×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Shapiro: Helmer pulls off ‘Hat’ trick

Women's Impact Report 2011: Anna D. Shapiro

Broadway loves a winner and after Anna D. Shapiro’s bravura staging of Tracy Letts’ “August: Osage County” earned the Chicago-based stage director a Tony Award, she received a number of invitations to return to the Main Stem.

Stage directing remains a male-dominated profession, and a woman seemingly is never asked to direct a play as challenging as “August,” no less one as funny, ferocious and profanity-laden as the project that finally coaxed Shapiro back to New York, Stephen Adly Guirgis’ super-charged “Motherfucker With the Hat.”

To add to the challenge, co-star Chris Rock had never appeared in a play — any play — and the quality of his performance depended on Shapiro’s ability to win the comedian’s complete trust.

Things seemed to be going smoothly. And then New York Post theater columnist Michael Riedel struck, penning a devastating column declaring the play a major disaster thanks to its unprintable title, the lack of interest in a play about drug addicts and alcoholics and Rock’s failure as a box office draw.

“It was shocking, very, very shocking,” recalls Shapiro. “In Chicago, you’re not supposed to be criticized until you stop working. I probably stayed internally stunned longer than I should have. But I couldn’t show anyone how I felt.”

Digging in her heels, Shapiro had only one choice but to lead her troops to an unanticipated victory: mostly terrific reviews, the return of the play’s initial investment by the end of its limited engagement and six Tony nominations including a second for Shapiro’s directing.

While now inundated with offers, Shapiro has made only one commitment, agreeing to stage Tracy Letts’ adaptation of Chekhov’s “Three Sisters,” planned for June 2012 at her home base, Chicago’s Steppenwolf Theater.

It is more than likely that the play that does bring her back to Broadway is a play a woman is never asked to direct.

SNAPSHOT
Title: Theater director
Role model: A couple of girlfriends who are fighting their way through some rough waters not of their own making. Any mom who can hold their kids up out of that muck — those are my girls.
Career mantra: “Never put your sense of self-worth into the hands of swine.”
Leisure pursuits: “I have two-year-old twins (so) sleeping and getting to talk to my husband.”
Political passion: “I’m a pacifist. Deep.”

More Scene

  • Cara Delevingne attends The Trevor Project's

    Cara Delevingne Recalls Producers Saying That Being Queer Will Hurt Her Career

    Hollywood may be celebrating LGBTQ Pride Month with displays of the rainbow flag and lots of talk about supporting diversity and inclusion, but Cara Delevingne says there’s still work to be done. “Behind closed doors, we are still being told, as I have, by powerful Hollywood producers that we can’t make it if we’re queer,” [...]

  • Kiernan Shipka and Ross LynchMTV Movie

    MTV Movie & TV Awards: What You Didn't See on TV

    Many of the biggest stars in movies and television — including Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, Jada Pinkett Smith, Kiernan Shipka, Sandra Bullock, Tessa Thompson and Brie Larson — came together to present and receive honors at the 2019 MTV Movie & TV Awards, hosted by “Shazam!” star Zachary Levi. And while non-attendees are able to enjoy [...]

  • Dan Stevens

    'Legion' Star Dan Stevens Says His Character Would Fight Thanos, 'Wreak Havoc' in MCU

    Dan Stevens said his powerful, telepathic mutant Legion would do some serious damage if he ever crossed over from the eponymous FX series into the Marvel Cinematic Universe. “Legion would wreak havoc. He’d probably take on Thanos, let’s see that,” he told Variety on the red carpet at the premiere of the trippy, mind-bending superhero series [...]

  • Anthony Anderson LADF

    Why Anthony Anderson and Billie Jean King are Giving Back with the Dodgers Foundation

    Celebrities and athletes came together at the Dodgers Foundation Blue Diamond Gala to celebrate the team’s commitment to supporting youth and to catch a glimpse of the event’s headliner: Bruno Mars. Billie Jean King and Ilana Kloss were honored at the fifth annual event, which raised over $3 million for programs benefiting Los Angeles youth. [...]

  • Shia LaBeouf poses at the premiere

    Shia LaBeouf to Host Birthday Fundraiser for Slauson Rec. Theater Company

    Shia LaBeouf is celebrating his 33rd birthday by giving back. The actor, who turned 33 on June 11, will host a fundraising concert later this month for the Slauson Rec Theater Company, a 10-month-old free performing arts program he co-founded in downtown Los Angeles. The night will also include a preview of the Slauson Rec [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content