Producing Artistic Director, PlayMakers Repertory Company

email: vbenesch@email.unc.edu


As a director, producer, actor and teacher Vivienne Benesch has had the great fortune to collaborate with exceptional theater artists of many generations on all sides of the table. The 2017 recipient of the Zelda Fichandler Award given by the Stage Directors and Choreographers Foundation, Vivienne is currently the Producing Artistic Director of PlayMakers Repertory Company in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. At PlayMakers, she has directed acclaimed productions of Brecht’s Life of Galileo, Mike Wiley and Laurelyn Dossett’s Leaving Eden (world premiere), Molly Smith Metzler’s The May Queen, Daniel Beaty’s Mr. Joy, Deborah Salem Smith’s Love Alone, John Logan’s RED, Sarah Ruhl’s In The Next Room and Libby Appel’s adaptation of Three Sisters. Other recent directing credits include Love’s Labor’s Lost for the Folger Theatre, The Heidi Chronicles for Trinity Repertory Company and the world premiere of Noah Haidle’s Birthday Candles for Detroit Public Theatre–  which she will direct again on Broadway for the Roundabout Theatre  in the spring of 2020.

From 2005 to 2016 Vivienne was the Artistic Director of the renowned Chautauqua Theater Company and Conservatory in western NY, presiding over the company’s transformation into one of the best summer theatres and most competitive summer training programs in the country. At Chautauqua she directed over twenty productions including the world premieres of Zayd Dohrn’s The Profane, Molly Smith Metzler’s The May Queen, Much Ado About Nothing, Measure for Measure, A Soldier’s Tale, Skin of Our Teeth and developmental workshops of Noah Haidle’s Birthday Candles, Michael Golamco’s Build, Kate Fodor’s Rx, Zayd Dohrn’s Sick, Anna Ziegler’s An Incident and Jonathan Walker’s New BurlingtonIn 2014, she proudly conceived and directed the inaugural InterArts Collaboration for the Chautauqua Institution, The Romeo and Juliet Project, featuring eighty-five performers from the Chautauqua dance, opera, theater and music programs alongside the Chautauqua Symphony Orchestra. Her Chautauqua production of Amadeus was remounted both with the Buffalo Philharmonic and with the Virginia Symphony Orchestra for the Virginia Arts Festival.

Vivienne has also directed for Shakespeare Theatre of New Jersey Antigone and Richard III (Star Ledger, Top Ten). She has directed extensively with the Juilliard Drama Division where work includes Stop Kiss, The Merchant of Venice, King Lear, Measure for Measure, Arms and the Man, A Month In The Country, The Seagull and Getting Out.

As an actress, Ms. Benesch has worked on and Off-Broadway, in film and television and at many of the country’s most celebrated theaters. She received an OBIE Award for her performance in Lee Blessing’s Going to St. Ives and has had the honor of working on stage with Gene Wilder, Maggie Smith, Al Pacino and Blythe Danner among many others. In New York, her Broadway credits include: After the Fall and Deep Blue Sea (Roundabout), Salome, and The Heiress; Off-Broadway: Benefactors (Keen Co.) Belle Epoque (Lincoln Center); Vienna: Lusthaus (New York Theatre Workshop); Pericles, All’s Well That Ends Well (NYSF/Public Theater); Troilus & Cressida (Theatre for a New Audience); Ancient History (Primary Stages); and work with Classic Stage Company, MCC, Signature and The New Group. Regional work includes leading roles at The Guthrie Theater, Hartford Stage, Alley Theatre, A.C.T., The Shakespeare Theatre, McCarter, Long Wharf, Westport Country Playhouse and four seasons at the Shakespeare Theatre of New Jersey. Chautauqua acting appearances include Fifty Ways, Three Sisters, Arcadia, Reckless, 100 Saints You Should Know, Iphigenia and Other Daughters and Waiting for the Parade. 

Film & TV credits include Teeth, American Splendor, Tenderness, Corn, “Damages,” “The Good Wife,” “Paradise” (a pilot for Showtime),”Six Feet Under,” “Sex and the City,” “The Education of Max Bickford,” “The Division” and multiple episodes of “Law & Order.”

She holds a BA from Brown University and an MFA from NYU’s Graduate Acting Program where she had the great fortune to study under Zelda Fichandler and Ron Van Lieu.  She has served as a visiting faculty member at NYU, Juilliard, Trinity-Brown and UNC Chapel Hill’s Professional Actor Training Program.  For five years Vivienne served as chair of the theater panel for the National Foundation for Advancement in the Arts (now YoungArts).