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Podcasts with America's seminal directors and choreographers

Enjoy rare insights into how theatre is made with this podcast interview series produced by Stage Directors and Choreographers Workshop Foundation (SDCF) and co-presented by TDF. Browse three decades of priceless one-on-one conversations and panel discussions with distinguished theatre and dance luminaries.

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Joe Dowling

Date: Jan 01, 2000


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In January of 2000, Joe Dowling met with SDC Members and guests at Chicago Shakespeare Theatre to discuss his career in the classics. It is a career that began long before his appointment as Artistic Director at Minneapolis' Guthrie Theatre in 1995, and even before becoming the Artistic Director of Ireland's National Theatre, the Abbey, at the age of 27. As family legend goes, his first artistic note to an actor was at the age of three, and it was instant recognition that he would spend his life on stage. In this interview with former SDCF Executive Director, David Diamond, Joe Dowling tracks his theatre life beginning with stories from his decades as an actor with the Abbey Theatre Company. He began his directing career in the 1960's with children's theater at the Abbey's smaller space, the Peacock theatre, revolutionizing the energy of the company until he was appointed Artistic Director in 1977. He speaks of his time as the Abbey's AD, the collaborative relationships he developed there with playwrights like Brian Friel, and the politics that caused his resignation. He goes on to discuss his American career and its origins at D.C.'s Arena Stage and the Manhattan Theatre Club. Then he covers the process through which he directs a classic production; his methods for preparation and exploration, and his affinity for tech rehearsals. He calls himself an actor's director. He believes the director's role is that of an interpreter more often than a creator. And he maintains that he works best with collaborators he enjoys as people, no matter how good the concept, idea or the design.