Portfolio

tokyo fish story

by Kimber Lee, directed by Kirsten Brandt, TheatreWorks, Silicon Valley

Scenic Design by Wilson Chin, Costume Design by Alina Bokovikova, Lighting Design by Dawn Chiang, Sound Design by Jeff Mockus.  photos by Kevin Berne

THE CAST:  Francis Jue, James Seol, Linden Tailor, Arthur Keng and Nicole Javier

PRESS:

…with organic ease under Kirsten Brandt’s graceful direction in the regional premiere … -San Francisco Chronicle

… the visual memories of Kimber Lee’s tokyo fish story as produced in its Northern California premiere by TheatreWorks Silicon Valley may well last a lifetime… As artfully directed by Kirsten Brandt, silence often plays as big a part as spoken dialogue in this production. Understanding the rising and ebbing waves of motions and movements of a sushi kitchen becomes an essential part of comprehending the play itself… Kirsten Brandt, this cast, and the TheatreWorks team have painted a tokyo fish story picture that will stay embedded in memory for a long time.  – Talkin’ Broadway

My Mañana Comes

by Elizabeth Irwin, directed by Kirsten Brandt, Marin Theatre Company

Scenic design by Sean Fanning, costume design by Brandin Baron, lighting design by David Lee Cuthbert,  and sound by Theodore JH Hulsker

Featuring Eric Avilés, Caleb Cabrera, Carlos Jose Gonzalez Morales and Shaun Patrick Tubbs

PRESS:

… a tonic eye-opener… the action, smoothly choreographed by director Kirsten Brandt… -San Francisco Chronicle

Director Kirsten Brandt keeps the energy high and the action crisp… “My Mañana Comes” makes the viewer feel viscerally how hard it can be for hard-working people to get by and how easily it can all get taken away. – Marin IJ

brilliant,…eye-opening and entirely devastating… In a near balletic production at Marin Theater Company, My Mañana Comes follows four hard-working busboys at an upscale restaurant in New York City…director Kirsten Brandt keeps things hopping as the quartet of actors bus dishes, prep plates of food, slice fruit and vegetables (using real knives) and rush in and out of swinging doors with a grace and energy that would be impressive even if they weren’t also giving deep, fleshed-out and fully engaging performances.  – North Bay Bohemian

 

Macbeth

by William Shakespeare, directed by Kirsten Brandt, Santa Cruz Shakespeare

Scenic design by Nina Ball, costume design by B. Modern, lighting design by Kurt Landisman, music and sound by Rodolfo Ortega

PRESS:

Brandt is an exciting director. Her production of Merry Wives of Windsor in the same venue a year ago was a revelation because—surprise!—it focused on the wives and not Falstaff. It is not fair to suggest that her production of Macbeth likewise shifts focus to the women. What it does do is re-contextualize both the women and the men so that we can see the story without quite so much sexist baggage. That is a great gift.   – Shakespeare’s Tribe

Gutsy…this is a clear and urgent retelling of the grim fairy tale that plays with notions of gender…. bold and innovative – San Jose Mercury News

Forceful interpretation…exceptional acting…With such a treacherous storyline and so many characters, director Kirsten Brandt keeps the action moving quickly, and the forceful, spirited music (at times akin to the musical score of a Hollywood blockbuster film) adds immensely to what is happening on stage. – Santa Cruz Sentinel

 

 

Romeo and Juliet

by William Shakespeare, directed by Kirsten Brandt, Arizona Theatre Company

Scenic, lighting and projection/media design by David Lee Cuthbert, costumes by Kish Finnegan, original music by Michael Roth, Stage Management by Glenn Bruner

PRESS:

“Brilliant” – Broadway World

“An entertaining and cleverly re-imagined presentation of one of the mosy well-know plays in English Literature.”  – Tucson Weekly

“This production captivates!…Ge thee to the theater!..  It is directed with a sense of style and passion by Kirsten Brandt, is packed with surprising humor, lots of lust, and projections that quickly allow scenes to change swiftly and smoothly.”  – Arizona Daily Star

 

 

The Merry Wives of Windsor

by William Shakespeare, directed by Kirsten Brandt, Santa Cruz Shakespeare

scenic design by Eric Barker, Costumes by B. Modern, Lighting by Kent Dorsy, sound and original music by Jeff Mockus

PRESS:

“Rarely is there a time when all the elements of the theater universe align so perfectly as in fledgling Santa Cruz Shakespeare’s vibrant production of William Shakespeare’s “Merry Wives of Windsor…”  –Santa Cruz Sentinel

“…and in the hands of Santa Cruz Shakespeare, under director Kirsten Brandt, the play that was good enough for Queen Elizabeth I (who attended the play’s premiere on April 23, 1597) continues to deliver, having left opening night’s crowd limp with laughter. Let’s just say it’s a hit.”  – Good Times 

 

 

ZOOT SUIT 

by Luis Valdez,  directed by Kirsten Brandt, San Diego Repertory Theatre

Choreography by Javier Velasco, Music Direction by Bill Doyle, Sets, lights and media by David Lee Cuthbert, Costumes by Mary Larson, sound By Kevin Anthenill

PRESS: 

Kirsten Brandt was the first woman to ever direct Luis Valdez’’s 1979 play about the Zoot Suit Riots of the 1940s in Los Angeles, and she nailed it. – “THE BEST PLAY OF SAN DIEGO 2012” – San Diego City Beat

“Zoot Suit” has a lot to say, and the story is told with great zest and creativity by director Kirsten Brandt  – North County Times

Kirsten Brandt directs this sprawling, colorful, busy and captivating production with a sure hand – no easy task, and she must feel at times like a traffic cop, coordinating 36 actors and a boffo band of nine on a multilevel set where energetic dancing (wonderfully choreographed by Javier Velasco) breaks out often. –  San Diego Gay & Lesbian Times

Director and San Diego returnee Kirsten Brandt… manages to rein in the ambitious, sometimes wayward carnival of cops, courtrooms, fantasy sequences and dance breaks, and make the narrative flow. –  San Diego Union-Tribune

 

A Doll's House

By Henrik Ibsen’s translated and adapted by Anne-Charlotte Hanes Harvey and adapted and directed by Kirsten Brandt. 

Set by Sean Fanning, Costumes by Alina Bokovikova, Lighting by David Lee Cuthbert, Sound by Paul Peterson. Photos by Henry DiRocco (unless otherwise noted)

PRESS:

Effectively staged in the round, “A Doll’s House” has lost none of its gripping power. Much credit is due to an accessible and fluid new adaptation of Ibsen’s script by Brandt and Ibsen scholar Anne-Charlotte Hanes Harvey that uses contemporary language and American vernacular to uncover the subtle irony and humor in the play… In “A Doll’s House,” no one is what they seem, so the task Brandt handles with restraint and nuance is keeping each actor from tipping his or her hand too soon… Like Ibsen’s characters, it’s easy to get swept away by this well-directed tale.  – San Diego Union Tribune

Brandt’s direction is solid. She never allowed her principal actors to remain as one-dimensional characters; she provided direction that not only extended their emotional behaviors but also made them real, complex and believable. – Gay San Diego

Ibsen’s eye opening look into the way women were thought of in his world is personified by guest artistic director Kirsten Brandt, a San Diego favorite who brings this home in The Globe’s two and a half hour long production: carefully, subtly and methodically… With top-notch acting from the entire crew, this 1879 drama hit some pretty exposed nerves especially with the battle over women’s rights/treatment looming on the horizon. – Examiner.com

 

 

The Tragical History of Doctor Faustus

by Christopher Marlowe, adapted and directed by Kirsten Brandt

San Jose Repertory Theatre

Scenic, lighting and media design by David Lee Cuthbert, costume design by Cathleen Edwards, sound design by Rick Lombardo, puppets by Gina Hayes.  staged managed by Deirdre Holland

featuring:  Rachel Harker, Lyndsy Kail, Mark Anderson Phillips, Halsey Varady

PRESS:

Director Kirsten Brandt’s sprawling, inventive adaptation of the Christopher Marlowe classic…  it’s a lively, often captivating and provocative wrestle with a famously difficult play…. That’s largely because of the imaginative, stripped-down stagings by Brandt and her intrepid designers. It’s also due to the fully invested performances of Mark Anderson Phillips, in the title role, and Lyndsy KailRachel Harker and Halsey Varady as everyone else in the play’s world and underworld – San Francisco Chronicle

… director Kirsten Brandt has succeeded in making this classic play into a sprawling inventive presentation, using awesome projections, fantastic lighting effects, and overhead views of mystical sand creations all on a bare stage… Kirsten Brandt has made this barebones and steam punk-tech production stimulating, sparkling, and even fascinating…The director is doing this play with just four actors, one man and three women, playing an assortment of characters. The whole production has a Wagnerian effect on how the actors, set designer, costume designer and light and video designers coexist.  – Talking Broadway

 … a strange but beautiful, disturbing yet fascinating, dark and mysterious production.  [IT] is different, uncomfortable and thought provoking.  As far as I’m concerned, it is everything that theatre should be… – San Jose Metblogs

Next Fall

byGeoffrey Nauffts, Directed by Kirsten Brandt, San Jose Repertory Theatre

Scenic design by Annie Smart, costumes by Cathleen Edwards, lighting by Dawn Chaing,  Sound By Steve Schoenbeck.  Staring:  Danny Scheie, Adam Shonkwiler, James Carpenter, Rachel Harker, Lindsay Gates, and Ryan Tasker.  Photos by Kevin Berne

PRESS:

Bay Area Critic’s Circle nomination for Best Direction.

… a full roster of terrific performances makes it both funny and very touching in director Kirsten Brandt’s finely honed production. – SF Gate

Etched with nuance by a first-rate ensemble, these characters eventually shake off their stereotypical qualities and force us to explore the painful reality of how relationships come to define who we are. Sensitively staged by Kirsten Brandt, “Next Fall” truly pulls us in during its poignant second act when the characters must face the tall shadows of mortality. – San Jose Mercury News

The sharp writing of Geoffrey Nauffts and the extraordinary pacing from director Kirsten Brandt on a magnificent set designed by Annie Smart beautifully shapes the play itself. Brandt’s direction is able to exploit both of the main issues of the play with gentle and forceful fluidity. – Bay Area Plays

The Thinning Veil

Written and Directed by Kirsten Brandt; Produced by Ted Warburton

Featuring Patty Gallagher as Clytemnestra

Media Design by Greg Towle, Scene Design by Erik laDue, Costume Design by Brooke Jennings, Lighting Design by Andrew Grabowski and Brian Quiggle, Sound Design by Brandon Yu

Clytemnestra grieves for her daughter Iphegenia.  Electra grieves for her father Agamemnon and plans to avenge his death with the help of her brother.  Meanwhile, Iphigenia is confronted by the truth about her death while Agamemnon still tries to control his family from beyond the grave.  Based on the myths surrounding the House of Atreus, The Thinning Veil is a visually stunning drama about the damage family can inflict upon themselves and others.  The production takes place simultaneously in two venues on campus, The DARC Theatre and the Experimental Space, connected telematically, via the Internet.

The Tempest

by William Shakespeare, directed by Kirsten Brandt   Shakespeare Santa Cruz 

Choreography by Patty Gallagher. Scenic Design by Jed Ike. Costume Design byBrandon Baron. Lighting Design by David Lee Cuthbert. original music by John Zeretke.    Photo: Steve DiBartolomeo

PRESS:

Shakespeare’s The Tempest is a rich and magical play, overflowing with mythopoetic elements. The current production in Shakespeare Santa Cruz’s outdoor festival glen is an elegant and highly enjoyable experience that brings great clarity and comedy to this often complex and multilayered story… Themes of freedom, forgiveness and redemption mitigate his [Prospero’s] bitterness, and director Kirsten Brandt handles the final resolution of the play with exceptional depth and compassion . –The Metro

There is less razzle-dazzle, but more humanity in Kirsten Brandt’s soulful and engaging 2007 production. She allows plenty of room for broad comedy and playful spectacle. But she also understands that the crux of the play is the complex pas-de-troix between the magician Prospero, his “monstrous” and abused slave, Caliban, and his beloved (but still enslaved) spirit Ariel; the trio becomes the heart of her production….. yet is the tender gesture Brandt devises by which Prospero and Caliban appear to forgive each other at last as they part. It’s a telling moment of reconciliation that underscores the humanism in this thoughtful, fresh and imaginative production. – Good Times

The Big Meal

By Dan LeFranc, directed by Kirsten Brandt;   San Jose Repertory Theatre

scenic design by Nina Ball, costume design by Shannon Sigman, ighting  design by Kurt Landisman, sound design by Jeff Mockus.  Cast:   Mark Anderson Phillips, Carrie Paff, Richard Farrell, Catherine MacNeal, Jessica Lynn Carroll, Aaron Wilton, Saophia Grace Cuthbert and Nicolas Garcia. 

PRESS:

Vibrantly staged by Kirsten Brandt, San Jose Rep’s associate artistic director, the family dynamic proceeds at a dizzying pace. Brandt directs the action with clarity and relentless momentum… the characters emerge in distinct, dimensional performances.  –  San Jose Mercury News 

Brandt and her cast bring out the best the script has to offer… – SF Gate

What director Kirsten Brandt nails is the pace of the show. In the 90-minute play, which has no intermission, there are so many various moments that need a different tone each time. Brandt moves the action along at a brisk pace, which pays off beautifully in these moments where the big meal takes place…With the warm and gentle humor that comes through the play, there is also a sadness that is steeped in reality.  – Bay Area Plays 

Legacy of Light

By Karen Zacarias directed by Kirsten Brandt  San Jose Repertory Theatre

scenic design by Bill Bloodgood, costume design by Brandon Baron, Lighting & Media design by David Lee Cuthbert, sound design by Jeff Mockus.  Cast:   Rachel Harker, Carrie Paff, Robert Yacko,  Mike Ryan, Katie Tkel, and Miles Villanueva.  Photos by Kevin Berne

PRESS:

Agilely directed by Kirsten Brandt in its West Coast premiere at San Jose Rep, “Light” is a sweetly giddy look at life and love and the gut-wrenching choices women are forced to make, then and now. – San Jose Mercury News 

History and science mix with fiction and maternity as 18th century France intersects with 21st century New Jersey in Karen Zacarías’ intriguing “Legacy of Light.” The effect is often exciting… The story lines smoothly intersect on William Bloodgood’s handsome, spare set in Kirsten Brandt’s fluid stagings… But there’s as much pleasure as nutrition in most of the play’s food for thought. When Olivia meets Voltaire and Zacarías starts mixing up her time frames, the “Legacy” of du Châtelet’s light shines pretty bright. –  San Francisco Chronicle SFGATE

 

Groundswell

by Ian Bruce, directed by Kirsten Brandt
San Jose Repertory Theatre
scenic design by Jon Iacovelli, costumes by Maggie Morgan, lighting by David Lee Cuthbert, sound by Steve Schoenbeck.  Cast includes: Scott Coopwood, Dwight Huntsman, and Peter Van Norten
Phtoto by Kevin Berne

PRESS:

Tautly directed by Kirsten Brandt in its West Coast premiere at San Jose Repertory Theatre, this is a volatile 100-minute tale of dreamers, drifters and cons where you can never be sure whom to trust…  Brandt, former associate artistic director at the Rep, orchestrates the emotional crescendos with a subtle hand. – San Jose Mercury News

Director Kirsten Brandt maximizes each of the performer’s potential, and liberally uses the expanse and depth of the stage. She adds wonderful, nuanced poetic moments to the proceedings that effectively balance the intense, weighty subject matter. – Stark Insider

The tension is so thick, you could cut it with a knife – particularly that nasty-looking blade wielded with such a scary combination of lethal skill and drunken carelessness by Scott Coopwood. In the West Coast premiere of Ian Bruce’s “Groundswell” at San Jose Repertory Theatre, the combination of South Africa’s still-brutal legacy of apartheid with diamonds, poverty and alcohol makes for a combustible situation…  in director Kirsten Brandt’s handsome production.  – San Francisco Chronicle

RABBIT HOLE

By David Lindsay-Abaire directed by Kirsten Brandt 

San Jose Repertory Theatre 

Scenic Design by Kate Edmunds. Costume Design by B. Modern. Lighting Design by David Lee Cuthbert. Sound Design by Jeff Mockus. Cast Includes:  Stacy Ross, Andy Murray, Lynne Soffer, Jessa Watson and James Breedlove. 

Photo credit:  Pat Kirk

PRESS:

In Kirsten Brandt’s expert staging realistically understated emotions, comic touches and a stunning multilayered performance by Stacy Ross make for a deeply affecting drama.  – San Francisco Chronicle

As directed by Kirsten Brandt, this Rabbit Hole resists the tendency towards melodrama, the teary catharsis the play can evoke, in favor of subdued resonance. – San Jose Mercury News

Lobby Hero

by Kenneth Lonergan, directed by Kirsten Brandt, The Old Globe

Scenic design by Nick Fouch, costumes by Mary Larson, lighting design by David Lee Cuthbert and Sound design by Paul Peterson.    with Nick Cordileone, Mark Espinoza, Lauren Lovett and J. August Richards

PRESS:

CRITIC’S CHOICE & One of the Top Ten Productions of 2005 –  San Diego Union-

Tribune

In one of director Kirsten Brandt’s many splendid and meticulous touches, we glimpse Jeff employing the dead hours of his graveyard shift to study such questing modern moral classics as Kerouac’s On the Road.  – CRITIC’S PICK Backstage West

Under the confident, rock-solid direction of Kirsten Brandt (the former artistic director of Sledgehammer theater, who proves here, unequivocally, that she can do as well with : realism as with wild visual extravaganzas), the cast is uniformly excellent.   -CRITIC’S PICK, KPBS

Kirsten Brandt succeeds in creating viewer apprehension and maintains the play’s ambiguity, so that motivations are intriguingly out of sync with the actions of the  characters. -Variety

This

by Melissa James Gibson, directed by Kirsten Brandt, North Coast Repertory

Scenic design by Marty Burnett, costumes by Alina Bokovikova,  lighting design by  Matt Novotny and sound design by Paul Peterson.    Cast includes:  Andrew Ableson, Richard Baird, Courtney Corey, Matt Thompson and Judith Scott

PRESS:

There is no denying that Ms. Brandt is a masterful director.  – Examiner.com

… director Kirsten Brandt… and her tuned-in cast achieve the feat of making Gibson’s quirky conversational flights seem (nearly) natural. – San Diego Union -Tribune

Director Kirsten Brandt brings things together with urgent pacing that slows when it should, and has coaxed an electric energy from the cast.  “This” knows its way around the angst of middle age, but also knows experience sometimes trumps all. – North County Times

 

Third

by Wendy Wasserstein, directed by Kirsten Brandt 

Theatreworks, Palo Alto

Scenic design by John Wilson, costumes by B. Modern, lighting by David Lee Cuthbert, sound by Cliff Caruthers. Cast Includes: Elizabeth Normet, Craig Marker, Amy Resnick, Gerald Hiken, and Emilie Miller. Photos: David Allen

PRESS:

Wasserstein tells the story in a succession of short, truncated scenes – beautifully orchestrated by Kirsten Brandt (associate artistic director at San Jose Repertory)……in Brandt’s staging, “Third” is so sumptuously packaged and the actors are so appealing that it’s easy to overlook the thin content of Jameson’s course. – San Francisco Chronicle

As always, Wasserstein glories in a gift for lacerating self-exposure. When Theresa has a hot flash/anxiety attack at an academic review, director Kirsten Brandt (of San Jose Rep) stages the reverie as a full-out Pirandello fever dream. – San Jose Mercury News

A Dream Play

by August Strindberg,  Translated by Anne-Charlotte Harvey, directed by Kirsten Brandt Sledgehammer Theatre 

Scenic Deign by David Weiner. Costume Design by Mary Larson.  Lighting & Projection Design by David Lee Cuthbert.  Sound Design by Paul Peterson   

PRESS:

KPBS Patte Award “Outstanding Production”

The play cynically confronts matters of morality, religion, philosophy and sexuality.Death, in Strindberg’s worldview, is deliverance. But with a snappy new translation by SDSU professor Anne-Charlotte Harvey, choreographically-precise direction by Kirsten Brandt, an ingenious design team and a crackerjack ensemble, the play brims with imagination and life. – KPBS

Brandt and her sympathetic designers create a visual and aural landscape both coherent and dreamlike… The director also maintains a light touch. She lets the imagery work upon the audience’s imagination, instead of hammering home its relevance. -CRITIC’S CHOICE San Diego Union-Tribune

Christmas on Mars

Scenic design by Nick Fouch, costume design by Angela Calin, lighting design by David Lee Cuthbert and sound design by Paul Peterson. Stage management by Diana Moser.

The cast features Jack Ferver (as Nissim), David Furr (Bruno), Colette Kilroy (Ingrid) and Sarah Grace Wilson (Audrey).

PRESS:

Imagine laughing at pain and crying at comedy and you’ll have some idea of the wild and woolly tone of Harry Kondoleon’s “Christmas on Mars.” And such contradictions don’t begin to describe the emotional zigzags of this one-of-a-kind script, now in a roller-coaster of a production directed by Kirsten Brandt… She’s [Brandt] three for three at the Globe now, having assembled a quartet of actors who make emotional and comic sense of ‘Christmas on Mars”, a show that, more crudely staged, could easily sink into a shapeless mishmash.  – CRITIC’S CHOICE San Diego Union Tribune

Quirkily directed and cleverly cast…  Brandt is meticulous in her character studies, she knows how to build an edge and energy into scenes, and she finds humor in the most unexpected places. She’s the ideal director for the work of Kondoleon,  – North County Times

The acting could not be better and neither could Kirsten Brandt’s direction.  – San Diego Community News Group

…Brandt’s eye for the ridiculous and wacky, and the play beings to spiral into deeper land deeper levels of humor, absurdity, tragedy, and yes, humanity.   – Sandiego.com

 

Hold, Please

by Annie Weisman, directed by Kirsten Brandt

Old Globe

Scenic design by Michael Vaughn Sims, costume design by Mary Larson, lighting design by David Lee Cuthbert, sound design by  Paul Peterson, stage management by  Monica Cuoco.  Cast includes Kandis Chappell, Stephanie Beatriz,  Starla Benford and Kate Arrington.

 …which has barrels of laughs in Kirsten Brandt savvy staging but also contains agonies of wasted lives that howl thought the halls of commerce and industry these painful transitions days…. It’s Weisman that found the content for such a disturbing dreamscape but it’s Brandt who breathed into it all the stubborn humanity and desperate passion.  – sandiego.com

Brandt is meticulous in her character studies, she knows how to build an edge and energy into scenes, and she finds humor in the most unexpected placed. – North County Times

splitting infinity

by Jamie Pachino, directed by Kirsten Brandt; 
San Jose Repertory Theatre 

Scenic Design by Robin Roberts. Lighting by Jaymi Smith.  Costumes by Brandin Baron.  Sound by Paul Peterson.  Cast:  Amy Resnick, Robert Yacko, Chad Deverman, Christine Sage Behrens , Cindy Goldfield and Kevin Dedes.  Photo Credit:  Bob Shomler and Robin Roberts

PRESS:

 One of the Top Ten Productions of 2008San Jose Mercury News

In this West Coast premiere, smartly directed by Kirsten Brandt, it’s also one of the most stimulating plays San Jose Rep has tackled in recent memory. – San Jose Mercury News

A CHRISTMAS CAROL

adapted by DW Jacobs, directed by Kirsten Brandt; concept and production design by David Lee Cuthbert
San Diego Repertory Theatre 
music arrangements by Steve Gunderson; choreography by Jean Issacs; Mary Larson, costumes; Jeff Mockus sound design. Starring Greg Mullavey and Victor Morris.
photo credit: Ken Jacques

PRESS:

[The Rep] has scored again with this lively and ambitious new version ingeniously conceived, designed and lit by David Lee Cuthbert and directed by Kirsten Brandt…this “Carol” could become one of the best of the 14 productions the Rep has staged.  -San Diego Union-Tribune

This year, it’s an all-American version, set in Chicago from the 1920s to 40s. And a beautiful sight it is to behold. With the wisdom of Christmas Present, the Rep brought in the ever-imaginative duo of director Kirsten Brandt and designer David Cuthbert, with Steve Gunderson contributing original music and arrangements. Scrooge and Marley’s is a speakeasy…this delightful version is a gorgeously realized portrait of early 20th century America….. If you haven’t been inspired by this timeless story of greed, transformationand redemption, this is the time and the Rep is the place –KPBS

This Wonderful Life

by Steve Murray, conceived by Mark Setlock, directed by Kirsten Brandt     

San Jose Repertory Theatre 2007

Scenic Design by Robin Roberts. Costume Design by Brandon Baron.  Lighting and Projection Design by  David Lee Cuthbert.  Sound Design by Jeff Mockus.           Cast:  Dan Hiatt

Photo Credit:  Pat Kirk

PRESS:

 Kirsten Brandt staged the show beautifully, providing an escalating cinematic counterpoint to the solo performance… Brandt’s canny orchestration of Hiatt’s versatility creates a seamless shift in tone.   – San Francisco Chronicle

An enchanting one-man retelling of the classic 1946 Frank Capra picture, this San Jose Repertory Theatre production is sweeter than gingerbread….Director Kirsten Brandt wisely frames the actor with only skeletal pieces… – San Jose Mercury News

The iNtelligent design of Jenny Chow

by Rolin Jones, Directed by Kirsten Brandt  The Old Globe Theatre

Scenic design by Michelle Riel, costume design by Mary Larson, lighting design by David Lee Cuthbert, sound design by Paul Peterson, stage management by Diana Moser.  Cast Includes:  Seema Sueko,  Steve Pickering, Zachary Quinto, Jordan Baker, Kelley Van Kirk and Michelle Wong 

PRESS:

San Diego Critics Circle Award for “Outstanding Direction”

…in the nimble hands of director Kirsten Brandt – yes, that’s the Sledgehammer Theatre boss – the Globe’s new production of this original, wide-awake script is more lively and insightful than SCR’s. It’s one terrific breakthrough for Brandt, the Old Globe and the immensely talented lead actress, now a San Diego resident, Seema Sueko… Brandt, with revisions from Jones, beautifully calibrates the revelations that deepen this mostly hilarious evening. -CRITIC’S CHOICE San Diego Union-Tribune

Under Kirsten Brandt’s sharp direction, the Cassius Carter rivals a circus for activity. Brandt, Sledgehammer Theatre’s artistic director, specializes in bold physicality… But Brandt does something else. In the wrong hands, the play could devolve into a jokefest, spoken in “Dude” and laced with, like, four-letter words. But Jenny Chow is also about roots and relativity, real and imagined fears. It resembles Stephen Wadsworth’s recent Don Juan, at the Old Globe, in that both alternate the comic and the deeply serious. And Brandt stages scenes, back-to-back, that shift from funny to touching on a dime.  -CRITIC’S CHOICE San Diego Reader

And as a drama, the play also provides intense emotional opportunities that permit director Kirsten Brandt and her astonishingly good cast to propel this young playwright’s words into that theatrical hyperspace where they sprout unsuspected dimensions. – CRITIC’S PICK, Backstage West

Macbeth (at Sledgehammer)

by William Shakespeare directed by Kirsten Brandt  at Sledgehammer Theatre 

Scenic design by Nick Fouch, costume design by Mark Larson, ligthing design by David Lee Cuthbert, sound design my Jeff Mockus, stage management by Rosalee Barrientos.  Cast includes:  David Tierney, Janet Hayatshahi, Ruff Yeager, Laura Lee Juliano, Donald McClure, Monique Gaffney, Lisel Gorell-Getz,Jeremiah Maestas, Brianne Kostielney

PRESS:

San Diego Playbill Award “Outstanding Direction”

The Sledgehammer staging… faces no such troubles keeping its balance. It’s a quirky but sure-footed interpretation of the bleak Shakespeare tragedy, one that preserves the play’s chilling impact while introducing just enough twists of its own. Sledgehammer’s take on the play… leaves the wickedness intact, but with a layer of intelligence that makes watching this play anything but toil and trouble. -CRITIC’S CHOICE, San Diego Union-Tribune

Directed by Kirsten Brandt… these are supercharged, energized performances… They evoke internalized trauma in dramatic, winded tantrums that seem to release their inner selves like projectiles to the audience… If my introduction to Shakespeare was this production of Macbeth I would be an immediate fan of the Bard   –Gay and Lesbian Times

Richard III

by William Shakespeare directed by Kirsten Brandt
Sledgehammer Theatre
Scenic Design by Anthony Gutowski, Costume Design by Mary Larson. Lighting Design by David Lee Cuthbert, Sound Design by Paul Peterson., Video Design by Aaron MacFarland,

PRESS:

San Diego Playbill Award “Outstanding Ensmeble”

…a deliciously disturbing world. In that world (conceived for this production by artistic director Kirsten Brandt), Richard wears a suit and carries a cane, subjects his victims to televised executions, and is shadowed by pop bad-guy icons who insist on videotaping their atrocities. …Richard III is a play worthy of its author and its modern audience. It oozes with modern sensationalism——there’s ample gunplay, combat fatigues replace armor, and six active televisions remind us of the role of spectacle in contemporary politics. It’s theater at its finest, making the play not merely accessible but also timely; we become spectators of spectators who root for news of death and destruction rather than no news at all. -OC Weekly

The Frankenstein Project

by adapted and directed by Kirsten Brandt;  World Premiere, Sledgehammer Theatre 

Production Design by David Lee Cuthbert.  Costume Design by Mary Larson. Original Music & Sound Design (v. 2.0) Jeff Mockus  Sound 1999 version Todd Reishman 

PRESS:

KPBS Patte Award “Outstanding Direction”

Bold, ambitious, and stirring…Brandt has become a disciplined and inventive theatrical storyteller.…fresh theatrical blend of sound, image and movement…It revisits urgent questions of art, religion and science at a time when the specter of Frankenstein’s monster is closer to reality…Line for line Brandt’s script… is provocative, richly allusive stuff. The acting is sharp and sure… the most polished, provocative ensemble work at Sledge in many a season. –CRITIC’S CHOICE San Diego Union-Tribune

… the direction is precise, the performances meticulous, and the stage pictures are  often gorgeous… There’s also a deliciously creepy soundscape… … the play will certainly  unnerve and disturb…”        – KPBS                                                                                       

…one of the best-looking shows ever staged at St. Cecilia’s.     – The San Diego Reader

It’s a multisensory feast of virtuoso orchestration… – sandiego.com

 

Furious Blood

by Kelly Stuart (based on The Oresteia), directed by Kirsten Brandt;  World Premiere, Sledgehammer Theatre 

Scenic design by David F. Weiner, costume design by Mary Larson, lighting design by David Lee Cuthbert, sound design by Paul Peterson.

PRESS:

KPBS Patte Award “Outstanding Direction”

If you want to know what hip, young feminists are thinking and doing, jet over to Sledgehammer Theatre, to see Furious Blood, another provocative production… Brandt’s muscular direction is beautiful to behold… wickedly wild, screechy, preachy, humorous , in-your-face… –KPBS 

And under the incisive direction of Kirsten Brandt, it makes for the most entertaining comedy of the year. – CRITIC’S PICK Backstage West

Kelly Stuart’s freewheeling adaptation, which sets the action in a weirdly contemporary time, is blisteringly funny at times, and Kirsten Brandt’s direction is intensely visceral. – OC Weekly

The Devil's RIver

created by the Sledgehammer Ensemble, directed by Kirsten Brandt

scenic deisgn by  Anthony Gutowski, costume design by Mary Larson, lighting design by Mike Durst, sound by Todd M. Reischman

World Premiere Sledgehammer Theatre 

PRESS:

…combines the comedic swagger and satiric bite of the San Francisco Mime Troupe with the raw physicality of contemporary dance theater.  -San Diego Union Tribune

…ambitious, kaleidoscopic, darkly funny, challenging, and diffuse… is equal parts feminist/political diatribe, folkloric tall tale, and raucous send-up of the rootin’ tootin’ Wild West and the larger-than-life types that promoted and settled it.  – CRITIC’S PICK Backstage West

As always, you’ll marvel at the troupe’s ability to do things few would dare attempt——and fewer still could pull off…. Devil’s River is a haunting look at some choice American myths turned savagely on their rotten little heads in a decidedly feminist take by the fiercely talented Brandt. As the company’s artistic director, she’s Sledgehammer’’s lead pulverizer… The performers are fearless, Brandt’s direction is fluid and frenetic… –OC Weekly

A Knife in the Heart

by Susan Yankowitz, directed by Kirsten Brandt

West Coast Premiere  Sledgehammer Theatre  October 2002

Scenic Design by Michelle Ficcello.  Costume Design by Mary Larson. Lighting Design by David Lee Cuthbert.  Sound Design by Paul Peterson.   photo credit:  David Lee Cuthbert.  Cast includes:Rosina Reynolds , David Stanbra, Wm. Todd Tressler, Laura Lee Juliano, Walter Murray, Matt Scott, and Anahid Shahrik

PRESS:

KPBS Patte Award for “Outstanding Direction” & San Diego Playbill Award for “Outstanding Direction”

.. beautiful does describe Sledge artistic director Kirsten Brandt’s startling andrestrained production of “A Knife in the Heart.” … this complex yet fluent staging is a breakthrough for Brandt. -CRITIC’S CHOICE San Diego Union-Tribune

This Sledgehammer Theatre production is a magnificent marriage of substance, style and form, melding Yankowitz’s scorching scenes and dialogue, Kirsten Brandt’s stark, sizzling direction… Every piece of theater should be like this ‘Knife in the Heart’ — a brilliant collaborative effort that forces us to examine who and what we are. – KPBS

Demonology

by Kelly Stuart, directed by Kirsten Brandt;   Sledgehammer Theatre

Scenic design by David Ledsinger, costume design by Michelle Short,  lighting design by Richard Anthony Felner, Sound design by Paul Peterson.  Cast includes:  Julie Jacobs, Tim West, Josh Stoddard and Barbara Koller

PRESS:

KPBS Patte Award “Outstanding Production”

CRITIC’S CHOICE San Diego Union-Tribune

…funny, impassioned and seductive production… Under Kirsten Brandt’s crisp, stylized direction, Gina and Joe face off like boxers measuring one another up before slugging it out… It’s a provocative and penetrating production… -Los Angeles Times

…director Kirsten Brandts’s energetic production makes Stuarts’s questions worth thinking about…. There is a clever wickedness in Stuart;s play that permeates every aspect of this production.  Brandt takes the style and runs.  – OC Weekly

Kirsten Brandt has directed with a woman’s eye and a female touch. – KPBS

Alice in Modernland

music and libretto by Kirsten Nash, directed by Kirsten Brandt,  World Premiere Rock Opera Sledgehammer Theatre 

Vocal direction by Joseph Grienenberger, music direction by Don LaMaster, scenic deign by David Weiner, costume design by Mary Larson, lighting design by David Lee Cuthbert, Sound design by Paul Peterson

…a directorial triumph for Brandt.. a tight Sledge ensemble whose vocal strength and visual polish are a big step towards a Brandt era at the downtown theatre   –CRITIC’S CHOICE San Diego Union-Tribune

Her [Brandt] eye-popping stage-pictures and endlessly imaginative direction are dazzling.  – KPBS

sweet charity

conceived by Bob Fossee, Book by Neil Simon, Music by Cy Coleman, Lyrics by Dorothy Fields

directed by Kirsten Brandt, choreographed by Gina Angelique, music direction by Dan Koeshall, vocal direction by Bill Doyle, scenic design by David LEdsigner, costume design by Stacey Roth, lighting design by Peter Smith, sound design by Jeff Ladman.

PRESS:

Backstage West Garland Award for Direction

But their Sweet Charity will easily appeal to more than aficionados of the avant-garde eccentricity… rather than being merely the typical small troupe’s scaled down version of a big Broadway show, it is more like the boiled concentrate of a sauce reduced to its savorous essence –and as such is truer to the gritty, tragicomic tone of Fellini’s original tale. This Sweet Charity has the power to prove a pungent and concentrated little hit. – CRITIC’S PICK, Backstage West

But in Kirsten Brandt’s hands, this Sweet Charity, feels like what Fosse might have conceived if he’d been working in the ‘90s. It’s a masterful blend of Broadway saccharine and avant-garde sensibilities, with plenty of jagged edges. –OC Weekly

University Theatre - Guest director

Machinal - UC Santa Cruz

Good Person of Setzuan - UC Santa Cruz