Our newest TBA featured member is Ana-Catrina Buchser, a Romanian-born director, singer, musician and mother who found her way to the Bay Area and brought her home country’s passion for the arts along with her. With a body of work that includes a translated adaptation of The Star Without a Name (Dragon 2nd Stages Series), Broadway musical Spring Awakening (San Jose Rep) and Victorian farce The Importance of Being Earnest (Santa Clara Players), Buchser has demonstrated serious directorial range. Learn more about this dynamic ATLAS graduate and CA$H Grant recipient!
|TBA featured member Ana-Catrina Buchser.
How did you get your start as a theatre artist?
I grew up in București, Romania, going to the theatre a lot in a society where artists are revered. Although I thought I wanted to be a doctor, the artistic force that came from my mother-writer and father-painter was strong in me, so it didn’t really surprise anyone when my Stanford pre-med path turned into a master’s in directing. I have continued to direct and act in the Bay Area ever since, having a special place in my heart for plays about the theatre, such as Stephen Jeffreys’ The Libertine, which is on my bucket list. You can learn more about my work at ana-catrina.com and read my blog at modicumsofinspiration.com.
What’s one of your favorite shows that you’ve worked on?
Two months ago—although it feels like yesterday—I closed The Star Without a Name, a play I translated and adapted from Romanian, written by Mihail Sebastian. In addition to directing it, I also produced it, with the generous support of Dragon Production’s 2nd Stages Series, as well as a CA$H grant from Theatre Bay Area. This was by far the most emotional journey I have ever taken while working on a play, partially because I was responsible for so many aspects of the production, but also because it was an offering to Bay Area audiences of the culture, humor and poetic sensibility of my birth country.
What do you like about the theatre scene here in the Bay?
I appreciate the spirit of camaraderie. With very few odd-ball exceptions, individual theatre artists and companies in the Bay Area are very supportive of each other’s work and are willing to lend a helping hand when needed. I suppose there is a feeling of togetherness of all the talent in this region in the face of the dismal financial situation.
As a director, what would you say to artists trying to get their start in that role?
Read a lot, live a lot, meet a lot of people, see a lot of theatre, do a lot of theatre, get involved in every aspect of a play (act, build, paint, light, play with sound, etc.). Every experience you go through makes you a better director. Also, work on becoming an excellent communicator; you will have to explain your vision to many different people before any of your ideas can become a play.
How was the ATLAS experience for you? What did you take away from it?
I had a revelation during my ATLAS session. Before ATLAS I had been struggling for about seven years to balance my life as a theatre director—which came first—with my newer life as a mother. Dale Albright, who ran the session, had the brilliant idea of sorting the participants into several different categories, one of which was “parents.” After much conversation with actor Laura Espino—the only other parent in the room—I realized that I had been thinking of directing and parenting as two separate identities of mine, and had been frustrated whenever one demanded more attention than the other. The big realization was that my daughters are growing up very quickly, and I will still be a director when they go off to build their own lives. I am now happily both a director and a mother at the same time, I take fewer theatrical projects each year and spend more time with my daughters, and the balance just happens naturally.
Any upcoming projects you’d like to share with your fellow TBA members?
I am in the process of looking for a publisher for The Star Without a Name. Mihail Sebastian has been translated in several languages, but not English, so I am working with a Romanian foundation to look for a US publisher. I am, of course, always thinking about the next play on my bucket list, and have a few good ideas.
There is also an exciting year of music ahead. I sing with Symphony Silicon Valley Chorale, and in August we start our new season, which will feature works by Sibelius, Gabriel Fauré and others.
If you could direct your ultimate dream show, what would it be like?
The next ultimate dream show involves lots of color; working with an excellent composer and several actors who play instruments; at least one violent, bloody scene and a kick-ass production manager. Also, reasonable wages for the entire cast, designers, crew and director.
The one after that might have elephants in tutus...
Theatre Bay Area members: Creative. Committed. Community.