Writing Down the Voices and Solo Performance Intensive May 2011 NYC


  • 2007 OBIE Recipient for Ensemble Performance
    in my play, Tale of 2Cities
  • City of Los Angeles Performing Artist Fellow, 2006-7
  • Winner of the 2006 inaugural Spalding Gray Award
  • Published:
    • What Ever A Living Novel,
      Faber/Farrar, Straus, and Giroux, 2003
    • Tale of 2Cities: An American Joyride,
      Semiotext(e), 2006
  • Recipient of Kennedy Award for
    New American Plays, 2001
  • National Endowment for the Arts
    Playwriting Fellow, 2001
  • All 8-acts of What Ever radio-play, hosted by Ira Glass,
    and broadcast on NPR stations in select cities.
    Also available on this web-site listen>

Heather has taught professional workshops for A.S.K. Theatre Projects in Los Angeles, Northeastern University in Boston, St. Edward's University in Austin and University of New Mexico in Albuquerque. She has conducted performances and lectures for students at Yale, SMU, Northwestern, UCLA and NYU. She wwas Master-Artist-in-Residence at the Atlantic Arts Center in 2009.

My teaching materials include:

  • extensive multi-media archives of my performance
    work 1980's-present and of
  • Cafe Bustelo's role in the New York underground
    scene in the 1980s and '90s
  • collected research of urban communities
    for Tale of 2Cities


Given the sweeping social range of my plays, ("A one-woman Dickens!" says Laurie Anderson) as a lecturer/ performer, I am able to appeal to an unusually wide range of disciplines. As a visiting artist I provide students in a variety of disciplines with a provocative vantage point from which to examine their field of study. In addition to classes which focus on creative writing, performance and theatre studies, I also lecture and perform for classes related to women's studies, gender studies, urban studies, anthropology, oral literature and social history.

As a theatre arts and creative writing teacher, I utilize 20 years of unique experience as a maverick writer-performer to demonstrate to writers, actors, and solo performers the potency of the method of "instant performance" in generating work of lasting value. The dirty secret is: all writers are actors, all actors are writers, and all solo performers know that.

In my workshops, I try to offer something more - and more unique - than a solo-artist's "how-to." I take actors and writers - both beginners and seasoned artists - through a unique process of generating material out of improvisation and automatic writing, using the methods I have developed over 20 years. Actors learn a series of techniques to deepen and enlarge on their texts using spontaneous in-class performance, and writers learn to locate the language they're seeking right on the tip of their tongues.

I utilize the formation of previous works, such as What Ever, as a touch stone and explore with writers, actors, solo artists and others the relationship between creating on the page and on the stage. I believe that it is crucial for actors to experience the authenticity of authorship and for writers of all kinds (not only dramatic writers) to literally bring their words to life by fleshing them out in front of an audience. Each of us has a vivid imagination: "Instant performance" enables us to free it.
For MORE on how I develop work in front of an audience see Timeout NY

" Event Name: Writing Down Your Voices with Heather Woodbury 5 out of 5 stars rating "Heather Woodbury's Brilliant Mind" Review posted by: Chale Nafus from Austin, TX USA, Sep 10, 2009

"I first saw Heather Woodbury when she did WHATEVER in Austin. I went back again and again to see all episodes of that astounding theatrical performance. I began to take people night after night. I swore that she actually changed her bone structure in face and body to convey the different characters. Ultimately it was totally believable that there were many people on the Vortex stage at one time. I have seen every new work she has brought to Austin and continue to be astounded by her creativity. In short, anyone who wants to learn more about writing, self-expression, acting and performance should run to her class. I swear it will be a life-changing moment for participants."

-Chale Nafus
Director of Programing
Austin Film Society
"I'd been a fan of Heather's for a long time, so it was a real honor for me to learn some of her tricks of the trade. I'm in the process of developing a one woman show for a space in SF and I know that much of what I learned will support me here. It's not every day that a mentor comes along who's capable of supporting such a strong creative environment. Take advantage if you can."

-Rachel Parker
Performer Screenwriter
Los Angeles
"I had the opportunity to collaborate with Heather on her most recent invention, "The Last Days of Desmond Nani Reese". I was left breathless not only by her ability to fabricate a narrative of great breadth and depth but her ability to then switch hats and approach the work with the innocence of the actor. If you are a writer and or performer, there is really nothing you CAN'T learn from the stunning Ms. Woodbury. Eat a good breakfast before you arrive, however, as you'll need your brains, your heart and your intuition ready for a workout."

-Abigail Deser
Los Angeles
"As a writer in Hollywood, I was fortunate to have taken a creation and performance class with Heather Woodbury. Her approach opened doors to my creativity that might have otherwise remained closed. I find myself referring to notes taken in her class often when working on a new project. I would recommend working with Heather to anyone who is open to getting the most out of their own creativity."

-Tom Sage
Los Angeles
"I am a writer NOT an actor, so when I enrolled in this workshop I felt more than a little trepidation about my adventure to be. Luckily, the experience was worth every minute I put into it. I gained so much from my plunge into performance propelled writing - from the paper free dive into physically expressed ideas, to acting them out in front of my fellow participants to following the ribbon I had spun out and finding that it clothed the very themes I had been carrying around in my heart without having yet found the means to express them. Heather said that I had achieved the breakthrough she hoped for each student - and I know that I certainly had had the one I needed! Afterwards I received a tape of our final performances. I will keep it forever, as trophy and proof of a wonderful moment of creation. My friends have all seen it and applaud my decision to participate in Heather's inspirational workshop. Well worth the $$."

-Barbara Jarvik
Los Angeles

"I can't say enough about how great this workshop is. I not only developed a new piece that I love to perform, I learned new ways of looking at performance and writing that inspire me continually. I strongly believe that every performer or writer, at any level, would get a lot out of working with Heather. It was a lot of fun, too."

-Antonio Sacre
Solo Performer
Los Angeles

"I had the good fortune to take Heather's workshop last May in Austin. It was a seminal experience for me as a performer and writer of 25 plus years. I've done my best work since, and have had access to myself as an artist in completely new, and refreshing ways. Surrendering to her cathartic techniques and processes gave me permission to express what i had no idea how to reach prior to studying with her. I can't recommend her workshop highly enough. WARNING: if you are not ready to make huge leaps as an artist do not attend!!"

-Sissy Siero
Writer Musician

"Hearing Heather could teach as well as she writes and performs is what inspired this workshop. I had seen all four 2.5 hour episodes of "WHATEVER" on FOUR different tours (that's forty hours of Heather) & still felt equally moved and graced by all 100 colorful, poignant characters. Some characters breathe life into obscure cultural heroes; all of them bridge cultural and generational gaps with a compassion, clarity,and humor rarely attempted, much less convincingly portrayed. Heathers characters are so believable and lovable, that I actually miss them. She uses no costumes or props, yet so captures my imagination, that I can still SEE all of them up there on stage with her. At times she'd have 8 characters going in a frenzied crowd scene, yet never missed a beat in their subtle nuances. Equally impressive was how each episode was complete in itself,yet the characters end up crossing paths in divine,comicly karmic, even Shakespearean ways. A weekend musing with Heather? RICH!"

-Pauline Rubben
Austin InterPlay teacher

"Heather Woodbury's What Ever is a wonderful piece for my students to study, not only in the context of an advanced course on making solo performance but in the context of becoming theatre artists of all kinds. First, What Ever's extraordinary scope encourages students to think big, to be ambitious not for themselves as performers but for the art of theatre and what it can accomplish. Second, What Ever encourages them to pay more attention to the voices around them, to use these voices as a jumping off point for their own imaginings, for staging impossible and necessary encounters. As a visiting artist, Heather Woodbury would be an invaluable resource to students and faculty both within the Department of Theatre and Dance and across the entire College of Arts and Letters. Within the department, she has much to teach us about processes for making theatre in unconventional ways and, specifically, in conversation with community members and community groups. She could lead workshops on topics ranging from scripting to character and performance development. She also has a broad and ambitious vision for what theatre made in these unconventional ways can accomplish in terms of national and international dialogue aimed at social change. Across the College of Arts and Letters, exposure to her existing and evolving work can help to forward a conversation already in progress about how faculty and students can work together across disciplines to make art that matters. Her work exemplifies our university's public affairs mission."

-Dr. Jodi Kanter
Assistant Professor of Performance Studies
Department of Theatre and Dance
Southwest Missouri State University


"I was first introduced to the script for What Ever in a Performance Theory class at Georgia State University. My friends and I, part of our own student-created theatre company,Twinhead Theatre, had been looking for a project that we could get passionate about. We wanted to take the ideas of the art of performance that we had been learning about and really apply them to what we saw as our mission: to do something radically different in the Atlanta community that spoke to our times, our frustrations, our feelings, and our concerns as a new generation of artists. A few chapters into What Ever, it became clear, for me, that this sprawling, epic portrait of 1990s America was the perfect fit. Many of us were growing up right when the characters of What Ever are and the play felt like the closest thing to a "new" voice for our generation that I had read... something radically different that spoke to our times, our frustrations, our feelings, and our concerns as a new generation of artists.

I have never had an experience that challenged me to go deeper. I have never had to explore my body and voice so many times for one show. I think What Ever has powerful potential as a teaching tool, to connect poetic language with themes that are relatable to students.

The Mega-supreme delight came when we performed the entire play for a whole Sunday with the final two hours a standing-room-only crowd. To hear the audience literally cheer us on as we switched from character to character and to see them laughing and connecting things in their heads as the story progressed was, alone, worth the seven months (of rehearsal)."

-James Yates
22-year old acting student, Georgia State University, Atlanta


"I've never learned so much from one show. I've seen the dialects spelled out in books before (like Irvine Welsh and Zora Neale Hurston), but I haven't read anything that had several dialects spelled out, and Shakespearean verse right next to the stoned 16-year-old slang. As to my memorization now, I have to say I've gotten more confident about it. I keep thinking to myself, I memorized all that shit for What Ever, this is going to be easy. And it is easier, because I know I can hold all that in my head."

-Diana Brown
20 year-old acting student, Georgia State University, Atlanta.

Twinhead Theatre Company student ensemble production of What Ever, Atlanta
see more pictures in the scrapbook

Download complete resume in Word format (right click on this link and select "save link as")

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