A misunderstanding about who would direct Taylor Mac’s play “Hir” (pronounced “Here”) has prompted the New York-based actor and playwright to withdraw his work from Studio Theatre’s 2014-15 season.
Mac’s play–unveiled just this past Sunday as part of Studio’s announcement of its 10-play season –was to have been an entry in the company’s 2ndStage program. Artistic director David Muse chose Holly Twyford to direct it. (The specific dates have yet to be announced for any of the plays in Studio’s season.) A well-known Washington actress, Twyford has shifted some of her attention of late to directing. Earlier this season, she directed Studio’s production of playwright Sam Holcroft’s “Edgar & Annabel.”
Twyford’s selection was news to Mac, an actor-songwriter and author of 16 plays, who often presents a sexually polymorphic stage persona. He recently scored a success at New York’s Public Theater as the central character in Bertolt Brecht’s “The Good Person of Szechwan,” playing Shen Te, a woman who disguises herself as a man. “Hir,” which premiered earlier this year at San Francisco’s Magic Theatre, is Mac’s play in which a character adopts a third gender identity that is designated by the newly invented pronoun of the title.
Mac said that because Studio’s production would represent only the second production of “Hir,” he wanted the director of the San Francisco version, Niegel Smith, to stage it again. “They announced it before talking to me,” he said, of Studio. “Niegel has been working on this play with me for the last two years,” Mac added, explaining his decision had nothing to do with Twyford’s directorial skills. “We just still feel that the play and our process with it have some more work to do.”
Muse said he assumed Mac knew of Studio’s interest in having Twyford direct, since her name had been mentioned to Mac’s agent. He said he decided to find a substitute play for Twyford, rather than try to rework the schedule to accommodate Mac and his desired director.
“We’re in dialogue with Holly about what her next project will be,” Muse said. “And we will be happy to work with Taylor at some point in the future.”