Olivia Munk, Artistic Director

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I was born and raised in Queens, NYC. My first taste of the Great White Way came at age 2, when my parents took me to see Barney LIVE! at Radio City Music Hall. From that moment onwards, I knew I wanted to be a part of the spectacle with the big purple dinosaur.

Embodying my first theatrical hero, as my sister looks on in admiration.

Embodying my first theatrical hero, as my sister looks on in admiration.

While I have yet to engage with said dinosaurs on a professional level, I still have been able to have some great theatrical experiences. When I was 10 I followed my best friend to the youth theatre TADA! in downtown Manhattan (accompanied and supported by our parents, of course), where together we joined a year-long theatre group dedicated to creating and performing original works of musical theatre.

When I became old enough to travel into Manhattan by myself, I joined PXP, the Theater Development Fund’s magazine written by and for students. PXP gave me the chance to see shows—fringe, off-Broadway, and Broadway itself—entirely for free, and published my reviews in their print magazine and online blog.

In high school, I loved to dance, despite my chronic clumsiness. I studied at the Martha Graham School in midtown, and credit my three years of training there as a big influence on the physical work I enjoy exploring in my stage direction. Graham’s Young Artist Program gave me the incredible opportunities to perform at the Joyce Theater and Lincoln Center Rose Theater. I love dance companies like Batsheva, Alvin Ailey, Paul Taylor, and of course, Graham, for the incredible storytelling they master through physicality.

Guess which one is me!

Guess which one is me!

In my senior year of high school, a friend and I co-founded Bronx Science’s chapter of SING, a popular program in NYC in which two grades partner up to write a musical, and it “competes” against the musical created by the other two grades. I co-wrote and directed the junior/senior class’ inaugural production, for which we raised over $1,500 through donations and program ad sales. Bronx Science’s SING is still running today.

After high school, I attended Harvard University in Cambridge, Massachusetts from 2012-2016, where I studied English and Mind/Brain/Behavior. Harvard gave me the opportunity to create and spearhead theatrical productions from scratch. It was there that I was supported to direct six productions:

  • Is He Dead? by Mark Twain, adapted by David Ives, in a theatre that had a previous life as a swimming pool

  • In Other Words, a new musical about the difficulties of saying what you’re supposed to say and what you mean to say, written and composed by two brilliant classmates

  • Hansel and Gretel, the Engelbert Humperdinck opera sung in English

  • The Importance of Being Earnest, set in modern-day Williamsburg/the Hamptons, accompanied by a five-piece string quartet playing an original score

  • H.M.S. Pinafore, the Harvard-Radcliffe Gilbert & Sullivan Society’s 60th anniversary production

  • and Soundbytes, a student-written song cycle for which I co-directed and produced, mentored by renowned composer Brian Lowdermilk (of Kerrigan-Lowdermilk)

During my time at Harvard, I also apprenticed at the Williamstown Theatre Festival, and was an intern for director Diane Paulus on Waitress at the American Repertory Theatre. (My brief foray into film happened in the summers in between, in which I truly created my magnum opus: a short documentary about a dog lake in Berlin.) Between shows, I enjoyed writing for campus publications such as the Harvard Arts Blog (which taught me invaluable lessons about arts journalism), Harvard MagazineThe Harvard Advocate, and The Harvard Crimson.

After graduating, I spent the summer giving tours of Harvard (ask me about the history of Widener Library, I’ve got all the facts) before heading off to the UK for a Master’s degree in English at the University of Oxford. My undergraduate thesis was a creative nonfiction account of T.S. Eliot’s three-decade working relationship with E. Martin Browne, a prolific theatrical director, and I considered my work on Eliot’s plays at Oxford. It was through a Harvard friend living in the UK that I met co-founder Jessica, another American transplant. Besides introducing me to my fantastic company members, Oxford gave me the opportunity to co-direct a new musical about mental health, STOPat the Edinburgh Fringe Festival.

I’m based in southwest London, where I’m enjoying living with a house full of creative people, baking vegan cookies, dog spotting, binging on Crazy Ex Girlfriend and How To Get Away With Murder, and participating in all the great theatre that London has to offer. I’m always looking for new collaborations, projects, partners, shows to see and blogs to write—feel free to reach out at hello@partofthemain.com. Bonus points if you can introduce me to your dog, or fulfill my 21-year dream of working with a purple dinosaur.