Governing Company Member, Real Live Theatre
Associate Artist, Pauline Productions
Toby Vera Bercovici is a director whose work utilizes a rigorous authenticity, playful relationship with the elements of time, and uniquely feminist aesthetic to help tell important stories. She places special emphasis on the ethical, psychological, and physiological manifestations of intimacy, and she has contributed her knowledge in this arena to several productions and films, serving as both intimacy choreographer and consultant. She also teaches workshops to professional theaters, university theater departments, and community groups.
She has created numerous dance-theater adaptations of classic texts, including The *Annotated* Taming: Or, Out of the Saddle, Into the Dirt, Spring Awakening: A Sin of Omission (reviewed in New England Theatre Journal), Of Turlygods & Time: The Tale of King Lear, and The Life and Death of Queen Margaret (co-created with Dan Morbyrne). Contact her for more information on how to produce these adaptations.
She has always been drawn to the classics, in part because of their beauty and complexity, in part because of what they teach us (however troubling) about the past, and in part because they are in the public domain and thus up for legal re-interpretation. She believes fully in the merits of adaptation; or, emendation; or, annotation. In the words of visual artist Titus Kaphar: “I paint and I sculpt, borrowing from the historical canon, and then altering the work in some way. I cut, crumple, shroud, shred, stitch, tar, twist, bind, erase, break, tear and turn the paintings and sculptures I create, reconfiguring them into works that nod to hidden narratives and begin to reveal unspoken truths about the nature of history.”
She believes it is our duty as theater makers to bring the fullness of ourselves and of our present moment to the stage, whether it be through contemporary writing, devised work, or a return to the classics, while also acknowledging the political and aesthetic history out of which this presence grows. Personally, she strives to weave strong feminist counter-narratives into the array of gorgeous classic texts written by and for men, and what emerges is work that illuminates rather than glorifies, and juxtaposes historical snapshots with examples of our current flawed but beautifully diverse present. She approaches the classics with daring, imagination, and political relevance.
New York credits include The Life and Death of Queen Margaret at Theater for the New City, Spring Awakening: A Sin of Omission at the Looking Glass Theatre, and the world premier of Julia Kaminsky's Genesis at the Circus Warehouse. She also assistant directed Belize, Imminence, and Hot Lunch Apostles for The Talking Band at La Mama E.T.C. and Old Comedy for Target Margin at Classic Stage.
She was a 2018-2019 Directing Fellow at Asolo Repertory Theater, where she assistant directed The Crucible, Sweat, and The Cake.
She has directed for multiple companies throughout Western Massachusetts including Real Live Theatre (with whom she is a governing member), Pauline Productions, Silverthorne Theater, Hampshire Shakespeare Company, and Serious Play! Theatre Ensemble.
She has taught theater at Colby College, Holyoke Community College, American International College, and the University of Massachusetts Amherst.
She holds a BA in Theater from Smith College and an MFA in Directing from the University of Massachusetts Amherst. She also has ongoing training at Shakespeare & Company and with the Michael Chekhov Association and Intimacy Directors International, as well as in Authentic Movement, Suzuki, and Viewpoints.
Above: Excerpts from June 2019 Residency for When the Mind’s Free, a contemporary adaptation rooted in King Lear
Asolo Repertory Directing Fellow, Sarasota FL, November-April
Teaching a “Choreographing Intimacy” workshop with the UMASS Theater Department, Amherst MA, April 26
Leading the When the Mind’s Free residency at the Dragon’s Egg, Ledyard CT, June 6-10
Attending the Michael Chekhov Association (MICHA) Director’s Track, Connecticut College, New London CT, June 16-22
Directing The *Annotated* Taming: Or, Out of the Saddle, Into the Dirt, produced by Hampshire Shakespeare Company at the Renaissance Center, Amherst MA, July 17-28
Co-leading a trip to the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, August 3-15
Teaching a “Choreographing Intimacy” workshop with Ellen Morbyrne and Real Live Theatre, North Star, Sunderland MA, August 17
Leading a workshop on “The Art of the Director,” New College, Sarasota FL, September 7
Guest lecturing in the Bowdoin College Department of Theater & Dance, September 23-October 2
Serving as intimacy choreographer for “The Bacchae,” UMASS Theater Department, November
Serving as intimacy choreographer for “Wendy and the Neckbeards,” Colby College, November
Directing “Spring Awakening",” The Drama Studio, Springfield MA, November 15-17
Leading the When the Mind’s Free residency (#2!) in Northampton MA, December 13-17
Teaching in the Department of Theater, Young Harris College, Young Harris, GA, January-May 2020
Working with Toby on Intimacy…
“As an actor with a 40-year professional career, I am far too leery of modern techniques and exercises. Sometimes I resist, sometimes I grit my teeth. In approaching my first experience with Intimacy work, working on Asolo Rep’s production of The Cake, I determined to adopt the latter as my methodology. In Toby Bercovici's kind and capable hands, my scene partner and I were led through a series of exercises, in privacy, to heighten and deepen our characters’ quiet familiarity. Those exercises not only facilitated our work in rehearsal creating a convenient bond between us but in my own case, continued to inform my work in preparation and performance for the play. The intimacy work we (Toby, my partner and I) did was unexpectedly valuable and in the final analysis, essential to our ability to function realistically as a couple. Beyond building a bond of comfort and respect for the actual intimate contact, the work also had a significant impact on our general and relationship work as well.”
- Paul Romero, Actor, Asolo Repertory Theater
“Working with Toby on expanding our intimacy vocabulary and chemistry played such an integral role in how I approached my relationships in Asolo Rep’s productions of The Crucible and The Cake. Her teachings added a level of depth and history to the characters that I don't think would have been found, had we not had the pleasure of working with her."
- Amanda Fallon Smith, Actor, Asolo Repertory Theater
“Toby Bercovici’s Intimacy Workshop was invaluable to our Department. It provided us a concrete, useful protocol for rehearsing and staging intimate scenes. It also was inspirational because it reminded us that thoughtfully and safely staged intimacy leads to richer and more truthful performances, and to more nuanced and textured art. Toby is a wonderful facilitator with a great feel for the room.”
- Harley Erdman, Professor of Dramaturgy and Graduate Program Director, UMASS Department of Theater
“"Toby Bercovici is a masterful facilitator. I thoroughly enjoyed the workshop she did with our department. It was organized extremely well and executed in an efficient but deeply caring manner. I left the workshop with what I feel are immensely useful tools for dealing with aspects of that intimacy whether it be a theater classroom or in theater production. In addition, I was made keenly aware of the importance of collaborating with someone as skilled as Toby when doing this kind of work."
- Gilbert McCauley, Professor of Acting and Directing, UMASS Department of Theater