Liz Maxwell is a theater director, physical performer, and the Artistic Director of the Art Monastery Project, an international non-profit that cultivates personal awakening and cultural transformation through art, contemplation, and community. Liz has been living at the Project's pilot site, Art Monastery Italia, since March 2010, where she has directed site-specific traveling spectacles and original theatrical events, in addition to singing everything from American jazz rep to Gregorian Chant concerts and medieval music. As Artistic Director, Liz designs the Project's multi-disciplinary programs and works to extend international opportunities to high-level artists who have an interest in exploring the inner life of the artist and the monastic principle of community.
Originally from New Orleans, Liz graduated from Louisiana Scholars’ College at Northwestern State University in May 2008 with a double major in Theatre (Minor: Dance) and Liberal Arts (Concentration: Humanities and Social Thought). Her primary interest as a theater director lies in devising original work such as gravesongs., which was voted the Audience Pick of the 2009 Cincinnati Fringe Festival and earned three Cincinnati Acclaim Awards, in association with a Directing Internship with the Ensemble Theatre of Cincinnati. In 2011, Liz trained with the prestigious SITI Company in New York, deepening her interest in the Viewpoints and other devising techniques to create inventive, meaningful moments on stage.
"As an artist, I seek to create work that is profound, funny, smart, epic, and relevant. I have an unending fascination with human beings: how human beings cope with being alive, how and why individuals turn themselves into groups (socially, politically, and spiritually), and the many diverse ways this occurs in cultures all around the globe. I strive to make work that is deeply personal, culturally specific, and at the same time touches upon the universal."
Liz applied these principles to AM Italia summer of 2012 in which she designed and led a 90-day art monastic retreat with the purpose of creating an original, collaborative, multi-disciplinary theatre piece. For 60 days, 13 "Artmonks" lived together as an intentional community, sharing a rigorous schedule, daily communal meals and chores, and nightly Gregorian chant singing of the Requiem Mass, in additional to rehearsals and daily training. The final 30 days were spent showing the work publicly at seven performances in art festivals around central Italy, in addition to keeping up community life practices and numerous multi-disciplinary skill-sharing sessions. This process vs. product social sculpture experiment harnessed the Art Monastery Project's interests of art, contemplation, and community and explored rigorous artistic practice paired with care for the inner life of the artist. The show is a 70-minute dance-theater piece entitled Ad Mortem: Un'avventura proprio!" [Towards Death: A real adventure!], with an original score utilizing digital loop technology and text from the ensemble in both Italian and English. The work showed at the La MaMa Spoleto Open Fringe Festival in Spoleto, Italy in August 2012, and is available for additional performances in Italy or the U.S. More information: www.artmonastery.org/ad-mortem