Katie: Miriam Schwartz, welcome back to MJTC. This marks your ninth production with us, but the first time as a director! How did you come to direct The Mikveh Monologues?
Miriam: Well, Barbara Brooks (MJTC Founder & Producing Artistic Director) approached me about the opportunity. I was initially apprehensive— I have been fortunate to work with so many amazing directors at MJTC and elsewhere, and the task of living up to them felt daunting! But I am so grateful to Barbara for continuing to encourage me to take on projects that feel out of my comfort zone. I read the piece several times, took a deep breath, and agreed to direct it!
Katie: Wow - we’re so thrilled you’re on board! What are you looking forward to the most?
Miriam: I am most looking forward to diving into the text with my cast. The process of asking questions, making discoveries, and shaping specific moments that are unique to the pairing of a particular actor with a particular character. That's magic!
Katie: It certainly is. Has being a director changed how you look at a script?
Miriam: Definitely! I think even as an actor, I often find myself trying to understand a piece—and my role in a piece— from a macro perspective, like a director. Now, I get to indulge in that tendency! I'm thinking about themes and dramatic structure. My pre-rehearsal research is much more in-depth. Rather than character arcs, I'm looking at the entire show's arc and will work with the actors through our rehearsals to discover their character(s) arcs and bring them to life.
Katie: Yay! I can’t wait to see how you guide the story and characters. So tell me, what is wonderful, cool, or enjoyable about this project?
Miriam: I love that this project is tied to a much larger project with a social mission, and that we are moving beyond the walls of MJTC. I love that the stories are honest and rich, and the way they tie ancient ritual to the present moment through authentic, contemporary voices.
Katie: I myself knew nothing about the mikveh prior to the show, but after reading the script, I found it to deeply moving. I can’t imagine the level of beauty the cast will bring to it! I guess I’ll have to wait.
Miriam: I guess you will! I have a fantastic cast and I think working with them on this script is going to be so cool.
Katie: What’s it like being a director so far?
Miriam: We haven't started rehearsals yet, but it was fascinating to be on the other side of the table for the audition process. I think I may have been more nervous than I normally am for auditions where I'm doing the acting! I learned so much about the piece from what the actors brought into the room, and loved having the power to create an audition room experience like the one I would want to have.
Katie: Do you think you’ll direct again?
Miriam: We’ll see…
Katie: Anything else you’d like to share?
Miriam: Yes— my experience touring the mikveh while visiting Tzfat was profoundly moving. I am so excited to be exploring the tradition through this piece from the director's seat!
Katie: Thanks Miriam – I can’t wait to see your work.
Miriam: Thank you!
Miriam Schwartz is a Seattle native and graduate of the University of Minnesota/Guthrie Theater BFA Actor Training Program. She is thrilled to be marking her ninth production with Minnesota Jewish Theatre Company. Previously she played Amber in Actually, Natasha in Natasha and the Coat, in the one-woman piece DAI (Enough), Alex in Church & State, Daphna in Bad Jews, Dr. Ruth in Becoming Dr. Ruth, Jessica in Jericho, and Ayelet in Handle With Care. Other recent theater credits include the Guthrie Theater, Walking Shadow Theatre Company, 7th House Theater, Workhaus Collective, and Theatre Forever.