When StageQ opens its 2013-2014 season this September, it will have a new artistic director for the first time since 2005. Audrey Lauren Wax has taken the reins of the LGBT theater troupe from Tara Ayres, who held the position until April.
Wax will direct StageQ's season opener, a gender-queer adaptation of William Shakespeare's Much Ado About Nothing that opens Sept. 27. It's the first time the company has tackled one of the Bard's plays.
Ayres will continue to contribute to the company but plans to concentrate more on directing and acting. In a July 21 press release on StageQ's Facebook page, she noted that she is "pleased to be leaving StageQ in such capable hands" and that with Wax's experience and enthusiasm, "StageQ will continue to thrive and grow."
Wax received her undergraduate degree from Edgewood College and returned there to work as an instructor three years ago. Before her return to Madison, she earned an MFA at the University of Idaho. She also served as artistic director for the Morgue Theatre in Washington and Sixth Street Productions in Idaho.
In addition to overseeing theater companies, Wax has developed several advanced acting courses for Edgewood's theater program, including "Sexuality, Culture and the Performing Arts." LGBT artists from Madison, Milwaukee and Chicago visit the class to discuss how their sexuality shapes -- or doesn't shape -- their art.
Wax says she was shocked when she heard that Ayres was stepping down, but knew she was the right person to step in.
"The day they announced it, I turned in my application and CV," she says. "Since I came to Madison, I've been searching for a company where I believed wholeheartedly in their mission statement, and StageQ just happened to be that company."
Last summer, Wax's play Conceal and Carry: Queers Exposed debuted at Broom Street Theater. It wove together monologues written and performed by LGBTQ Narratives, a group of local writers who are also activists.
In her first year as StageQ's artistic director, Wax hopes to build stronger relationships within the Madison-area theater community, look for grants that could help increase show budgets, incorporate a wider range of LGBT voices into the company's productions, and bring in more playwrights to workshop and premiere their original plays.
"Everyone who works with a brand-new play gains a wealth of knowledge," she notes.
Wax stresses that StageQ promotes a type of dialogue that Madison desperately needs.
"It's a home for theater with a different perspective than what we're seeing in the other companies," she says. "We're able to take risks; we're going to do scripts that aren't as well known. Yet what we do with those scripts can set us apart from other companies."