Leslie Swackhamer

Leslie Swackhamer is a stage director of opera and theatre. A passionate advocate of new work, and work by women, she is the Executive Director of the Susan Smith Blackburn Prize, the oldest and largest international prize specifically recognizing women playwrights. She also founded the Women Playwright's Festival in Seattle at A Contemporary Theatre and Hedgebrook. Currently based in Houston, she was recently awarded the Houston Press 2015 "Best Director Award" for her production of David Adjmi's MARIE ANTOINETTE for Stages Repertory Theatre. Opera companies where she has directed include the San Francisco Opera, Vancouver Opera, Opera Carolina, Seattle Opera, Houston Grand Opera, Opera Omaha, Madison Opera, Dayton Opera, and Opera in the Heights, She has held artistic leadership positions at The Cleveland Play House and ACT Theatre (Seattle). While at A Contemporary Theatre and the Cleveland Play House, she worked extensively on new play development, helming local playwriting initiatives as well as new works festivals. During this period, she held a TCG Observership to study new play development in theatres across the U.S. She has workshopped, directed or produced over 100 new works at theatre and opera companies across America. She collaborated with composer Jack Perla and playwright Eugenie Chan on the development of the new opera, COURTSIDE, as part of Houston Grand Opera's East+West Project. Theatres where she has directed include Southcoast Rep, Madison Rep, Seattle Rep, The Empty Space, Florida Studio Theatre, Seattle Shakespeare, Stages Repertory Theatre, The Cherry Lane, ACT Theatre, The Cleveland Play House, American Stage, Cleveland Public, Intiman Theatre, Brave New Works (Atlanta), and The Playwrights Center. Also an educator, Ms. Swackhamer has taught theatre at the University of Washington, University of Texas, Rice University, University of Houston and Sam Houston State University. She holds an MFA in Directing from the University of Washington School of Drama and is a member of the professional unions AGMA and SDC.