"If you are going to have a story, have a big story or none at all."
A theatre director is above all a storyteller: the lead collaborator in a group of artists bringing a story to life on stage, in real time, born out of the relationship between the actors and the audience. The director's job is to create an environment in which each collaborator can do their best work, and to guide the storytelling process by continuing to investigate these questions:
Why this play? Why now? What is vital about this story? How can the story be told in a way that will delight, provoke, surprise, and challenge the audience? How can the story be used to question the way things are, and point to the way things could be?
Amidst a landscape of digital entertainment, the theatre is a refuge from media saturation. It is an empathy machine. A place of concentration. Of solemnity. A place of frivolity and earthly delights. It is a crucible where we come to encounter great stories and to be transformed by them.
Telling classical stories: timeless and more topical than ever;
Telling contemporary stories: reflecting the challenges of our changing culture.
Storytelling for the 21st Century
Brian Bell is a stage director and performer based in Berlin. Originally from Texas, Brian’s work ranges from contemporary American plays, including Tracy Letts, Naomi Wallace, and Neil LaBute, to world premieres of new plays and devised works, most recently The Feast by Tony Fiorentino in Chicago and KING with PENG!Palast in Switzerland, as well as the classical repertoire in both English and German. In 2014 he made his directorial debut at the German National Theater (DNT) in Weimar with Tracy Letts’ Killer Joe, where he was the assistant to the artistic director from 2013-2015. An audience favorite, Killer Joe was in the DNT’s repertoire for three seasons and had its final performance in June of 2017.
From 2006-2012 he lived in Chicago where he was the artistic director of Cabaret Vagabond and an ensemble member and literary manager at Adventure Stage Chicago. In the fall of 2015 he directed Bertolt Brecht's A Life of Galileo with the ETOPiA program at Northwestern University. Other Chicago credits include the Prop Thtr, Collaboraction, Lincoln Square Theatre, and Piccolo Theatre. In 2012 Brian's world premiere production of Tony Fiorentino's play The Feast was nominated for a Joseph Jefferson award for Best New Play.
Brian is an alumnus of the International Forum of the Theatertreffen in Berlin and collaborated on a production of Danton's Death by Georg Büchner at the State Theatre of Stuttgart as the 2011 Goethe Institute Directing Fellow. In 2012 he was the Step 8 Director in Residence at the English Theatre Berlin as well as having devised and performed in Projekt G: A Theatrical Investigation of Happiness, in Tokyo & Fukushima.
His production of KING, a devised piece based on the works of Stephen King with Peng!Palast in Switzerland, was on tour in central Europe from 2013-2016 and received its final performances as a part of the East Coast Horror Festival in Berne. New productions in the 2016/17 season included Decompression by Juli Zeh, a novel adaptation at the DNT in Weimar, Baby Talk a musical at the Stadttheater Ingolstadt, and the Shakespeare series One Night Stand: ein Shakespeare-iment at the Pfefferberg Theater in Berlin.
Brian opened the second production of Peter Lund's new musical Stella: das blonde Gespenst vom Kurfürstendamm, about the life of Stella Goldschlag, at the Stadttheater Ingolstadt in October 2017. The production was nominated for a German Musical Theater Award for Best Revival of a Musical from the Deutsche Musical Akademie.
In the 2018/19 season Brian will be directing the world premiere of the new musical ETENNA in Esslingen, The Soldier’s Tale by Stravinsky at the Staatstheater Meiningen as well as being in the jury for the Chemnitzer Theater Prize and directing the world premiere production of the winning script, opening on May 3rd 2019.
The Poetics of Provocation A recent article as a part of the "Stages of Resistance" blog for The Lark Theatre in NYC about Austrian playwright Elfriede Jelinek's work and its potential to be staged in the English-speaking world.
Theater and the Net A contribution to the TCG Circle blog about the future of theater and digital technology. Published in the new book Audience Revolution: Dispatches from the Field and released at the TCG national conference 2016.
Repertory is the Answer An article published in May 2014 on the Howlround blog about the repertory model as a possible solution to the challenges faced by regional theaters in the 21st century.
Storm the Boards A blog with theatre reviews and project updates and the home for all of Brian’s writing online.
*Photo by Christian Jungeboldt, PR materials for This is How it Goes, English Theatre Berlin 2012