Laurie Woolery
Director and Citizen Artist
New York, NY
2020 USA Fellow

This award was generously supported by the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation.

Laurie Woolery is a theater director, playwright, and citizen artist. As a first-generation Latinx immigrant, Woolery works with regional theaters and communities to create theater and build sustainable art practices. She has developed and directed new works with populations ranging from incarcerated women to residents of a small Kansas town devastated by a tornado. She creates site-specific theater in locations such as a working sawmill in Eureka, CA, parking lots, prisons, and the banks of the Los Angeles River. She has worked at The Public Theater, Oregon Shakespeare Festival, Yale Repertory, Trinity Repertory, Cornerstone Theater Company, South Coast Repertory, and Los Angeles Philharmonic among others. She has directed world premieres of plays by Tanya Saracho, Mary Kathryn Nagle, Charise Castro Smith, Marisela Trevino Orta, Aditi Kapil, and more.

Currently, she is the director of Public Works, an initiative at The Public Theater that seeks to engage the people of New York by making them creators and not just spectators. Working with partner organizations in all five boroughs, Public Works invites communities to join in the creation of ambitious works of participatory theater. In 2017, with collaborator Shaina Taub, she created a new musical adaptation of As You Like It at the Delacorte Theater featuring two hundred New Yorkers. That production topped the New York Times’ Best Theater in 2017 list.

She is the former associate artistic director of Cornerstone Theater Company and Conservatory Director at South Coast Repertory. Woolery is a founding member of The Sol Project in New York.

Portrait photo by Tammy Shell.

  • Artwork by Laurie Woolery
    The River Bride, 2016. Play by Marisela Trevino Orta, directed by Laurie Woolery. Oregon Shakespeare Festival, Ashland, Oregon. Image created by Mark Holthusen.
  • Artwork by Laurie Woolery
    El Huracán, 2018. Play by Charise Castro Smith Directed by Laurie Woolery. Yale Repertory Theatre in collaboration with The Sol Project, New Haven, CT. Photo by Joan Marcus.
  • Artwork by Laurie Woolery
    As You Like It, 2017. Adapted by Shaina Taub and Laurie Woolery. The Public Theater, Delacorte Theater, New York, New York. Photo by Joan Marcus.
  • Artwork by Laurie Woolery
    Imogen Says Nothing, 2017. Play by Aditi Brennan Kapil, directed by Laurie Woolery/ Yale Repertory Theatre, New Haven, CT. Photo by Joan Marcus.
Artwork by Laurie Woolery Artwork by Laurie Woolery Artwork by Laurie Woolery Artwork by Laurie Woolery