shakespearean than the second half, for its thought-provoking innovations, which reflect the company’s confidence in performing Shakespeare, and which shed new light on this enigmatic late Romance. But the second half took me utterly by surprise with its creative reimagining of an alternative yet thoroughly integrated storyline for Shakespeare’s female characters as they appear in the second half of the original play. This alternate version resolves much of the lingering uneasiness that twenty-first century audiences may understandably experience when watching Shakespeare’s play; and it is a measure of the sensitivity and intelligent awareness of Sad Tale’s author and of the company’s cast and creatives that the modern reframing feels like a natural extension of Shakespeare’s Romance – an homage and an exploration, rather than a criticism. I was especially delighted in the second half of Sad Tale by the judicious inclusion of many lines from Shakespeare’s other plays, an inclusion that is indicative of the author’s and the company’s well-informed understanding of Shakespeare; and while a recognition of these passages will certainly enhance the pleasure felt by Shakespeare fans in any audience, that level of familiarity with Shakespeare is by no means required to enjoy Sad Tale or to appreciate its deeper message. Sad Tale is the rare Shakespearean-inspired play that is certain to appeal to both the specialist and the non-specialist alike, for it takes the inherent theatricality of Shakespeare’s play – a theatricality that can be both gratifying and challenging to realize fully onstage – and fearlessly embraces and then boldly runs with that very theatricality. A Sad Tale’s Best for Winter deserves a wider audience. I look forward to seeing where Beating of Wings is able to take their thoughtful and thought-provoking play in its future development.