HAWKS TO WATCH: AMY ANDERS CORCORAN, THEATRE DIRECTOR
Why Amy’s a Hawk to Watch
Imagine criss-crossing the Atlantic throughout the year to work on hit musicals and cutting-edge creative works gracing some of the biggest stages in London, New York and beyond. That’s the life of Amy Anders Corcoran, a freelance theatre director, choreographer, script doctor, educator, and proud Jayhawk.
Amy’s journey to her current career was not a straight path. While she has always been involved in theatre, developing a love for dance and acting as a kid growing up in Topeka, Kansas, she chose to major in Psychology at the University of Kansas – like many students Amy didn’t have just one interest. But she kept up her passion for performance while at KU, and after graduation and a brief stint as a performer, Amy completed an MFA in directing at Penn State. Since then she has worked on shows performed at prestigious venues including The Guthrie, Asolo Rep, Goodspeed Musicals, Marriot Marquis on Broadway, and American Conservatory Theatre. Amy’s worked on many hit shows, including as an associate director for Disney’s ‘Freaky Friday’ and more recently for ‘Escape to Margaritaville,’ on Broadway.
A constant advocate of new works, Amy loves helping develop shows that try something novel. This September, she’ll be directing ‘Unexpected Joy’ in London as part of her work with Aria Entertainment, a company that develops and presents new and ground-breaking productions on both sides of the Atlantic. This passion for helping talent at the early stages of their careers has led Amy to return to KU to support productions here, including as the director and choreographer of ‘Little Women’ in 2016.
Amy loves working with creative people – collaboration is her favorite word. The key to developing these professional relationships is, in her words, the “invaluable” Psychology degree she received from the College of Liberal Arts & Sciences at the University of Kansas.
Tell us in a sentence or two what you do for a living:
I am a freelance direction (and sometimes choreographer) who mostly specializes in new works. I also produce work for a British producer, Katy Lipson, and her company Aria Entertainment as the U.S. Creative Consultant.
What do you feel is your biggest achievement so far?
Working on Broadway and off-Broadway while having a toddler.
What’s your lowest career moment and how did you pick yourself up and move on?
It was definitely when I was still a performer, 23 years old–fired from a cruise ship job before I even made it to the boat. I was let go because I was too fat. That’s the harshness of this business.
Where do you hope to be in 10 years?
In 10 years hopefully I will still be creating new works with innovative writers telling new stories.
What do you know now that you wish you could tell your 18-year- old self?
Life is not a competition. What is yours is going to come to you, but you are going to have to work and sweat and suffer for your art. But it will be yours if you stay truthful to the stories you should be telling.
What’s your best career pro-tip?
Make all the connections you can and say yes as often as you can early (life will get in the way later). I said yes a lot to a lot of projects and opportunities at the beginning of my directing career and they have all served me by setting up relationships and connections.
How did your KU degree prepare you for your current job?
My BA in Psychology helps me every single day in the theatre. I use my PFA in Directing (not from KU) often, but not as much. The Psych degree is INVALUABLE.
What’s your best KU memory?
Camping out for basketball seats and going to England with the choir after my junior year. That began my love affair with London, which continues to this day.
What do you do after you’ve clocked out?
I read scripts or reply to emails. There is no clocking out for a freelance director.
What is a fun fact about you that surprises people?
I married my high school sweetheart (also a Jayhawk).
Be like Amy. Here’s more information on studying Psychology at the University of Kansas.
Hawks to Watch are disrupters. They’re poised for greatness, inspiring their colleagues and excelling in their professions. Basically, they’re killing it. Having recently graduated, they are just starting to leave their mark and we can’t wait to see how their story unfolds. These Jayhawks span all industries including business, non-profits, tech, healthcare, media, law and the arts.