About Us

Leslie Swackhamer

Leslie Swackhamer is delighted to return to the Alley after directing for the Alley All New workshop of Jennifer Haley's Sustainable Living, and the staged reading of Selina Fillinger's Cinched and Strapped. A passionate advocate of new work, and work by women, she is the Executive Director of the Susan Smith Blackburn Prize, the oldest and largest international prize specifically recognizing women playwrights. Currently based in Houston, she frequently directs for Stages Repertory Theatre, most recently NSFW by Lucy Kirkwood. Her production of Marie Antoinette garnered the Houston Press Best Director Award. Favorite Houston productions include My Mañana Comes, Rabbit Hole, In the Next Room or the vibrator play, and Amy's View. Theatres where she has directed include South Coast Rep, Madison Rep, Seattle Rep, The Empty Space, Florida Studio Theatre, Seattle Shakespeare, The Cherry Lane, ACT Theatre, Cleveland Play House, American Stage, Cleveland Public, Intiman Theatre, Brave New Works (Atlanta), and The Playwrights Center. She also founded the Women Playwright’s Festival in Seattle at A Contemporary Theatre and Hedgebrook. She has held artistic leadership positions at Cleveland Play House and ACT Theatre (Seattle) where she worked extensively on new play development, helming local playwriting initiatives as well as new works festivals. She has workshopped, directed or produced over 100 new works at theatre and opera companies across America. Opera companies where she has directed include the Washington National Opera (Kennedy Center), San Francisco Opera, Opera pa Skaret (Sweden), Vancouver Opera, Opera Carolina, Seattle Opera, Houston Grand Opera, Opera Omaha, Madison Opera, Dayton Opera, and Opera in the Heights. She is currently working with noted American composer Sheila Silver on an operatic adaptation of Khalid Hosseini's best-selling novel A Thousand Splendid Suns. She is also in development with HGO on a new opera about the rodeo and women barrel racers. Also an educator, Leslie has guest-directed and taught theatre history, stage movement, directing, acting, playwriting, and the business of theatre. University work includes Rice University, the University of Washington, University of Texas, Oklahoma City University, Cornish College of the Arts, USC, University of Houston, and Sam Houston State University. She holds an MFA in Directing from the University of Washington School of Drama and is a member of the professional unions AGMA and SDC. Next up: the world premiere of Selina Fillinger's Cinched and Strapped at Theatre Three in Dallas.