Monica Payne is an American stage director and the founder of Theatre Lumina, a company devoted to cross-cultural collaboration and international exchange. She recently directed the U.S. premiere of the award-winning Polish play Trash Story by Magda Fertacz for the graduate acting program at the UCLA School of Theater, Film and Television (UCLA TFT). In preparation for the project, she traveled to Krakow and Warsaw to attend the Boska Komedia Festival and to meet with Ms. Fertacz in person. Other projects include Ploughman from Bohemia for Theatre Lumina in a site-specific production; Racine's Phedre, for Point Park University; Hecuba and Huck Finn for the Pittsburgh Playhouse; her own adaptation of Gabriel Garcia Marquez's The Incredible and Sad Tale of Innocent Erendira and her Heartless Grandmother; Euripides' Elektra; William Inge's Natural Affection; andSam Shepard's Savage Love. In 2012, she assisted on the award-winning production of Miss Saigon, directed by Brian Kite, at La Mirada Theatre for the Performing Arts, which later toured China.
A former actress, Payne worked for many years in Chicago with various companies, including Steppenwolf Theatre Company, the Artistic Home, the Hypocrites, the Journeymen, and Famous Door, among others. She later graduated with an M.F.A. in directing from UCLA TFT. She is the recipient of the James Pendleton Foundation Prize and a member of the 2008 Lincoln Center Director's Lab in New York City, as well as the 2012 Director's Lab West in Los Angeles.
In addition to teaching at UCLA TFT, Payne has taught at Carnegie Mellon University and served as the head of the graduate acting program at Point Park University in Pittsburgh, Penn. She has been a Meisner teacher for 16 years and has taught for the School at Steppenwolf, the Artistic Home and the Audition Studio, as well as at her own studio in Los Angeles. She has taught with Steppenwolf West in various intensive programs, including those in Monterey, Long Beach, and most recently, an international immersion in Toronto. Her students have gone on to work on Broadway, in regional theater, television and film.