TOMMY BUTLER is a Philadelphia-based director and play-maker, an Associate Artist with Team Sunshine Performance Corporation, and the Artistic Director/Co-Founder of #theaternow. Recent directing credits include HYPOTHETICALS: a bite-size sound spectacle (Team Sunshine), Everything’s Thing! (Passage Theater Company/#theaternow), Two Losers Present: The Exit Strategy (#theaternow), Homegrown and Growing (McCarter Theatre, Education), AMERICA: The Gayest Story Ever Told (Actor’s Express), AN ILIAD (which #theaternow toured to the Kirkgate Theatre in England), and HENRY IV: Your Prince and Mine (as Associate Director/Script Master – Team Sunshine/Shakespeare in Clark Park, 2014 Falstaff Awards Nomination for Best Script Adaptation). Tommy is a 2014 Production Ensemble Guest Lecturer at Swarthmore College (Philadelphia, PA), 2011 Directing Fellow at The Kennedy Center (Washington, DC), 2011 Project Intern with The Civilians (New York City, NY) and a 2010 Resident Directing Intern at Actor’s Express (Atlanta, GA). Tommy holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Theatre Performance from Westminster College of Fine & Performing Arts (Rider University).
1) What excites you most about participating in Directors JAM?
Both by necessity, and by choice, most of my work typically takes a couple of years to make before an audience will ever see it. I’m excited that Directors JAM, however, will force me to make a piece in a day, which means I’ll only have a handful of hours, and hours are currency in this line of work, to discover the engine of a piece and put something together that isn’t totally unwatchable.
2) How do you personally understand the director’s role in a devising process?
To be honest, I feel like every time I walk into a new rehearsal room, I’m a little bit making it up as I go, so I’m not sure how qualified I am to answer this question. But, because you’re asking, for me, devising means creating an original work of art by any means necessary. And, as I understand it, the director’s role in that creation process is to determine what those means are; to articulate the needs of the room, to be incredibly patient as the room goes to work, and to relentlessly search for the heart of the piece.
3) What do you hope to get out of your JAM experience?
I sometimes struggle to feel connected to my art, to this city and to the awesome people creating theater here, so maybe the thing I’m looking for the most, in this opportunity with Directors Gathering, and in every piece I make, every show I see, every drink I grab with friends and colleagues, is for a stronger, much more meaningful, sense of community and purpose.