Louisville's not done with ?Amy Attaway

Aug 10, 2016 at 12:43 pm
Amy Attaway
Amy Attaway

Amy Attaway, the new associate artistic director of Kentucky Shakespeare Festival, nearly escaped.

“Louisville is such a great town for theater, but it has limitations, financially and opportunity wise. We lose a lot of smart young actors to other cities,” she said.

Attaway, 37, nearly was one of those actors. She’s tried to escape Louisville several times after getting lots of professional experience in her tweens and teens at Stage One Family Theater.

First she tried to escape by leaving for college in Evansville, Indiana. After graduation, she moved to New York.

She came home to save a little money during a summer break before heading back to New York, and she landed a temporary gig at The Kentucky Foundation for Women. “Which started as ‘we could use some help in the office.’ Five minutes later, I’m the office manager. Five minutes later, I’m the grants manager. Four years later, I was like, oh wait, I’m supposed to be in theater,” said Attaway.

During her time at KFW, Attaway also discovered her love of directing, and she began planning to go to graduate school. She tried to escape again, accepting an internship at Cincinnati’s prestigious PlayHouse in the Park, which gave her valuable experience assistant directing.

But then she got a call from Zan Sawyer Dailey, an influential, longtime member of Actors Theatre of Louisville, who talked to her about a job with Actors’ prestigious apprentice company. Attaway worked at Actors for five years, always planning to leave for grad school, but when Actors Theatre is letting you direct, it’d be foolish to leave.

In her spare time, she began a small company, Theatre [502], to give actors who stay in Louisville a chance to produce and perform in high-quality work, and to present recent and relevant theater to Louisville.

But those limitations in the scene were starting to hold Attaway back again. Attaway recalled thinking, “The next job I want is to be an associate artist director of a company, but I think that to get to the next rung I have to leave Louisville.”

And she was indeed out of town the summer that Kentucky Shakespeare changed leadership, with a new artistic director, Matt Wallace, leading it on a seemingly endless upward trajectory. One of his first decisions was to hire Attaway as the sole guest director of his inaugural season. She’s come back to guest direct each year, as he has steadily grown the program.

Last month on opening night of “Romeo and Juliet,” Wallace announced that Attawy would be joining the company full time as its associate artistic director, a position that now exists due to the growth of the company.

Sorry, Attaway. Louisville’s not done with you yet.