Monica Payne is a stage director and the founder of Theatre Lumina, a company devoted to cross-cultural collaboration and international exchange. She is currently directing a production of Our Country’s Good for the undergraduate Theater Program at the UCLA School of Theater, Film and Television. In Summer 2016, she co-directed a workshop production of Camino Real by Tennessee Williams for CSU Summer Arts/Steppenwolf Classes West in Monterey, Calif. She spent much of the previous year working on Trash Story, an award-winning Polish play by Magda Fertacz. She directed full productions in both New York (Kulture+ Productions) and Los Angeles (UCLA TFT), as well as a staged reading for the International Voices Project/Trap Door Theatre in Chicago. Other projects include a critically acclaimed production of Toni Morrison’s The Bluest Eye for the Pittsburgh Playhouse; Ploughman from Bohemia for Theatre Lumina in a site-specific Los Angeles production; Racine’s Phedre for Point Park University; Euripides’ Hecuba and Mark Twain’s Huck Finn, adapted by Eric Coble, for the Pittsburgh Playhouse; her own adaptation of The Incredible and Sad Tale of Innocent Erendira and her Heartless Grandmother by Gabriel Garcia Marquez; Euripides’ Elektra; William Inge’s Natural Affection; and Sam Shepard’s Savage Love. She also assisted Georges Bigot (formerly of Theatre du Soleil) on a production of Macbeth and assisted Department of Theater Chair Brian Kite on the La Mirada Center for the Performing Arts’ award-winning production of Miss Saigon, which subsequently toured in 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 Theater Company and The Famous Door Theatre Company, among others. She is a member of the 2008 Lincoln Center Director’s Lab in New York, as well as the 2012 Director’s Lab West in Los Angeles.
Payne has taught acting and directing at Carnegie Mellon University, and served as the head of graduate acting at Pittsburgh’s Point Park University. She has been a Meisner technique instructor for 16 years and has taught for School at Steppenwolf, The Artistic Home and The Audition Studio, as well as her own studio in Los Angeles. In addition to the CSU Summer Arts, she has taught with Steppenwolf Classes West in various intensive programs, including those in Toronto and Long Beach.
She earned her M.F.A. in directing from the UCLA School of Theater, Film and Television. Her research areas include literary adaptations, devised work and Polish theater.