Inside Look with Actor Turned Director, Rengin Altay

If you have had a chance to see KING LIZ, I am sure you will not at all be surprised to hear that in addition to the talented actors, we have an equally talented and experienced team behind the scenes who helped the show come to life! We had the chance to sit down with Assistant Director Rengin Atlay, and to get a glimpse at the work that went behind her role on the production.

First, KING LIZ! We wanted to get a taste of her work on the show. Director Chuck Smith has quite the directing background, and we wanted to get the inside scoop on how it felt being on his team as his Assistant Director.

Working with Chuck Smith was really delightful. He’s so calm, and laid-back. Which is not to say he just lets the thing run wild, he’s allowing his actors and his production team to do their job. He then steps in and gives guidance, notes, directives, when he sees that people are getting off course. Being a rather impatient person myself, that was a great lesson: to keep one’s fingers out of it until one’s fingers are needed. To allow, and trust your team to figure out, how to do their jobs.

Rengin found his methods to be beneficial both for the rehearsal process, but also for her own growth as a new director. While Rengin has an impressive acting resume, she is a bit new to directing.

I used to think I didn’t have a broad enough ability to view things broadly, therefore it would be difficult for me to see a play as a whole and be able to take it apart and build a production, build a story to tell people. But as I’ve gotten older, my viewpoint has changed.

She finally found her chance to test out the directing muscle in 2016! Rengin’s friend Tracy Egan asked her to direct her one-woman show YOU CAN ONLY TAKE THE A.C.T. TWELVE TIMES, and Rengin had a blast. Since, she has looked for other successful and exciting collaborations, much like her current partnership with Chuck Smith.

However, as we said before, Rengin is certainly not new to theater. Her life in the arts began at a young age as a child in a family of artists in the Highland Park area of Chicago:

I’m the youngest of a large family: seven kids. It was a very raucous household, and the arts were a huge part of it. My father was an architect and my mother had been an English teacher before they got married, and was a huge opera fan. Almost everyone in my family was involved in theater during their high school years, so I feel like I was part of a legacy.

Rengin performed throughout her high school years, but like so many others, she was unsure if theater was the right track for her career:

I didn’t think going into theater would be a good idea; after all it’s not an occupation for a grown-up. But by the time I got to the end of my junior year I realize there was really nothing else I wanted to do.

And so, she decided to take the next step. She started out at The Julliard School for two years, and after realizing that New York was not quite for her, she returned to her home state and attended Illinois State University. Looks like the move was the right one, because she has been acting ever since, and came to realize that Chicago was to be her artistic home.

The thing about Chicago, is the thing that brought me back home. It’s that Chicago is very much based in reality both in its culture as well as its Culture. Which is to say, as the theater in this town is based in reality and getting to the heart of people, so are the people of Chicago.

Rengin’s career so far has been one of learning and growing, and that brings us right up to KING LIZ! Rengin found it to be an excellent learning experience, and feels all of us have a lot to gain from the play.

As for KING LIZ: this has been a great learning experience… I think it says a lot about women in business, and how we treat each other as people, how we treat each other as commodities, and figuring out how people figure out what’s important in life and how to get on with it. The consequences of our choices.

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