David Schweizer -
Director of Satellites
David Schweizer has been directing and developing innovative new theater, performance and opera works for over thirty years both nationally and internationally.
He emerged from Yale Drama School to make his New York debut at Lincoln Center for impresario Joseph Papp in 1974 with a radical re-imagining of Shakespeare’s TROILUS AND CRESSIDA starring the young Christopher Walken. This led to other world premieres by notable American playwrights such as Sam Shepard (GEOGRAPHY OF AHORSEDREAMER), Ronald Tavel (THE LAST DAYS OF BRITISH HONDURAS), Dennis Reardon (SIAMESE CONNECTIONS) and many others in New York and at regional theaters such as the Yale Repertory Theater. During this early career period David also created an alternate young company at the Williamstown Theatre Festival which developed new work and toured, premiering works by Len Jenkin, Richard Nelson, John Ford Noonan, Michael Weller, Irene Fornes and David Mamet. It was also at this point that he directed his first opera, Mozart’s ABDUCTION FROM THE SERAGLIO, a notable success at the Houston Grand Opera.
In 1979, he was invited to Los Angeles to direct a play at the Mark Taper Forum and was subsequently invited to stay on as a staff director and to initiate a new play program there. Once again he directed and produced distinctive new theater works for several seasons based in LA, but he also began to work on more multi-disciplined theater projects with locally based visual and performance artists, forming his ownn onprofit artist’s collective - MODERN ARTISTS whose works included many distinctive performances by artists such as John Fleck, Donald Krieger, Jan Munroe, and finally the company’s great triumph, a collaborative adaptation of Plato’s SYMPOSIUM which won many awards and has toured internationally at the ICM in London.
From this alternate base in California, Schweizer forged collaborations with other experimental theater troupes including MABOU MINES for whom he directed a multimedia piece called ITS A MAN’S WORLD which opened the new Los Angeles Theatre Center, and THEATRE X, an internationally reknowned American troupe based in Milwaukee, whose productions he directed and toured extensively in the Americas and in Europe - including A HISTORY OF SEXUALITY based on the works of Michael Foucault. At this time Schweizer’s work began to fuse the impulses of text-based theater and more formally radical works, and he was invited to work in eastern Europe where he spent several years working at national theaters in Poland, the Chech Republic, Hungary, and also touring American-based works extensively.
Back in Los Angeles he directed several important works locally including THE JONI MITCHELL PROJECT (a musical of his own devising), KINGFISH, GEOGRAPHY OF LUCK (both by Marlane Meyer) and DEMON WINE by Thomas Babe featuring Bill Pullmanl, Tom Waites, Carol Kane and Philip Baker Hall. His production of Lisa Loomer’s important social comedy THE WAITING ROOM played at the Taper and all around the country- and during this period Schweizer was also mounting startlingly visual productions of American classics such as ONCE IN A LIFETIME (at Trinity Rep) or STAGE DOOR (at UCLA).
Another important creative connection of this period was with Tim Robbins’ LA-based company THE ACTOR’S GANG with whom Schweizer directed productions of Charles Mee’s ORESTES, Ibsen’s PEER GYNT (in his own adaptation) and a newly discovered translation of Oscar Wilde’s SALOME by the poet Richard Howard. These works defined his style of intense theatricality,overtly presentational devices, and wild, often cathartic slapstick humor.
Solo performance works were also part of this Los Angeles-based period. He directed several pieces with actress/writer Ann Magnuson (YOU COULD BE HOME NOW, RAVE MOM) which also played in New York. Likewise the works of Marga Gomez (JAY WALKER, SINGLE WET FEMALE, and the current LOS BIG NAMES) and Mike Albo (MY PRICE POINT ). Also a very fruitful relationship with the NPR satirist Sandra Tsing Loh producted several shows that have also toured extensively including ALIENS IN AMERICA, I WORRY, SUGAR PLUM FAIRY, and the most recent which just completed a long Los Angeles run, MOTHER ON FIRE.
In the last decade, Schweizer has begun to somewhat specialize in music-driven theater events, often classic grand operas but sometimes other more experimental pieces. His production of Rinde Eckert’s AND GOD CREATED GREAT WHALES was an OBIE AWARD winner in New York and has toured with great success finally playing the Barbican Center in London. Eckert’s new piece HORIZON was also a critical triumph in New York last spring and has been touring nationally. At Long Beach Opera, he has mounted such notable productions as Henry Purcell’s INDIAN QUEEN (in a new adaptation by Guillermo Gomez-Pina) Thomas Ades’ provocative modern opera POWDER HER FACE, Henze’s ELEGY FOR YOUNG LOVERS. And last season at New York City opera he directed Sir Richard Rodney Bennett’s MINES OF SULPHUR to great acclaim. Other striking work in the opera world- a rare production of Benjamin Britten’s ALBERT HERRING and a world premiere of Stephen Hartke’s first opera, THE GREATER GOOD at the Glimmerglass Festival last summer.
Now again based primarily in New York, David Schweizer continues to pursue a life in the theatrical arts that encompasses any and all forms that interest him. His Atlantic City Casino music and dance revue LATIN SOL, a collaboration with writer/performer Taylor Negron, was the longest running music show that ever played there and sucessfully re-evaluated the genre of casino entertainment. For a sense of his range- in the last few seasons off Broadway he has directed a broad farce about race relations -WHITE CHOCOLATE, a poetic reverie by Charles Mee-WINTERTIME, a political thriller, BEAUTY ON THE VINE, and a song cycle featuring one lyricist and eighteen different composers- SONGS FROM AN UNMADE BED. As a director in the theater he remains perpetually committed to exploring the continued vitality of theatrical story-telling.