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Theater Spotlight: Eleanor Holdridge

Eleanor Holdridge, director of Theater J's "Something You Did" by Willy Holtzman. Photo courtesy of Eleanor Holdridge.

First in a series of interviews with the many theater professionals who call DC their artistic home.

Eleanor Holdridge had been freelancing as a director for twenty years. It can be a grueling profession, on the road sometimes for eight months at a time to make a living. She was ready for a home.

“Welcome to DC! Now, direct a play that’s political,” she jokes.

Having recently moved here to head the directing program at The Catholic University of America, Holdridge is out of the gate directing Theater J’s season opener, Something You Did. Playwright Willy Holtzman has updated the piece from its 2008 incarnation to reflect the current polarized political climate. Replacing the controversial Imagining Madoff with a play about 1960’s idealist turned imprisoned radical facing off against a neo-conservative media pundit prone to conspiracy theories may seem a bit out of the frying pan, but that kind of daring choice is what makes me admire Theater J.

With warm enthusiasm and infectious humor, Holdridge graciously shared a rehearsal coffee break with me to talk about her move to DC, her impressions of theater here, and what’s in store for audiences when Something You Did opens with previews beginning August 28.

As a Baltimore area native, Holdridge grew up coming to DC to see plays at Arena Stage. So perhaps it was inevitable that one day DC theater would call her back. Continue reading