But while Knox can be as unstinting and acerbic as the shows she directs, she's also warm, open, and thoughtful when discussing the possibilities of theater for expanding audiences' expectations of art and life. She is the engine that drives Frank, but she's at her most sunny, almost giddy, when talking about the community of performers and technicians who have come with her on her journey (during the Eclipsed rehearsal, she takes a moment to lavish a love bomb on actress Shá Cage, who clearly reciprocates). And speaking of Sedaris's play, she accentuates its sense of compassion and connection.
"In that piece, Sedaris makes these outsider observations—but he doesn't do it to necessarily put people down," Knox observes. "He's kind of delighted by the absurdities, and he knows about doing it with some sort of love in your heart."
A warm and fuzzy from a director who loves to outrage, and who doesn't back off from speaking her mind about the price she's paid for her uncompromising vision: It seems Wendy Knox is a tangle of contradictions (just like the rest of us). She's also one of the most purposeful, relentless, and consistently surprising artists in town. Ultimately, though, it's clear she's not inclined to beg your pardon.
Eclipsed plays at the Playwrights' Center through October 10. For reservations call 612.724.3760.