Saki Kawamura is an interdisciplinary artist and award-winning director based in NYC. She got her start at just two years old dancing, but it wasn’t until she spent more time observing directors while onstage as an actor that she realized directing appealed to her too! Now, her work includes Disney’s Broadway Hits, Serenity and Delight by Momo Akashi, The Tree by Barbara Anderson, and directing The Man who Turned into a Stick as well as Assistant DirectingCLUEat Paper Mill Playhouse. Now, she serves as the Associate Director at George Street Playhouse for Joy (The New Musical)! Kawamura also recently became the “Associate Artistic Director of Ren Gyo Soh, a butoh theatre company in NYC” where she plans to highlight stories about immigrants, and is collaborating with Mudita, a non-profit interdisciplinary show. Her advice to young artists? “Always remember to listen to your heart. Keep creating and don’t forget to learn!” Read on to learn more about Saki Kawamura and what makes her an Amazing Asian in the Arts!
Name: Saki Kawamura
Hometown: Nara, Japan
Current City: New York City
Current project: Just started serving the company of Joy (The New Musical) at George Street Playhouse as Assistant Director.
As a director, I’ve just finished the reading production of Serenity and Delight by Momo Akashi and will work on The Tree by Barbara Anderson, premiering in Black Box Theatre Festival at Gallery Player next January.
What are some of your favorite credits/projects:
I enjoyed bringing a Japanese play to the NYC audience when I directed The Man who Turned into a Stick (ASDS Repertory theatre). Also, I loved being in the production of A Jolly Holiday: Disney’s Broadway Hits and CLUE as Assistant Director at Paper Mill Playhouse!
Any advice for young people getting into the arts?
Always remember to listen to your heart. Keep creating and don’t forget to learn!
How did you get your start?
I started dancing when I was two years old, and since then I was on stage for a lot of shows. When I was on stage as an actor, my mind always went “Oh I would direct it like this,” “I would show this moment like this,” so I noticed myself being interested in directing.
When I was in undergrad, I never thought this would be my career. But during my job hunting, I couldn’t stop thinking about this dream of learning theatre and directing, so decided to turn down all the offers and come here for my grad school.
Do you have any favorite moments in your career that you'd like to share?
I’ll never forget one of my opening nights… as soon as the play ended, we had a standing ovation and that was the best feeling as a director. I always remember this moment through my hard times.
What have you found is the biggest challenge in your career?
Being confident is the biggest challenge for me, especially as a director. I know that I needed a lot of experience to be confident, so that’s something that I still try to gain every single day.
What are some interesting facts about yourself?
My head skin is so stretchable.
Do you have any organizations or non profits you work with you’d like to highlight?
Yes! I just became Associate Artistic Director of Ren Gyo Soh, a butoh theatre company in NYC. I am planning to have 2 more reading productions about immigrant stories!
Who do you admire? Do you have any mentors?
I’ve got so many amazing women mentors and people whom I admire in NY. I feel so grateful for them.
Yokko, who is my mentor, teacher and now a college, has had such a huge impact on me. I wasn’t sure who I was as an artist three years ago, but because of her guide, I was able to find my voice and pursue my way as an artist. I am inspired by the way she sees things and brings them to her work.
Casey Hushion, who is the most amazing, funniest, and kindest director you’ve ever met. I’ve been assisting her for a year now, but she always reminds me of the importance of being thoughtful in many kinds of ways. The way she interacts with people is so generous and that reflects how she approaches the show too. I’ve seen that people are comfortable with working in the room she creates. She never teaches me directly, but I am learning from her literally every single day, not only as an artist but also as a human being.
Do you have any other “special skills?”
I see my stretchable head skin as my special skill. Sadly that’s the only special thing I got.
Do you have any side projects you’d like to highlight?
Yes! I am collaborating with a non-profit organization Mudita, and creating an interdisciplinary show with dancers, composers, musicians and visual artists. It’s gonna be so fun!
If you could go back in time, what would you tell your younger self?
Don’t be too afraid of what people think. You can just be you!
What skills did you find to be the most helpful in your career?
Being honest and working hard. Such a simple thing, but I think that’s everything.
What is your greatest accomplishment?
My biggest and greatest accomplishment in my life is when I was the most popular person on a street in Brooklyn. I had so many kids’ fans. I think it was Halloween, 3 years ago… because I was wearing a sumo wrestler inflatable costume.
What do you love most about what you do?
Having a deep conversation about creations with my collaborators!
What helped you most to rebound from what you considered your biggest failure or mistake in your career?
It’s not a mistake but when I came here, I was the least experienced person in the room at my grad school. So I just had to work harder than everybody else and I was not afraid of any challenge. Thinking that I have nothing to lose has really helped me to get where I am now.
To find out more about Saki Kawamura, please visit her at:
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