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“Superb” - Newsweek

“Authoritative; resourceful” - Wall Street Journal

“Lucid; compelling” - Washington Post

“Profound” - Opera News

“Wistful; subdued” - Houston Chronicle

“Seamless; fast-paced; fresh” - Salt Lake Tribune

“Mesmerizing” - Rochester Democrat & Chronicle

“Stirring; wrenching; a resonating triumph” - Denver Post

“Vivacious; brilliant; lucid; impassioned” - St. Louis Post-Dispatch

“Unleashed ferocity; contemporary resonance” - Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel

Director’s Statement


I believe a director is a storyteller, conduit from the playwright to the audience.  When I enter the rehearsal process I try to know more about the play than anyone else; by the time I slip out the back door on opening night, I should know less than those who will carry it forward.  For each production, I strive to provide a clear and specific vision and to promote a rehearsal environment of rigor, safety, humor and ease.

I’ve directed Shakespeare, musicals, revues, new plays and classics in all sorts of venues with resources ranging from minimal to lavish.  I’ve worked with large casts and small, with accomplished professionals and artists in training.  No matter the particulars, I ask the same questions: “What’s the story? What is the most compelling way we can tell it?”  Ultimately, I want productions I direct to proclaim “Playwright!” “Audience!” - not scream “Director! Director!”

Along the way, I intend for everyone to have a challenging, transformative experience from which we all derive deep and lasting satisfaction.

I’m eager to talk with you about my work in person, by phone, or via email: paulmasonbarnes@gmail.com

Recent/Current Projects:


Our Town, Southern Oregon University Department of Performing Arts/Theatre Arts

Macbeth, Hilberry Theatre

Twelfth Night, Great River Shakespeare Festival

Irving Berlin’s White Christmas, Syracuse Stage

Romeo and Juliet, University of Nevada, Las Vegas

The Two Gentlemen of Verona, Great River Shakespeare Festival

Lady Windermere's Fan, Webster University Conservatory of Theatre Arts

The Comedy of Errors, Repertory Theatre of St. Louis

Annie, Pioneer Theatre Company

Amadeus, Geva Theatre Center; Repertory Theatre of St. Louis

Noises Off, Fulton Theatre

Macbeth, Repertory Theatre of St. Louis

The Miracle Worker, Syracuse Stage

Background photo: Jim Poulos, Amadeus, Repertory Theatre of St. Louis (Photo:  Jerry Naunheim, Jr.)


Splash Page slider photos:

Welcome slider: Jacques Roy; Chris Sheard, Andrew Carlson; David Kortemeier; Tarah Flanagan; Bobby Steggert; Jim Poulos, Elizabeth Stanley; Timothy D. Stickney


Cycle One: Shakespeare - Timothy D. Stickney, Macbeth, Repertory Theatre of St. Louis; Musicals - Tally Sessions, Tim Falter, Irving Berlin's White Christmas, Pioneer Theatre Company; Classics - Lena Hurt, David Brian Alley, Major Barbara, Clarence Brown Theatre; New Work - David Vining, Rusty Ferracane, Staci Robbins, Alyson Maloney, Maren MacLaren, Circle Mirror Transformation, Actors Theatre of Phoenix


Cycle Two: Shakespeare - Laura Coover, Romeo and Juliet, Great River Shakespeare Festival; Musicals - Kraig Swartz, Mark Light-Orr, Jeremy Stolle, Disney's Beauty and the Beast, Pioneer Theatre Company; Classics - Andrew Stroud, Tarah Flanagan, Christopher Gerson, Saint Joan, Repertory Theatre of St. Louis; New Work - Bobby Steggert, Shakespeare's R & J, Repertory Theatre of St. Louis


Cycle Three: Shakespeare - Christopher Gerson, A Midsummer Night's Dream, Pioneer Theatre Company; Musicals - Zakiya Young, Irving Berlin's White Christmas, Syracuse Stage; Classics - Michael Fitzpatrick, Robert Rutland, Jim Poulos, Amadeus, Geva Theatre; New Work - Joe Hickey, Timothy McCracken, Stones in His Pockets, Repertory Theatre of St. Louis


Cycle Four: Shakespeare - Christopher Gerson, Twelfth Night, Great River Shakespeare Festival; Musicals - Michael Moreno, David Kortemeier, Man of La Mancha, Clarence Brown Theatre; Classics - Jacqueline Baum, Anna O'Donoghue, The Miracle Worker, Syracuse Stage; New Work - Arthur Hanket, Tom Story, Gross Indecency: The Three Trials of Oscar Wilde, Missouri Repertory Theatre


Cycle Five: Shakespeare - Vanecia J, John Maltese, Romeo and Juliet, Nevada Conservatory Theatre at UNLV; Musicals - Suzanne Grodner, Dirk Lumbard, Annie, Pioneer Theatre Company; Classics - Chris Hutchinson, Jennifer LaPorte, John Feltch, To Kill A Mockingbird, The Alley Theatre; New Work - Giulia Pagano, Glen Pannell, James Edmondson, Copenhagen, Indiana Repertory Theatre


Cycle Six: Shakespeare - Catherine Stork, Jonathan Epstein, Anne Herring, King Lear, Orlando Shakespeare Festival; Musicals - Katy Wolfe Zahn, Man of La Mancha, Clarence Brown Theatre; Classics - Mic Matarrese, Heidi Marie Ferren, Tartuffe, PTTP, University of Delaware; New Work - Jeff Schaetzke, The Daly News, Great River Shakespeare Festival


Cycle Seven: Shakespeare - Tom Story, King Henry IV, Part One, Folger Theatre; Musicals - Mikey, Sami Staltman, Annie, Pioneer Theatre Company; Classics - Sarah Cline, Lady Windermere's Fan, Webster University Conservatory of Theatre Arts; New Work - Brian Vaughn, A Skull in Connemarra, Milwaukee Repertory Theatre


Cycle Eight: Shakespeare - Kate Fonville, Andrew Carlson, King Henry IV, Part One, Great River Shakespeare Festival; Musicals - Peter Riopelle, Little Shop of Horrors, Utah Shakespeare Festival; Classics - Ruby Hangar, Hay Fever, California State University, Fullerton; New Work - C. Michael Wright, Jacque Troy, Duet for One, Milwaukee Chamber Theatre



photo: Kathy Christenson

About Paul


I’m bi. . . coastal.

Connecticut childhood; California adolescence; Oregon adulthood.


And I’m “that guy who drives” (as Ben Barnes put it one morning when we happened to sit next to each other in the café at the Plaza Hotel in Milwaukee).  It’s in my blood; not to be denied.


I grew up in a small town close enough to New York City to experience its glories and opportunities with the fearlessness of a kid who didn’t know any better. My family and my friends’ families enjoyed Carnegie Hall concerts and Broadway shows, but we came home to a town still rural enough that locking the door was never a necessity.


I studied piano, took ballroom dance lessons, went ice skating and sledding in the winter, swam and chased fireflies in the summer, and first appeared on stage as a flower – really! -- in my second grade class’s production of The Nutcracker at Evangeline M. Post Elementary School.  But life really began to change in the third or fourth grade when I got to go back stage and shake Amahl’s hand after attending a local theater’s production of Amahl and the Night Visitors.


A few years later, transplanted to the other side of the country, I saw my high school theater department’s production of You Can’t Take It With You on the same weekend I attended Gypsy, performed by a semi-professional theater company in Palo Alto. That was it.  Hooked.  Drama elective the next school year, roles in my first-ever school plays, my maiden voyage as playwright-director (“The Orphans Christmas,” performed in my garage by an unsuspecting group of kids who lived on the block). Few detours ever since.


I started directing almost as soon as I began acting; it just took some time to realize that it was behind rather than in front of the table where I felt most at home.  I’ve taken directing classes, but it’s been in the observation and in the doing that I’ve acquired whatever craft I bring to the room.  If I’m an artist -- well, I can only thank natural instinct, DNA, whatever gifts with which I have been endowed, and my love of a good story – along with the tempering that a life not without its ups and downs has provided.


Dick Cavett once asked Hal Prince how you become a director. Prince replied:

“You announce to the world that you’re a director, and then you get someone to hire you.”  Or words to that effect.  I’ve been lucky that people have hired me, and I’ve been fortunate to have great teachers and role models to emulate:

David Buck, Tom McKenzie, William Ball (and his entire San Francisco ACT company), Jerry Turner, Pat Patton, Peggy Rubin, Jim Edmondson. . .  and I’ve been fortunate to have been able to practice my craft pretty steadily.  Although I have a theatre degree – and studied directing as an undergraduate at California State University at Fullerton -- my training has been in the practice: as a high school drama teacher in Stockton, California, as Associate Artistic Director/Conservatory Director at PCPA Theaterfest, as Producing Director of the Great River Shakespeare Festival, and as a free-lancer traversing the country, blessed with a diverse, mostly non-stop array of assignments.


I’m not done yet.  As we all know, we never really arrive – we just keep starting over, possibly until we keel over.  And if we’re lucky, we get to keep growing.  Long may it wave.