The director Lee Sunday Evans was still finding her footing in the world of New York theater when, in the early 2010s, she directed teenagers in “Caucasian Chalk Circle” and “Cyrano de Bergerac” as part of a young artists program run by the downtown company Waterwell.
“Those were plays that no one in the professional world was going to give me a chance to direct,” she said during a phone interview Wednesday, explaining how the experience brought motivation. “It was a really invigorating thing as a young artist.”
Now Ms. Evans is becoming a leader of the company that helped nurture her. Waterwell announced Wednesday that it has named Ms. Evans as its new artistic director, following the departure earlier this year of Tom Ridgely, one of the company’s two founders.
Ms. Evans’s work as a director this year has included Clare Barron’s “Dance Nation” at Playwrights Horizons and David Greenspan’s “The Things That Were There” at the Bushwick Starr. In 2015, she directed Kate Benson’s “A Beautiful Day in November on the Banks of the Greatest of the Great Lakes,” which won an Obie Award that year.
As Waterwell’s artistic director, Ms. Evans will join the company’s leadership, which includes its other founder, the actor Arian Moayed. Last year, the company’s professional shows included a production of “Hamlet” set in early-20th-century Persia. Ms. Evans says she would like Waterwell to explore more performances in nontraditional venues, and to respond quickly to what she referred to as “issues that relate to the tumultuous unfolding world.” She also wants to bring in new audiences that aren’t already coming to shows.
While the job will involve directing, it will also have responsibilities more in line with the role of a producer, which attracted Ms. Evans. “There’s a hunger that I’ve had to be able to initiate projects,” she said.
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