James Vesce is a director, musical director, composer, sound designer, and educator. He has directed community-based, university, and professional theater, including works in New York at the Kraine Theater and the International Fringe Festival; in Boston at the Strand Theatre, the Institute for Contemporary Art, the Lyric Stage, the World Trade Center, and the Shubert Theater; and in Amherst, MA at New WORLD Theater. His musical work has been performed by Notorio Dance Company in New York venues including the International Dance Festival at the Duke on 42nd Street, Joyce Soho, and The Kitchen, and at Jacob’s Pillow in Beckett, Massachusetts. He has also composed music featured at First Night Boston, New WORLD Theater, and the National Black Theatre Festival.
James was co-founder and Artistic Director of the Dimock Street Voices, an inner-city performing arts company in Boston. Over a period of eight years the DSV created and performed over twenty-eight new or restaged classic works and musicals addressing many of the social and cultural concerns in Boston’s neighborhoods, particularly youth and gang violence, substance abuse, and the concerns of youth-at-risk. The Voices also built collaborative associations with many local institutions, including the Massachusetts Department of Public Health, the City of Boston, the Strand Theatre, the University of Massachusetts College at Amherst, the Harvard School of Public Health, the Massachusetts College of Pharmacy, the Massachusetts College of Art, and Roxbury Community College. Dimock joined forces with the Lyric Stage of Boston to consolidate its training program and graduated a number of artists now working as professionals in regional theater, on Broadway, and in film and television.
In 2004 James created Twilight Repertory Company, an interdisciplinary performing arts company based in Charlotte, North Carolina. Twilight Rep established itself as a company committed to the presentation of underrepresented theatrical and dance forms, new work diverse playwrights, and deconstructed plays from the multicultural repertory. Its inaugural production, simple thoughts, based on the Langston Hughes character Jesse B. Semple, debuted at the Connelly Theatre in New York as part of the 2004 New York International Fringe Festival. In 2006 it premiered ReQuiem for New 0rleans: A Hip Hop Eulogy, a political and social critique of Hurricane Katrina’s aftermath fusing Hip Hop and traditional elements of the Requiem Mass, at the Actor’s Playhouse in New York. BACKSTAGE called the production “an important theatrical portrait of a disgraceful chapter in recent American history.” Twilight Rep has also produced other musical works for the New York stage: Cherry Jackson’s enigmatic In The Master’s House There Are Many Mansions at Teatro LATEA in 2016, a piece the New York Times called “an outlier: an ambitious revival in a festival dominated by new pieces,” and The Moon Prince: A Rap Opera, an urban children’s musical based on African folktales, and an Invited Production at the 2017 New York Musical Festival.
Vesce’s areas of interest and expertise include postmodern theater and performance, the direction and creation of new and experimental work in theater and musical theater, and community-engaged performance. His work frequently explores the visual boundaries between theater performance and design and movement and is evidenced in many of his previous productions – from classic works like Antigone and romeo.juliet to innovative and topical works like the politically charged The Roots of Coincidence, Street Song: The Rhythms of Langston Hughes (described critically as a visionary piece), and Shakespeare’s The Tempest.
James is former Chair and Associate Professor of Directing in the Department of Theatre at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte. He is an Associate Member of the Stage Directors and Choreographers Society (SDC), and has served as a member of both the Association for Theatre in Higher Education (ATHE) and the Southeastern Theatre Conference (SETC), as well as a Respondent for the Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival (KCACTF). He holds a BA from Loyola University, an MTS from Harvard Divinity School, and an MFA from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst.
If you are interested in his work as a director, musical director, composer, or sound designer, please click on the contact page.