Jess K Smith

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Jess K Smith | Founder and Co-Artistic Director

Jess K Smith (she/her) is the Founder and Co-Artistic Director of ARTBARN, a freelance director, and an Associate Professor of Theatre Arts at the University of Puget Sound. She focuses on generative work, adaptations, interdisciplinary collaborations, and imaginative interpretations of classic texts. Favorite directing credits include A Streetcar Named Desire by Tennessee Williams, Machinal by Sophie Treadwell, We Remain Prepared, The Circle, This is a Ghost House and Home Stretch by Melissa D. Brown (ARTBARN), Iphigenia 2.0 by Charles Mee, The Visit by Friedrich Durrenmatt, Lungs by Duncan MacMillan, The Spectacular Demise of Platonov (an original adaptation of Chekhov’s first play), 800 Words: The Transmigration of Philip K Dick by Victoria Stewart, The Hardly Wonder by Jason Platt, and Harlowe and I Am The Girl With The Spun Gold Hair by Jennifer Lane.

Jess has developed a number of original ensemble-generated pieces including deCOMPOSITION which premiered in New York before touring to Seattle, EDIT (based on Kafka’s writings), Oz: Re-imagined, Biff’s Dream, Requiem, Lady Liberty Blues with Wes K. Andrews, Amplified, and The Nomadic Dream Project presented at the Prague Quadrennial. Perhaps the largest generative piece to date has been The Pandora’s Box Project (a new work created to diversify and deepen the conversation on reproductive justice) which was created in collaboration with a team of over 60 artists and selected for the 2015 Women Playwrights International Conference in Cape Town, South Africa. Her interdisciplinary performance work includes collaborations with composers, sculptors, dancers, and audience. Her work has been presented at Playwrights Horizons, Seattle Repertory Theatre, On the Boards, 12th Ave Arts, Byrdcliffe Arts Colony, 3LD, The Riverside Theatre, Dixon Place, Miller Theatre, throughout the Georgetown Steam Plant, on the streets of Prague, and beyond.

She has served on the board of Northwest Playwrights Alliance, as a member of Strawberry Theatre Workshop’s Think Tank, on the Advisory Committee for Macha Monkey Productions, and was the co-founder of LAB (an interdisciplinary training program for Seattle artists). She has trained with the SITI Company, interned with Punchdrunk (Sleep No More) and the Italian dance-theatre company Deja Donne, and completed the internship program with Seattle Repertory Theatre. Her essay, “The Hero in the Human” was published in the book Deja Donne: Dance in Action (Editoria & Spettacolo), and her essay “Women Directors: Language Worth Repeating” was featured on Howlround. Her talk, “The Seeing Place”, was featured as part of TEDx McMinnville. She is an alumna of the University of Puget Sound where she earned a double major in Theatre (Honors) and Psychology. She received her MFA in Directing at Columbia University under the guidance of Anne Bogart and Brian Kulick.