“Her plays tend to say to an audience, ‘Hey there, buckle up, this ain’t going to be easy, but you’re not going to forget what we’ve got in store for you.’ Don’t be fooled by her charming veneer: Schultz is a hard-ass. She’s the Mr. Miyagi of Chicago theater."
–playwright Sarah Gubbins in TimeOut Chicago

"I've never worked with a director who's been such a collaborator. She said on one of the first days, 'Whatever the best idea is in the room goes.' She's remarkably intelligent, but it's that rare, beautiful scenario where it is not coupled with an ego."
-actor Liam Forde in Metroweekly (Washington DC)

“What I love about Joanie’s body of work is she can really understand, deconstruct and then reconstruct the human experience. She finds emotional resonance in the mundane. And that’s what this play is. There’s gonna be a lot of mundane business, from an outsider’s point of view, but for the people in there, it’s magical."
-playwright Isaac Gomez about Joanie developing his new play, WALLY WORLD


These are the core values I hold dear as an artist, leader, thinker, and person.

Theater has the ability, or more specifically, the responsibility to make the invisible visible. We are an art-form that hinges on suspension of disbelief, and traffics far better in metaphor than realism. We can physicalize an emotion, ideal, state of being, dream—the potential for awe in the smallest of gestures is the essence of theatricality. The more we can distill and amplify the world around, the more successful our theatrical projects are at reaching the inner subconscious of our audience. We have the potential to create deep empathetic experiences for people in an era gravely in need of human connection.

I believe that we must use the platform of the stage to help the world see what they might not, to connect them to what is invisible to them in their daily lives. In particular, much of my work as a director focuses on the forgotten: not only the outcasts of society and people who go through life mostly invisible, but also the part of a person’s psyche or heart that has been cast aside, the consequences of an action that might not be apparent, or just a part of life that isn't usually discussed. By bringing to light the forgotten, we use the theatre to remember, rediscover, and realize.

We live in a world where we are inundated with information and entertainment in which it is easy to forget and overlook people, things, feelings, and possibilities. The theatre is a rare opportunity to unplug and share space with other live human beings in a room, breathing the same air, and focusing on the same moment. This is not only special, this is necessary. Without art to refocus us and call attention to the forgotten we might never remember. Things will be lost. People will be lost. And we won't know why.

I hope that people leave my productions with questions that stick with them. I hope they leave having discussions with other human beings and with themselves. I hope that they are inspired to think about or interact with the world a little bit differently. I hope they leave with hope.

Much of the work I create resides in a genre I call mythic realism. That is, a world based in a reality that is recognizable to us in some way, but with events that transcend what we believe to be the limitations of this world. Mostly, I am drawn to ordinary characters who exist in extraordinary circumstances, either by their own mind’s construction, or by the extreme state of the world they live in. These extraordinary circumstances are integral to creating theatrical metaphor, and therefore asking the audience to become co-creators in the reality of the play. This is imperative: that the audience can be drawn in by the truthfulness of the production, and yet are asked to engage fully to make the work complete, by solving the mystery, decoding the metaphor, involving themselves directly in creating meaning the production. My work can only point them towards thought and feeling, the audience must think and feel for themselves.

My inspirations include (among so many): small gestures of connection, Haruki Murakami, Pina Bausch, the sea, Robert Kennedy, Edith Craig, Jane Austen, radical acceptance, Sophie Treadwell, Ingmar Bergman, Chris Kraus, exotic birds, Joan of Arc, Gregory Crewdson, Thomas Ostermeier, Handel, Michele Gondry, Bjork, that space between perfection and the truth, Kierkegaard, the city of Chicago, and everyone who tries really really hard.

And I keep close to my heart and try to live what my mentor, Sheldon Patinkin, taught me, "we have a responsibility to each other".

Here's a more straight forward bio:

After receiving her B.A. in theater directing from Columbia College, where she studied with David Cromer, Sheldon Patinkin, Henry Godinez, and many other creative artists; Joanie Schultz arrived on the Chicago theater scene as Artistic Director and co-founder of Flush Puppy Productions. Their first full-length play, Acts of Mercy, was heralded by Justin Hayford in the Chicago Reader, stating that the playwright, "couldn't ask for a smarter, more nuanced staging than this one by Joanie Schultz for Flush Puppy Productions, a world premiere. Like a handful of other great young directors in town…Schultz coaxes from her actors seemingly effortless performances that have titanic effects. Her cast have dug deep into the psychologies of their characters but never compromise Garces's well-honed script. There's craft evident in nearly every moment, lending even the darkest of them in this unapologetically dark play a kind of beauty."

Ms. Schultz continued her work as Artistic Director of Flush Puppy Productions while working among other things as the assistant to the Artistic Director of Steppenwolf Theatre, where she found mentorship among world-class theater artists and the opportunity to learn from the Steppenwolf ensemble’s creative process by participating in artistic staff meetings, observing rehearsals, assistant directing, and directing.

She then went on to receive her M.F.A. from Northwestern University, where she was mentored by Anna D. Shapiro, and also studied with great directors such as Frank Galati, Mary Zimmerman, Amy Morton, and Jessica Thebus.

In the fall of 2006, Ms. Schultz had the unique opportunity to observe the creation process of world-famous director Robert Lepage’s work with Ex Machina in Quebec City. When she returned she had developed an expanded view of international theater, creation, and a desire to direct opera, which she began pursuing upon return to Chicago. She assistant directed and directed for Chicago Opera Theatre, The Bay View Music Festival, Chicago Cultural Center, New Millennium Orchestra, Roosevelt University, and Italian Operatic Experience in Tuscany.

For the last ten years, Joanie has been busy in both theater and opera as a freelance director, assistant director, and directing teacher. She has worked in Chicago, nationally, and abroad.

Recent work includes directing for The Goodman Theatre, Steppenwolf Theatre, Victory Gardens Theater, The Cleveland Play House, Kansas City Repertory Theatre, Studio Theatre in Washington DC, and many other theatres throughout Chicago. Joanie holds an MFA in directing from Northwestern University; was a Drama League Fellow; The Goodman Theatre's Michael Maggio Directing Fellow; the SDCF Denham Fellow; a Lincoln Center Theater Directors Lab participant; and was 2013 Co-Artistic Curator for Theater on the Lake. She is an ensemble member at Steep Theatre; an associate artist with Victory Gardens Theater in Chicago; an artistic cabinet member at Studio Theatre in DC; and is on the theater faculty of Columbia College and University of Chicago.

From 2014-16, Joanie was a participant in the Leadership U: One-on-One program, funded by The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation and administered by Theatre Communications Group, wherein she worked under the mentorship of Victory Gardens Theater's Artistic Director, Chay Yew, serving as Associate Artistic Producer.

Joanie began as Artistic Director of WaterTower Theatre in January of 2017, relocating to Dallas, TX in the spring of 2017.

**Photo on Left by Joe Mazza www.bravelux.com**