Meet our new Director of Performance!
What are you most looking forward to in your new role as Director of Performance?
I am really looking forward to deepening my relationships with students, staff and faculty and building a more robust TAPS program in collaboration with everyone involved. There are so many opportunities for us to make more art and teach in innovative ways above and beyond the quarter structure, and I look forward to building community through that work.
You have taught in several distinguished theatre and performance departments. What do you find distinctive about TAPS and/or TAPS students?
TAPS students are big, bold thinkers. They are contemplating and dissecting large questions around form and content in the arts. I often say that a TAPS student is engaging their curiosity to shape a strong point of view. What an incredible muscle to build. They often have multiple courses of study and/or interests, and this leads them to bring a point of view to the arts that is a unique blend of their life-experience, identity, studies, interests and skills.
Your training is wonderfully far-flung, from Kenyon College to London to Moscow to Indonesia. What courses or experiences do you continue to draw on in your work as a theatre maker?
I'm so glad you asked this question. I hold within me a deep respect and adoration for all that is at the heart of Chicago's artistic community; at the same time, I find endless inspiration and collaborative vocabularies from international experiences and learning environments. In particular, my time in London and Bali showed me the importance of the audience's experience -- a reminder not to take that for granted as an artist but to nurture it. As a director, I realized that my goal is greater than the story itself; I strive to create a meaningful communal experience.
Can you describe what you think makes for a great production experience? Do you have any goals or golden rules that you bring to every rehearsal process?
I have two goals that I take into any and all production processes. The first is to ask "what is the progressive experience of the audience?" This allows me to center the journey of how an audience will experience the art and remind myself that their relationship to the art needs to be active and changing. Second, I craft around a moment of joy in every project I take on. It could be the briefest moment, but if I understand joy in the world of the piece, then I can celebrate it in the process.
The pandemic has had a significant impact on the performing arts. What do you find most exciting about this moment of revitalization?
The reconsideration of professional theatre institutional models is long overdue. I am thrilled that we are finally re-examining our institutional structures and prioritizing how we center artists, community and access.
What led you to propose your collaborative course in New Play Development with Calamity West? What should students expect from this class?
Last year, I taught the BA colloquium for TAPS majors and minors, and there was lots of student excitement about creating original work. However, it was clear that students did not yet have the tools to revise their work or workshop their work with actors and directors. I am so excited to co-teach a course where we can explore this part of the theatrical process.
Do you have a hidden talent?
I don't know that it's a talent, but I love soccer, and I'm coaching my son's team this year for the first time.
Devon de Mayo is a Chicago-based theatre director and devisor. Her Chicago professional credits include: If I Forget (Victory Gardens Theatre), First Love is the Revolution (Steep Theatre); The Tasters, Laura and the Sea &The Scientific Method (Rivendell Theatre); Women Laughing Alone With Salad (Theatre Wit); The Burn (Steppenwolf Theatre); Harvey (Court Theatre); Sycamore (Raven Theatre); You on the Moors Now (The Hypocrites); Animals Out of Paper (Shattered Globe Theatre); You Can’t Take it With You, and Lost in Yonkers (Northlight Theatre); Everything is Illuminated and Compulsion (Next); Roadkill Confidential, The Whole World is Watching, As Told by the Vivian Girls and The Twins Would Like to Say (Dog & Pony). Outside of Chicago, Devon served as Resident Director on The Audience by Peter Morgan (Schoenfeld Theatre, Broadway, under the direction of Stephen Daldry). She co-wrote and co-directed Guerra: A Clown Play, a collaboration with Mexico City based artists La Piara (performances in New York, Chicago, Albuquerque, Mexico City and Bogota). Devon is an ensemble member at Rivendell Theatre and co-founded Dog & Pony Theatre. She received her MFA in Theatre Directing from Middlesex University in London and a BA in Drama and Political Science from Kenyon College. She did further studies at the Russian Academy of Theatre Arts (GITIS) in Moscow and the Indonesian Institute for the Arts in Bali.