2018 Graduate of Columbia University School of the Arts, NY
NJ Agwuna is a freelance theatre and film director hailing from central Maryland. Performing from a young age, NJ began studying theatre at REP Stage Summer Institute, where she not only learned the art of acting, but was also inspired to pursue the adventurous life of directing.
Theatre’s ability to shift and grow with society truly excites her. She believes that theatre shows us our history, illuminating things we have forgotten. She is drawn to the metamorphosis of theatre, whether it’s retelling historical pieces through a new lens or questioning and investigating our present world through myth and spectacle; we create memories for the audience. Theatre has been a crucial part of her life. It has been with her since the very beginning, starting with the classics. It has carried her through and shaped her views of the world, teaching her how to understand herself and the people around her. It has been a gift, and she wants the opportunity to share that gift with a new audiences. Joe Mantello once said, “reading a new play is the equivalent of falling in love.” She believes that directing a piece of art whether it be a play, musical,or opera; getting up on its feet in front of an audience is like introducing someone you love to your family. It’s like saying “this is the person I am in love with,” and hoping that they see and discover why.
NJ is inspired by work that challenges the norm, giving life to new voices while honouring the old. Since moving to New York, she has been blessed to be able to work with many different artists. NJ believes that it is important to notice how the form is shifting and growing, and how she as an artist can grow within it. She has started moving more towards new works and reimagining ways to create thought provoking pieces. Working with companies such as Third Rail Productions and Punch Drunk has given her new insight into how to affect audiences in a way that makes them ask tough questions, connect to characters in new ways, and grow, shift and change their idea of what theatre is and their experience with it.
She approaches theatre with curiosity and wonder, believing that theatre can not only heal us, but show us all the possibilities of the world that we inhabit. She has worked on a national and international scale continuing to explore classic text, developing new plays, devising, and investigating new ways to explore trauma and mental illness through theatre.