DIRECTING PHILOSOPHY 

My directing style boldly fuses text-based dramaturgy with a dynamic visual aesthetic in order to explore the full dimensions of design and composition, and to evoke the complexities of the human experience onstage. Theatre is a transformative art – visually, physically, emotionally, spiritually – and as a director I attempt to embrace all of those aspects from conceptualization to closing night curtain. I believe that my role as director is to provide a focused unifying vision for the total production that guides active collaboration, encourages expansive thinking, fosters a safe environment for artistic risk, and ultimately facilitates the practical implementation of these factors in rehearsal and performance.

I believe the primary functions of theatre are to entertain and to honestly reflect the culture of the world around it. My extensive training and background have given me the tools to preserve well-established performance traditions while at the same time providing a bold, dynamic forum for provocative new voices and diverse points of view. I will always attempt to provide my audiences with intelligent, daring theatrical productions that seek to empower, educate, and cultivate the best of humanity by exploring plays that are structurally innovative, philosophically challenging, provide strong roles for actors, and address significant historical and social issues. I always try to promote a distinctive, vibrant visual performance aesthetic by partnering myself with performers and designers who are imaginative, resourceful, willing to take risks, and embrace the innately theatrical conventions of the art form.

While I have built my reputation as a director and producer on the development and production of contemporary plays that explore alternative points of view, I possess the versatility to take on a wide variety of texts and styles. My classical training and professional experience as an actor and dramaturg provide me with a solid foundation of skills that would transfer to the production of Shakespeare, musical theatre, and modern American or European realism, in both mainstream and non-traditional contexts.

As you can see from the representative production photos contained in my portfolio, I believe in making bold visual statements onstage, even in the most intimate, limited budget environments. But I never sacrifice the core emotional truth of a play or its characters, in favor of a stylized, intentionally theatrical production aesthetic.

Theatre is magic and has captured me in its spell from my childhood. My goal as a director is to cast that spell on audiences and artists alike, to evoke memories or provoke emotions in the service of creating new, imaginative worlds that have to power to elicit tears, laughter, anger, revolution, and wonder, and to change lives.

I want to challenge audiences to experience both the familiar and the new in a setting where the artistry of the productions is always top-notch. Regardless of whether audience members like a play or not, they know it is produced well.  I want people to react strongly to my work on a visceral level – they love it or they hate it. I think the worst insult a production can receive is that it is “mediocre.”  I want to commit fully to a project or not do it at all.

View Directing Resume

THEATRE REVIEW HIGHLIGHTS

Hamlet
“David’s Hamlet production is surely one of the boldest conceptual-art events in history.” 
-Marc Mardon, The Bay Area Reporter

“David’s concept is catchy with unfettered creativity.  Realism amplified.” 
-Rona March, San Francisco Chronicle 

A Queer Carol
“I’d say it’s pretty damn imaginative. The director, Clay David has turned this story into an eye-popping epic with splendid performances that make this play ‘like nothing you’ve ever seen before.’ It’s the Big Bang of the season. RATING: FOUR GLASSES OF CHAMPAGNE!!!! (Highest rating)” 
-Lee Hartgrave,  San Francisco’s Beyond Chron ‘The Voice Of The Rest’

 Hit It!
“Under the direction of Clay David, Hit It is one of the most highly spirited, delightfully and audaciously crafted musical shows you will see outside a professional Broadway theatre.” 
-J. Carlos Moore, Technical Director, Alvin Ailey American Dance Theatre 

Dangerous
Dangerous is brilliant. The direction by Clay David flows smoothly.. It is this mixture of emotions that pushes and pulls the audience through this sexually charged drama. It certainly is a dangerous combination. But, it is one that is like a magnet. You find yourself on that bed. Believe me! You’ll need Kleenex for this emotional performance.  We are all callous. This play just shows us how much! RATING: FOUR GLASSES OF CHAMPAGNE!!!!” 
-Lee Hartgrave,  San Francisco’s Beyond Chron ‘The Voice Of The Rest’ 

Dangerous is a recipient of the Lee Hartgrave “Fame Award” for best Drama.”

“Director Clay David helms a very tight and fast production that seems like a film, with smooth and quick blackouts. Clay David directs this Machiavellian morality tale with severity, yet wisely grants the audience occasional moments of comic relief. With lots of imagination (and onstage furniture), he swiftly flies from location to location with a minimum of black-out time.” 
-Tom W. Kelly, San Francisco Bay Times 

Southern Baptist Sissies
“If Southern Baptist Sissies were not in better hands it would never be the spectacle of splendor and entertainment that it is. My hat is off to Clay David for this extraordinary directing job. If there is one play you see this year – make it this one! Director David is recipient of Lee Hartgrave’s FAME best play award and best ensemble play at the New Conservatory Center. They have had a very good year and are fast becoming the best Theater Company in San Francisco. RATING: FOUR GLASSES OF CHAMPAGNE” 
-Lee Hartgrave, Theatre Critic, Beyond Chron ‘The Voice Of The Rest’ 

“Director Clay David gives a fluid and energetic staging of Del Shore’s controversial work, an irreverent, butt kicking, Southern fried humor play with dark undercurrents.” 
-Richard Connema, talkinbroadway.com

 

 

Little Women
“I am constantly amazed with Clay’s innovation for staging, his ear for the delicacy of language, his unsurpassed visual sense and his deep humanity and concern for others.  David’s play Little Women far surpasses the new Broadway production.  This is the stuff legends are made of.  Too much praise?  Not, I fear, nearly enough.”
-Marc Craig, The Advocate

When We Danced
“The addition of Clay David to the creative process was a wise move, since he has a knack for pulling the very best out of the material he works with.  He has something of a golden touch for finding hidden gems in scripts, pulling new depths of emotion from performers and turning works into something memorable.  “Clay magic” was certainly evident in staging the new work.”
-Pat Craig, Contra Costa Times, West County Times, San Jose Mercury News

Riders on the Storm
“This forceful story of the Civil Rights Movement has been vividly retold in Clay David’s new musical drama Riders on the Storm where Bayard Rustin’s homosexuality is brought to center stage in no uncertain terms.  This new opera leaves no doubt as to the allegory’s meaning-prejudice against gays and lesbians are no more just than prejudice against African-Americans.  Other moments from the history of the civil rights are similarly reenacted, and the image of a white sheeted Klansman marching with a lynched African American dangling from an A-frame is not likely to be forgotten.”
-Travis Mason-Bushman, The Advocate

Phantom of the Opera
“Credit Clay David with conjuring up the musty atmosphere of the Paris Opera, the chill of the graveyard and the dank loneliness of the paintings, but they are re-staged with absolute faith and a shock of inventiveness.  Phantom is strangely moving, and you can practically feel your spinal cord jump out.  David has managed to poeticize the play’s essential pathos and impossibility with sensitivity and respect.”
-Susan Scaffidi, The Californian

Music Man
“Finding a new twist comes in taking the familiar and spinning it into gold, which David has done with Music Man. The cast explodes from the stage in flashes of movement and color that make the show leap to exciting levels and fill the theatre with the sort of exuberance audiences must have felt when the show debuted.  This masterpiece needed some additional fireworks to rocket it to standout status.  That, basically, is what Clay David has done.  It’s a stunningly good performance.”
-Pat Craig, Contra Costa Times, West County Times, San Jose Mercury News

Lysistrata Y2K
Clay David’s Lysistrata Y2K could easily be the most exciting piece of theatre right now.”
-Rob Morse, San Francisco Chronicle