Between Trains Juanita Rockwell

Portfolio Old

Here are some images from selected performance works I have written and/or directed, starting with a couple of current projects:

Backwards from Winter

I wrote the libretto for composer Douglas Knehans’ monodrama for soprano, electric cello, video and computer. The premiere was May 25, 2018 at Symphony Space in New York City, produced by The Center for Contemporary Opera, directed by Jennifer Williams and featuring soprano Anke Briegel and Jeffrey Krieger on electric cello. A second production was featured the following month as part of Dark MOFO, a festival of music and art in Hobart, Tasmania, directed by Konstantin Koukias and featuring soprano Judith Weusten and Antonis Pratsinakis on electric cello.

In this journey through grief, a woman traces her memory from the icy numb of winter after losing her beloved, back to his death in an autumn storm, through the heat of their passion in summer, to the heart-opening birth of their love in spring.

photo by Robert Wang

Little Patch of Ground

I wrote the words and music for this play with songs, and Tom Shade and I co-directed a staged reading at Baltimore’s Single Carrot Theater in 2016, as part of my Rubys Artist Project Grant.

Set in the reimagined aftermath of Shakespeare’s Hamlet where an overburdened  planet is rejecting the buried dead, a gravedigger and her brother meet up with a newly re-surfaced Ophelia and Laertes, creating new implications for the question whether “to be or not to be.”

The following are some pieces I both wrote and directed:

photo by Igleu Glickman

The World is Round

A chamber opera for 5 singers and 14-piece orchestra, composed by James Sellars, I adapted the libretto from Gertrude Stein’s gorgeous children’s book. While serving as Artistic Director of Hartford, CT’s Company One Theater, I directed the premiere production in 1993 at The Wadsworth Athenaeum’s historic Avery Theatre, where Stein and Virgil Thompson’s Four Saints in Three Acts premiered, six decades earlier.

The World is Round traces the journey of a girl named Rose (is a rose is a rose) who is as full of questions as her cousin Willie is full of answers.


A Cave in the Sky

A play with songs, puppets and video, I wrote the play and lyrics and directed the production at The Culture Project in NYC as part of the Artists at St. Ann’s Puppetlab in 2001. Daniel Nelson led the puppet design and Chas Marsh created the video and music.

The play follows Alexandra, a 19th century French explorateuse meditating in a cave in the Himalayas, and Zöe, a 21st century computer programmer in her darkened “coding cave” atop a city skyscraper.

Between Trains 0014
photo by Jay Herzog

Between Trains

A play with songs, with music by Chas Marsh, I wrote the play and lyrics, and directed a production in 2014 at Towson University. The production allowed me to create a final rewrite of the script, scheduled for publication by Blue Moon Plays in January 2018.

In Between Trains, a woman wakes up in a train station between Maybe and Nowhere – everyone she meets is waiting for something or going somewhere, but she’s just looking for a way out.

photo by Bill Cain

The professional premiere of Between Trains was directed by Lisa Jo Epstein for Philadelphia’s Gas & Electric Arts in 2010.

The following works were commissioned by specific companies:


The Circle

I wrote this audioplay for banished? productions site-specific guided alternative art audio-walk as part of The Capital Fringe, 2012 & 2014, directed by Carmen Wong.

A woman takes us back in time from our future to our past, as we listen in on the musings of a couple of restless teens hanging out in DC’s Dupont Circle neighborhood of the 1970s.


Pathways Project/Waterwalk: Surface and Depth, Lunar Pantoum        

Nancy Romita and Moving Company commissioned the gamelan opera Waterwalk: Surface and Depth for the 2001 inauguration of a stone labyrinth built for healing on the grounds of Hopkins Bayview Hospital. I wrote the libretto, Robert Macht composed the music, and Nancy Romita directed the work for soprano, gamelan orchestra, narrator and 5 dancers.

Lunar Pantoum was a dance piece created by Nancy Romita and Moving Company later that year, set to a poem I wrote about the Atomic Bomb and the Cherry Hill, NJ, water tower.


Immortal: The Gilgamesh Variations

I wrote Tablet One: Stones and Stories for this multi-author adaptation of the eleven tablets that are our only modern access to the ancient Sumerian epic of Gilgamesh. The Forge’s production of Immortal was directed by Gabriel Shanks, and premiered at The Bushwick Starr in 2011.

photo by Interrobang Theatre


I wrote Broken as part of an evening of plays commissioned by Baltimore’s Interrobang Theatre, including the words and music for the song “Sharing a Table,” that closes the play. Broken was directed by Katie Hileman and premiered in 2015 at The Strand, in Baltimore.

Her world and her family are moving targets of misperception for a woman in her eighties who has had a stroke. But the right recipe might hold all the answers.

And here are images from a few of the many plays I’ve directed, over the years:

photo by Stan Barouh

Frank McGuinness’ Someone Who’ll Watch Over Me at Everyman Theatre. The production was named one of Baltimore City Paper’s Top Ten Productions of 2006.

photo by Ian Armstrong

The premiere production of Jacqueline K. Lawton’s Mad Breed at DC’s Active Cultures in 2008.

24 7 365

The premiere production of Jennifer Nelson’s 24, 7, 365 at Theatre of the First Amendment, Atlas Theatre, Washington DC, 2011.


Lisa d’Amour’s Red Death at the University of Maryland Baltimore County, 2008.

photo by Igleu Glickman

The premiere production of Charles Borkhuis’ Sunspots at Company One Theater, in 1993.


The professional premiere of Suzan-Lori Parks’ Betting on the Dust Commander at Company One, in 1990.

2 thoughts on “Portfolio Old”

  1. John Vengrouskie

    Reconstructing my life and portfolio from decades of storage, and here i find a pair of script copies (mine and apparently one from an actor who couldn;t complete the role…!) from a production of SAFE SEX that it seems you directed for the Kennedy Center Lab, maybe late 80’s early 90’s, that I was sound designer for. Would you have any recollection of notes on that production?

    1. That’s so interesting, John. I did, indeed, direct a production of Safe Sex in the late 80s at Source Theatre in DC. I don’t remember directing it at the Kennedy Center lab, although it’s not impossible that we did some development there. But as I recall, David Crandall was our sound designer, with Eric Schaeffer on set design. So perhaps your production was separate from the one at Source? Your name definitely rings some bells, though. Eric’s set was a giant assemblage of bronzed “memories” that the actors climbed on. Does that sound familiar? I feel you on the attempt to reconstruct life and portfolio from decades of storage, however. Analog is another universe, eh?

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