Reviews for Joanie's new adaptation of A DOLL'S HOUSE

I took on writing my own 90-minute adaptation of Henrik Ibsen’s A DOLL’S HOUSE in 2018, which premiered at WaterTower Theatre. I couldn’t be more proud of this fast-paced adaptation. And the critics liked it too!

New 'Doll's House' adaptation shows how a woman's struggle to be heard is still achingly relevant, Dallas Morning News
”Nora may dress in an old-fashioned bustle, but Kate Paulsen's riveting performance as a woman scrambling on the inside to make everything perfect on the outside, etches an achingly contemporary journey in this 90-minute intermissionless production.” -Nancy Churnin

BWW Review: A DOLL'S HOUSE Comes Alive at WaterTower Theatre, Broadwayworld.com

“WaterTower offers a sophisticated and enlightening modernization. Director and adapter Joanie Schultz modernizes the language and keeps the design firmly rooted in history. The choice to adapt does not hide a lack of understanding on Schultz's part - it in fact shows a true depth of understanding and familiarity with the text. It certainly does not disguise an insufficient budget; elaborate and historically correct fashions created by Melissa Panzarello and Amy Poe, in conjunction with a marvelous set designed by Chelsea M. Warren, convincingly portray the wealth of the late 17th century family at the heart of the drama. And if Schultz feared the audience might not understand? Rather than putting a band aid on that fear with some flashy modern props, she digs into the root of the misunderstanding, the translation from old Norwegian into modern English.” -JoJo Stein

Little Boxes: At WaterTower Theatre, Joanie Schultz's Ibsen adaptation is A Doll's House for our time.

“Schultz’ adaptation is a very effective tweak of the original—particularly in a short, vital addition at the end. And Ibsen’s story is respected: it’s all here, with almost no plot points lost along the way. The play’s longest face-to-face conversations are pared down without sounding rushed (though a couple of Nora’s brief, agitated soliloquies might have remained). And the light-handed update of language isn’t jarring, but makes several lines land with greater force, as if the #MeToo movement were bumping up against the 19th-century rulebook:
Torvald: No man would sacrifice his honor.
Nora [after a pause, and a long, steady look]: It’s a thing millions of women do every day.

Schultz isn’t trying to cut through the period style of Ibsen’s work—but to let us see past the flowing skirts and high collars, to experience just why and how this play shocked late-19th-century audiences with its blunt realism.” -Jan Farrington

WaterTower Theatre Sweeps DFW Theater Critics Forum Awards!

“WaterTower Theatre in Addison racked up 11 honors in Joanie Schultz's first year as artistic director. The accolades were spread out over the season, with nods going to the world premiere of Bread by Regina Taylor; the company's original, devised holiday show, The Great Distance Home; and the regional premieres of Elliot, a Soldier's Fugue by Pulitzer Prize-winner Quiara Alegría Hudes and Kate Hamill's adaptation of Pride and Prejudice.” -Nancy Churnin, Dallas Morning News

Awards:

Outstanding Direction: Joanie Schultz, HAND TO GOD

Outstanding New Play: BREAD by Regina Taylor

Outstanding Performance by an Actor: Parker Gray, HAND TO GOD & Christopher Ramirez, ELLIOT, A SOLDIER’S FUGUE

Outstanding Performance by an Actress: Shannon McGrann, HAND TO GOD; Jenny Ledel, PRIDE AND PREJUDICE; Denise Lee, BREAD; and Stormi Demmerson, BREAD

Outstanding Ensemble: THE GREAT DISTANCE HOME

Outstanding Design or Creative Contribution: Kelsey Leigh Ervi and Ensemble for movement, THE GREAT DISTANCE HOME & Sam Lao and Brian McDonald for music, BREAD

The Reviews are in for HAND TO GOD at WaterTower Theatre

"Hand to God is a cautionary tale about the raw reality of big feelings that can't be papered over by sunny signs and a poster of a kitten that says "Blessed are the Purrr in heart." It's also an acting challenge as all the characters are trying to repress what's roiling inside, with words that are often at odd with their feelings. Under the direction of WaterTower Theatre's artistic director, Joanie Schultz, this ensemble hits every target.

Those targets feel all the more close to home because of the immersive setting, executed by Richard Ouelette, which riffs on the concept of the set for the production Schultz directed for Studio Theatre in Washington, D.C., in 2016. The Broadway show, which I saw in 2015, worked on a proscenium stage but is far more emotionally intense and moving in a space where patrons can arrive early and make sock puppets as if they are in the church basement with the actors, who move through the entire room as their stage."

-Nancy Churnin, Dallas Morning News

"Directors don’t always love every play they direct; sometimes the job is to make it appear as if they love the work. Schultz, whose vision is reshaping one of DFW’s best-known professional theaters, clearly loves this play. Her Hand to God is riotous and grab-the-person-next-to-you scary, sometimes at once. The testament to Askins’ writing is that it’s also challenging and unexpectedly moving."

 

Other Press Links:

-Dallas Voice

-Dallas Observer

-Culture Map

-Broadway World

 

WaterTower Theater Named Best Theatre 2018

The Dallas Observer named WaterTower Theatre the Best Theatre in Dallas!

“Addison's WaterTower Theatre made bold changes in 2017 and 2018 when they set out to attract a younger and more diverse audience. When their long-time director left, WaterTower brought in Joanie Schultz as artistic director, and she immediately set to work. Schultz ditched a previously announced production of Sunday in the Park With George and replaced it with a new play by Chicago playwright Ike Holter, Hit the Wall, about the Stonewall Riots. In spring 2018 WaterTower staged the world premiere of Regina Taylor's Bread, which explored timely issues including police violence and gentrification. Schultz also established a community engagement program called Intersections to facilitate conversation and offer context for the theater's productions. WaterTower's efforts are paying off. The rest of the year looks even more daring and innovative with the irreverent Hand to God, featuring a foul-mouthed puppet, followed by Schultz's own adaptation of Ibsen's A Doll's House.”

WaterTower Theatre's 2018-19 Season Announced

My second season as Artistic Director!

From theaterjones.com:

"Addison — If Joanie Schultz's first season at Artistic Director of WaterTower Theatre didn't signify changes coming to the Addison theater — one of the top five professional theaters in DFW, in terms of budget size — then the just-announced second season should do the trick. It's the boldest season the theater has ever managed, mainly because aside from Ibsen's A Doll's House, adapted by Schultz, it's filled with titles that even a somewhat savvy theater-goer familiar with recent off-Broadway titles and playwriting awardees wouldn't have heard of.

That, folks, is how you do it.

The mainstage season opens with A Doll's House, and follows with three regional premieres of the plays Guadalupe in the Guest Room and Everything is Wonderful and the musical The Ballad of Little Jo, and closes with the world premiere of Nathan Alan Davis' Origin Story, which was seen in a reading at WaterTower's first Detour Festival this year. Noteworthy: Not only are these plays women-driven in terms of character and story, they're all directed by women. Schultz takes on Doll's House and Little Jo, Kelsey Leigh Ervi has Everything is Wonderful, Christie Vela helms Guadalupe, and Tiffany Nichole Green does Origin Story, which she also directed at Detour. Also important to note: two of those women are women of color (Vela and Green).

Season extras include the second Detour festival (moved to January), the return of the devised holiday work The Great Distance Home, and a special presentation of Unveiled: A One Woman Play, written and performed by Chicago-based Rohina Malik, who tells the stories of five Muslim women.

To boot, WaterTower is the 2018-19 home for Dark Circles Contemporary Dance, which will have three productions in the season at WTT, each featuring new works by local and national choreographers. Dark Circles was one of the highlights of the first Detour festival, and the space must have worked out for the group.

I also want to note something Schultz has done with both season announcements that you typically don't see from arts organizations here, aside from the Dallas Opera: A unified photo story themed to the season. Just look at the pics in the slideshow (click the button on the floating menu at the bottom left of your screen). Fantastic work from rising local photog Evan Michael Wood, who's also a photography regular with Stage West and Second Thought Theatre."

 

Joanie is Named one of Dallas' Most Fascinating People 2017

“This year, WaterTower Theatre got a savvy new artistic director in the form of Joanie Schultz of Chicago. Schultz has already made some bold choices. The first play she chose to direct was Hit the Wall, Chicago playwright Ike Holter’s 2013 play about the Stonewall Riots.

‘If every play you do is not life-changing, then you’re doing it wrong,’ Schultz said. ‘I don’t know why you would do a play otherwise.’

Schultz is also impacting the local theater community in other ways. She has been a leading light in the conversation about sexual harassment in the theater. She helped arrange for a town hall meeting on the subject at Arts Mission Oak Cliff earlier this month.” -Caroline North

See the article here!