Laura Connors Hull is the producing director of the Creative Cauldron in Falls Church, Virginia. She is currently co-directing with Ellen Selby the Creative Cauldron’s Learning Theater Ensemble production of “The Snow Queen,” featuring original music by Matt Conner.
Laura has spent four decades working professionally in the theater, first as an actress and director, then as an administrator and executive, and finally coming full circle to the role of Creative Cauldron Producing Director. Her strength as both an administrator and an artist has helped her shape Creative Cauldron over the past eleven years into a unique and vibrant organization responsive to the needs of its community. Creating effective artistic collaborations has been a key to this success, and many gifted freelance artists work in Creative Cauldron’s artistic circle. Laura demonstrates a passionate commitment for bringing the arts to underserved audiences; work that has been rewarded by expanded funding and community support. Laura holds a B.A. in Communication Arts with a minor in vocal performance from Ursuline College. She spent nine seasons performing, directing and teaching drama to children and adults, at the Ashtabula Arts Center in northeastern Ohio, where she served as head of the Drama Department. Under N.E.A. and Ohio Arts Council funded programs, she teamed with language arts teachers in Ohio public schools utilizing exercises in creative dramatics to enhance the language arts curriculum. She served as Artistic Director for the center’s G.B. Repertory Theater and directed or performed in over 40 productions. After moving to Washington, Laura worked in theater administration for 14 years and served as the Director of Communications at Arena Stage where she was responsible for a $6 million dollar earned income budget and a staff of 35. In 2002, she returned to her passion for teaching the arts, gathered a coalition of like-minded artists, and launched Creative Cauldron. In 2009, working with civic and community leaders in the City of Falls Church, Laura secured a permanent home for Creative Cauldron. Creative Cauldron now manages and programs ArtSpace Falls Church, a 3,000 square foot flexible performance and gallery space. Year round programming includes performances, classes and visual art exhibits. For her efforts Laura received the 2011 Carroll V Shreve Award for meritorious community service, from the Falls Church Chamber of Commerce. Under her leadership, Creative Cauldron received the 2012 Dominion Arts Stars “Rising Star” Award. Laura continues to direct and teach and has appeared in Creative Cauldron productions as the Wicked Witch of the West in “The Wizard of Oz,” as Mrs Murphy in “Madeline’s Christmas,” and as the Gypsy Mama in “Madeline and the Gypsies.”
For more information about “The Snow Queen,” click here.
What can a theatregoer expect to see when they attend “The Snow Queen?”
Our production of “The Snow Queen” is an original adaptation of the Hans Christian Andersen tale featuring eight original songs created by Matt Conner and Stephen Gregory Smith. The script and dialogue were actually inspired by the improvisational work of our Learning Theater Students, and it is really very funny at times — something that most people don’t associate with adaptations of “The Snow Queen.” There’s plenty of magic though and visually the costumes and scenic elements designed by Margie Jervis are really delightful. There’s really something for every generation to enjoy about this production whether you’re 4 or 94.
What is it like directing the young performers at the Learning Theater Ensemble?
They are pretty amazing. We ask a great deal of them and treat them as professionals during our rehearsal and performance process. I think what I enjoy the most about directing young performers is seeing them grow from performance to performance. They keep challenging themselves to do better. They continue to receive notes throughout the 15 performance run and by the last performance they absolutely shine.
What do the young performers enjoy and learn most from their experience at the LTE?
I think the young people who participate in our Learning Theater program appreciate the challenge that we offer them and the fact that we believe in their ability to create and perform a professional show. We value their creative ideas and incorporate them into our script, so they really feel like playwrights as well as performers. They, of course, enjoy the camaraderie. Many of them have made new friends from different schools and different areas, and they renew these friendships with each show.
How long have you been directing? How has your direction evolved since directing your first show?
I first began directing over 40 years ago, right out of college in Northeastern Ohio. I had my own theater company there working with adult actors. Even though I was also an actor, directing provided so many exciting challenges, and a way to really craft an intricate story for an audience both visually and aurally. I had a 15 year hiatus from directing and teaching when I first moved to Washington and worked on the administrative side of theater. When I launched Creative Cauldron it was bliss getting back in the rehearsal room–especially when I began directing young people. It demands that you are also a teacher and mentor. It’s very rewarding to know you have helped someone blossom and find their gift. You know it is something they will carry with them the rest of their lives.
Why did you decide to go into theatre?
It’s funny. I always loved acting and performing in grade school and high school, but when I went to college I was convinced that I was going to be a social worker. I wanted to change the world…to do something that would change lives for the better. It took me awhile to figure out that I could also do this in the theater and maybe have an even deeper impact.