Five Questions For: Rachel Chavkin


Name: Rachel Chavkin

Occupation: Artistic Director/Freelance Director/Theatre Educator

Affiliation: the TEAM (the Theatre of the Emerging American Moment)


1. Where did you grow up and how did you end up where you are now?

Washington DC. I was always taken to plays by my folks, especially my dad. Dinner theatre. Broadway. Off-Broadway. Broadway national tours. Dinner theater. But I didn’t start doing theater til I went to Stagedoor Manor (dark musical secrets of my past!) and that was it. I was still thinking about other stuff until college time, then I remember crying in my high school boyfriend’s beat up Taurus and saying “I have to do theater!” I directed a production of Durang’s The Actor’s Nightmare – I got literally none of the jokes and made up my own. I applied to NYU early decision. Got in. Life.

2. Which performance, song, play, movie, painting or other work of art had the biggest influence on you and why?

Theatre de Complicite’s Mnemonic. I think it was the first time I had ever seen company created work that was emotional as well as intellectual. It worked on so many different levels: it was stunning visually and simultaneously quite simple in its theatrical devices, the performances were beautiful, and the story moved gracefully between epic stories and completely personal experiences.

3. What skill, talent or attribute do you most wish you had and why?

I wish I could play the piano and compose. Terribly. I want to begin lessons again (quit when I was 10 or so). I think music is the coolest and I wish I could make it.

4. What do you do to make a living? Describe a normal day.

Oy. Up not too early but before 9:30. I teach directing 8 hrs straight at NYU to awesome 19 & 20 year old students. I head to rehearsal for six hours. I help an elderly psychiatrist turn on her Macintosh computer for a couple hours. I drink several glasses of red wine or beer. I sit at a computer for 10 hrs straight trying to edit video footage together for a grant. I see my boyfriend on the couch and we watch a Wire. I eat popcorn for dinner.

5. Have you ever had to make a choice between work and art? What did you choose, why, and what was the outcome?

I don’t think so. Generally I’ve been fortunate enough to happen into day jobs that are super duper flexible. I’ve definitely chosen between art and making actual money. And art won without a second thought. And now art is supporting me. Sort of. But yeah.

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