Toby Vera Bercovici, MFA
 Title: Ast Professor of Practice
 Dept: Theatre & Dance
 Office: MB 268
 Phone: 216-687-2117
 Address: 2121 Euclid Ave. MB 268, Cleveland, OH 44115

Courses Taught

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Research Keywords:
Intimacy Choreography, Feminist Adaptation, Ensemble Creation
B.A., Theater, Smith College, 2006
MFA, Theater - Directing, University of Massachusetts Amherst, 2011
Brief Bio:
Toby Vera Bercovici is a director whose work utilizes a rigorous authenticity, playful relationship with the elements of time, and uniquely feminist aesthetic to help tell important stories. Her work has been presented in NYC at Theater for the New City, the Looking Glass Theatre, and the Circus Warehouse, as well as in New England by Silverthorne Theater, Hampshire Shakespeare Company, Pauline Productions, Real Live Theatre, Serious Play! Theatre Ensemble, and others. She is a governing company member of Massachusetts-based ensemble Real Live Theatre, and has served as assistant director at La Mama E.T.C. and Classic Stage Company. She has ongoing training with the Michael Chekhov Association, Shakespeare & Company, Intimacy Directors International, and in the Suzuki Method and Authentic Movement.
Honors and Awards:
Directing Fellowship, Asolo Repertory Theatre, 2018-2019
Premiere Fellowship, Cleveland Public Theatre, 2020-2021
Creative and Activities:
I have created numerous dance-theater adaptations of classic texts, including The *Annotated* Taming: Or, Out of the Saddle, Into the Dirt and The Life and Death of Queen Margaret. I believe it is our duty as theater makers to bring the fullness of ourselves and of our present moment to the stage, while also acknowledging the political and aesthetic history out of which this presence grows. I weave strong feminist counter-narratives into classic texts, and what emerges is work that illuminates rather than glorifies, and that juxtaposes historical snapshots with examples of our current flawed but beautifully diverse present.

I am currently at work on When the Mind's Free, a piece which lifts language, ideas, and story from Shakespeare's King Lear and places them in a contemporary context, that of a family dealing with the early onset Alzheimer's of the matriarch and the addiction of the youngest daughter. It explores the relationship of Sound to Time and Mortality: the big, free sounds we make when we are born and as we die, and the moments sound is stifled in between; sounds we make as women in community; sound as a means by which we leave our mark upon the world. The language in this piece is mainly contemporary and is emerging out of improvisations guided not only by our study of the text of King Lear, but also by these big questions: What does it mean to have accurate memories, and why do we need them? Separated from our memories, who are we? Can we maintain intimate relationships without shared memories? How can the Buddhist principle of non-attachment help us in caring for those with memory loss and those who suffer from addiction? And finally, how do we bring levity and light into our darkest hours?
Research Interests:
"Our bodies are maps," "Written on the body," "The graffiti of the body." Our language reveals our understanding of our bodies as palimpsests, as texts covered and erased time and again, retaining traces of experience, of touch. We have what I call the Exquisite Human Polarity: an overwhelming desire to be seen coupled with the terror of being truly known. We long for someone to come along and uncover our partially erased texts, to read us deeply and understand our intertextuality. But at the edge of this longing is the fear: what will our writing reveal?

People become theater artists for various reasons, and it took me a long while to define what it was that had always drawn me here. I was finally able to distill it down to an interest in the depth and complexity of what it means to be human, and a desire to use the theater to rehearse, literally and metaphorically, for the significant moments in our lives, both the challenges and the pleasures. Thus, it was a natural extension of my own work as a director to unearth, explore, break apart, put back together, and then codify the mysteries of human relationships, and to investigate the psychological and physiological manifestations of intimacy within those relationships.

Questions I began to ask myself included:

How does the way two people touch each other change over time, from first intimacy through years of knowledge and experience? If actors are playing two people who have been married for fifty years, what kind of work is necessary to make their physical relationship believable? And, what's in a name? How does the way we say a person's name change over time, with our deepening love and desire? And, what secrets and memories do our bodies hold, and what are we aware of in other people's bodies? When two people come together, how does this shared physical knowledge affect their lexicon of gesture? Out of these questions, and over the years, I have developed exercises to fit the needs of specific projects. I have also recently rooted this work in my expanding knowledge of the psycho-physical acting techniques of Michael Chekhov.

I teach workshops, function as intimacy choreographer and consultant on various projects (including Asolo Repertory Theatre's production of The Cake and Portland Stage's Refuge Malja), and let these ideas deeply infuse my own directorial processes.

The longer I am on the planet, and the more training I receive in a variety of different disciplines, the more I am able to refine my understanding of intimacy and layer in new exercises and discoveries. Each production becomes a lab in which to investigate the origins and expressions of human desire.
Teaching Areas:
Acting, Directing, Movement, Adaptation, Intimacy Choreography
Professional Affiliations:
Michael Chekhov Association, Real Live Theatre, Pauline Productions
Professional Experience:

When the Mind's Free (Real Live Theatre)
The *Annotated* Taming (Hampshire Shakespeare)
The Roommate (Pauline Productions)
The Life and Death of Queen Margaret (Theater for the New City)
Stupid Fucking Bird (Silverthorne Theater)
Here's Where I Let Go (Salient Productions)
4,000 Miles (Pauline Productions)
The Skin of Our Teeth (Silverthorne Theater)
Cat On A Hot Tin Roof (Ashfield Theater)
Still Trying to Get It Right (Salient Productions)
August: Osage County (Tribe of Fools)
Offering It Up (Tribe of Fools)
Red State of Marriage (Pauline Productions)
Genesis (Circus Warehouse)
Our Town (Northampton Center for Arts)
Ghosts (Revisited) (Tribe of Fools)
Blind Dreamers (Serious Play!)
O Yes I Will (Majestic Theater)
Of Turlygods & Time: King Lear (Serious Play!)
Spring Awakening: A Sin of Omission (Looking Glass Theatre)

Intimacy Choreography:

University of Massachusetts Amherst
The Water Station, dir. Vishnu Barve
The Bacchae, dir. Judyie Al-Bilali

Colby College
Wendy and the Neckbeards, dir. Kevin R. Free

Asolo Repertory Theatre
The Cake, dir. Lavina Jadhwani
The Crucible, dir. Michael Donald Edwards

Portland Stage
Refuge Malja, dir. Kareem Fahmy

Monarch Pictures
Time To Go, dir. Rio Contrada (consultant)
Professional Service:
Real Live Theatre, 2014-present
Governing Company Member
Member of the producing, curriculum, and education committees
Taught the following classes and workshops:
Two Approaches to Scene-work: Objectives vs. the Psychological Gesture
Foundational Acting Techniques
The Art of the Director
Choreographing Intimacy
Cultivating Dynamic Presence
Actions and Objectives
Authentic Movement
Michael Chekhov Techniques

Pauline Productions, 2010-present
Associate Artist

Sarasota Contemporary Dance, 2020
Taught the Master Class in Acting, a workshop for theater-goers to deepen their understanding of theatrical process

Smith College, 2019
Taught The Art of Adaptation, a presentation for theater criticism students

New College of Florida, 2019
Taught The Director's Vision, a workshop with directing students

Asolo Repertory Theatre, 2019
Spoke about The Crucible and The Cake through an LGBT lens at OUT@AsoloRep

Serious Play! Theatre Ensemble, 2000-2011
Associate Artist
Board Member
Research Grants:
Bowdoin College Research Award for When the Mind's Free, 2020
Dragon's Egg Studio Space Grant for When the Mind's Free, 2019
Colby College Space Grant for Death Wings, 2017
Theater for the New City Production Grant for The Life and Death of Queen Margaret, 2017
Northampton Arts Council Grant for The Life and Death of Queen Margaret, 2016
Arts Angels Grant for The Life and Death of Queen Margaret, 2015
Dragon's Egg Studio Space Grant for Ghosts (Revisited), 2012
Arts Angels Grant for Blind Dreamers, 2012
Northampton Arts Council Grant for Of Turlygods & Time: The Tale of King Lear, 2011
Looking Glass Theatre Space Grant for Spring Awakening: A Sin of Omission, 2010
University of Mass. Arts Council Grant for Spring Awakening: A Sin of Omission, 2009