I am a storyteller and primarily identify as a director. As a citizen-artist, I work to build a loving and just society. I promote this utopian vision by creating experiences that hold space for underrepresented and oft-erased perspectives. As human beings, our deepest need is to see one another, and to be seen. To be seen is to be valued; to be invisible is to be erased. I devise experiences that expand our vision, and encourage an obligation to each another as beings sharing a human experience—sacred, fragile, wondrous.
I believe in the transformative power of live performance. Great performances convey meaning that concentrates thought and emotion, but also leaves sensual traces of what was felt, seen, touched, heard, known. Great performances are material events; they change people psychically, spiritually, and physically. They change whole cultures, even the world.
My utopian vision also informs how I hold space as a director. I select projects that help me journey into my lived experience and which can benefit from my unique background. With designers, I articulate a vision precise enough to invite their most adventurous work, and expansive enough to embrace their offerings. With performers, I come alongside them in the development of roles and open paths to discover what they alone can express.
I structure my processes with intention, beginning with collective discussions, embodied analysis, and improvisational explorations. Since stories turn on conflict—unfulfilled need—I aim for friction, freedom, and specificity in performance. My rehearsals are playful. I facilitate ensemble-building with games and improvisations. Through mini-workshops that emphasize consent-based practices, I empower artists (especially actors) to name their boundaries, find enthusiastic yesses, and enter conflict with care and curiosity.
James Baldwin said, “Not everything that is faced can be changed, but nothing can be changed until it is faced.” We find ourselves in a broken world. Slavery, the Native American genocide, and torrents of greed have scarred our society. Not all wounds are equal, but we are all wounded. We are also gifted with a spark of love and capacity for renewal. I am building a body of work that binds up our wounds and frees our spirits, one story at a time.
Graham Schmidt is a Brooklyn-based storyteller. Graham creates experiences--plays new and old, devised work, events--that imagine and endeavor to bring about a just and loving society, one story at a time.
Graham has directed and developed work at Ensemble Studio Theatre, Aye Defy, the Lark Theatre, the Wild Project, the National Winter Playwrights’ Retreat, the Blue Theater, the Off Center, Egg and Spoon Theatre Collective, NYU-Tisch, Fordham University, the American Academy of Dramatic Arts, and UT-Austin.
From 2007 – 2015, Graham served as resident director of the company he founded, Breaking String Theater Co. (Austin, TX). Graham’s work with Breaking String included re-imaginings of canonical plays (The Seagull, Uncle Vanya, The Cherry Orchard, Ghosts), international collaborations (Dulcey and Roxy at City Hall), contemporary and brand new American plays (The Beyoncé by Eliza Bent, Three, or the Sound of the Great Existential Nothingness by Timothy Braun, The How And The Why, by Sarah Treem), and annual new plays festivals that he produced from 2011 - 2013.
Graham serves as Chay Yew's Associate Director on the 2022-23 national tour of Lauren Yee's Cambodian Rock Band. He teaches acting in BFA programs at Pace University and Brooklyn College, and lives in Brooklyn with his impossibly delightful staffy-lab mix, Scout.