O Positive Signs Miranda Haymon
O Positive welcomes Miranda Haymon, a Princess Grace Award-winning writer, director and curator, and Roundabout Theatre Company resident director, to the company for commercial representation. The news was announced today by O Positive director/partner David Shane.
An ascendant theatre talent, Haymon’s recent credits include “Really Really Gorgeous” at The Tank, “In the Penal Colony” at The Tank, Next Door @ NYTW and “Mondo Tragic” at The National Black Theatre. Along the way, Haymon paired up with Shane to direct a piece he had written for the stage. The two of them immediately struck up a kinship over their mutual love of stories and acting, with Shane floating the idea of them directing commercials. As he watched Haymon direct his work, Shane recalled with a laugh that he kept thinking, “Oh, that’s how you direct!”
“David is a really generous collaborator, and has a perfect sense of rhythm,” Haymon said. “And since those are the core tenets of my style and interests as a theater director, we immediately hit it off. David’s play had tons of characters, lots of narrative arcs and leading themes. But we approached it scene by scene, so I had the chance to see not only how big he could go but also how micro, moment-to-moment. That’s part of why we collaborate really well when we are both on set, because we have that introductory connection of him as a playwright and me as theater director.”
Haymon is now blazing a path in commercials. They initially shadowed Shane on several commercial shoots before shifting to directing their own ads for Dunkin’ and Spectrum with Shane on set to advise when needed.
“The best part about directing commercials is that every single attempt and try at a line or a joke is captured and you get to keep playing with it in post,” Haymon said. “That’s more difficult in theater. When you’re working with an actor live on stage, they have one shot at a line every performance, so all those different choices we made in the rehearsal room morph into just one moment. Working with talent is my favorite part of being a director no matter what we are doing.”
Haymon’s first brand film was for Gucci. “A Cakewalk” was commissioned by Garage magazine and playwright/producer Jeremy O. Harris. It uses Gucci’s Fall 2020 collection with an ensemble of talent cycling through a processional, a parade, a funeral, a carnival, a ball and a ritual to explore the current state of mind for BIPOC during Covid-19.
Getting to know the advertising landscape during the pandemic has taken some ingenuity. So Shane and Haymon are hosting coffee meet ups with agencies via zoom in lieu of in-person introductory meetings. The meetings serve as great forums to sit down with agencies and exchange ideas on process and the craft and skill of directing.
While directing commercials and directing live theatre are distinctive disciplines, there is plenty of common ground, Haymon explained. “The process of making a commercial and the process of making a play are radically different because of how the story will be distributed to an audience,” Haymon said. “But commercials and theater are time-based art forms; they rely on timing, rhythm and tempo. Both are focused on harnessing the power of light, sound and other elements of design such as art and scenic direction. And they both have several entry points in terms of POV and relationship to the audience. It’s just that our entry point in commercials is through the lens of a camera, and in theater it’s the naked eye.”
“For someone who doesn’t have tons of experience directing for screen, Miranda brings so many skill sets to bear,” commented Shane. “They’ve obviously worked with a wide breadth of actors, they’ve worked with production designers in the design and building of sets, they know lighting and color temperature. Miranda has an innate sense of story and an eye for the little moments of behavior that make something so watchable. They’re also used to collaborating - Miranda’s bubbling with ideas but is always open to the ideas of others. I hate to say this, but if there is one small ray of sunshine from the world of theater disintegrating around Miranda for a year, it’s that they finally had some bandwidth to think about directing other stuff. It’s funny, I spent months picking their brain about directing for theater and now it’s a little bit the other way around.”
“O Positive is a good fit because they operate very much like a tight knit ensemble, which is how I prefer to grow and collaborate,” Haymon enthused. “David and I will collaborate to grow my experience through making sure I’m getting a little bit of everything. No spot is the same, so we are focusing on building out my toolkit with a fun and diverse range of material. Also, my entry point into directing was through comedy. I did improv and stand up throughout high school and college, so joining the roster of a comedy shop makes me feel right at home.”
“Miranda is an incredible communicator and that’s obvious during prep and on set,” said Ralph Laucella, executive producer/partner, O Positive. “They are accustomed to directing live performances, so that confidence and expertise working in the moment shines through. Their collaborative process with cast yields authentic performances. And their expertise in production craft is apparent by how they work with and inspire the crew.”
O Positive executive producer/partner Marc Grill added: “I had the opportunity to be on set with Miranda a couple of times and despite their limited experience with film they immediately understood art direction, styling and lighting. So much of their stage experiences seamlessly translates to the production world. But what really impressed me was Miranda’s ability to adapt Kafka short stories for the theater. Thirty second storytelling is a breeze compared to that.”
A proud Bostonian and a graduate of Wesleyan University, Haymon’s based in New York City where they are an active part of the theatre community. In recent years, Miranda directed acclaimed productions for New York Theatre Workshop, The Tank, National Black Theatre and many others, partaken in readings and workshops at The Public Theatre, Manhattan Theatre Club and Roundabout Theatre Company, and was even the associate director of an opera at Lincoln Center Theater. American Theatre included them in their feature “Meet the Leaders Who Are Already Reshaping The Field.” Miranda is a frequent moderator and panelist, and their critical writing and interviews have been featured in Howlround, iWeigh, The Brooklyn Rail and more.