BEST DIRECTOR Minneapolis 2007 - Wendy Knox
Frank Theatre queenpin Wendy Knox has been rightly lauded for bringing us works by Bertolt Brecht, Suzan-Lori Parks, and Sam Shepard in recent years—pieces that we surely wouldn't have seen otherwise. But in addition to her good taste in scripts, Knox has a directorial style that deserves praise. We've long searched for ways to describe the experience of seeing one of her shows. We usually settle on some variation of pedal to the metal. But if we often feel as though we're in a car with no brakes, we also sense that the lunatic behind the wheel happens to be an exceptionally good driver. Frank's staging of Venus, the story of an African woman made into a Victorian freak show, displayed Knox's capacity for getting a claw into your gut with raw, humorless work. Yet Frank's follow-up, Brecht's Mother Courage and Her Children, tackled wartime mercenary values with a sense of queasy and reckless humor. Knox's shows crackle and bristle with intellectualism, but also serve up a texture of real emotional danger. The final tribute to Knox's talent is her ability to attract distinctive actors—such as Shá Cage, Maria Asp, and Grant Richey—to that challenging aesthetic. Actors obviously trust her; audiences should wear their seat belts.