“Theater is a tool of world building.”
Leyla Levi is in the final year of her directing MFA at Yale School of Drama, with her thesis production scheduled to open in January 2023: a new play called Marys Seacole by Pulitzer prize winning playwright Jackie Sibblies Drury, about the global unequal distribution of care labor.
What have you been up to recently?
Last May, I closed a production of Romeo and Juliet. It has been an incredible gift to work with visionary artists and teachers like Liz Diamond, Yuri Kordonsky, Lileana Blain-Cruz, and most recently, the Russian director in exile, Dmitry Krymov.
How did your experience in theater at RC influence your decision to pursue your studies in drama?
My theater life started as an actor in Suna Kıraç Hall and in Bingham, working with Charlotte Şamlı and Murat Ersan. I studied architecture in college, then ran an educational arts program for many years, but my first directorial experiments all happened at RC. I remember acting in Feride Eralp’s play in my freshman year, writing and directing things with my friends, meeting Sarah Kane’s work in Ms. Şamlı’s modern drama class, acting in my senior year in an incredible 3-hander called Death and the Maiden by Ariel Dorfman. That is when I internalized that the theater is a tool of worldbuilding, prefigurative imagination (a beautiful idea from Robin Kelley’s book Freedom Dreams) and liberation. Doing theater is my way of saying that the personal is political.
Published January 2023