Erwin Maas directs and teaches theatre & opera with artists based in the New York Metropolitan area and around the world as part of his Well-Lived Productions. His classes and his productions have a strong European physical component and explore contemporary, often foreign, self adapted or devised, unconventional, provocative works. Maas believes that through practical investigation in an atelier environment the theatre artists’ craft truly can develop to create a more powerful level on the stage. As a director, his interests lie in the exploration of the relationship between story, body, space and time. His work endeavours to create a visceral theatrical event and to offer a contemporary perspective on texts and subject matter so as to enrich the senses, the mind and the soul.
Erwin was born in the Netherlands in 1976. After his first degree in Drama Teaching, Directing and Acting at the Academy for Dramatic Arts in Eindhoven - the Netherlands, Maas obtained his MFA in Theatre Directing at Columbia University’s School of the Arts in New York City. He also holds a Masters degree in Media Arts & Production (Documentary Filmmaking) from the University of Technology in Sydney - Australia, where he explored the relationship between story-telling in cinema and theatre. Before moving to New York, Erwin was a much celebrated drama teacher and theatre director in the highly acclaimed Dutch youth theatre scene.
Erwin worked extensively in Australia, Europe and USA. In New York he directed plays & opera in the Off Broadway Atlantic Theater & Cherry Lane Theatre, and Off-Off Broadway at the Sanford Meisner Theater, Chashama, Miller Theatre, Ontological Theater, The Connelly Theatre and HERE Arts Center as well as site specific productions. Directed works include: Alcina (G.F. Händel), Il Decamerone (Boccaccio), Roberto Zucco (Koltès), Calvados (Peeters), The Lesson (Ionèsco), The Dangers of Tobacco (Chekhov), Brimstone & Treacle (Potter), The Northern Quarter & Welcome to the Woods (Van Warmerdam), Sortie de Théâtre (Grumberg), Attempts on her life (Crimp) and self composed adaptations of The Odyssey (Homer), Germania (Müller), Medeia (Euripides), The Lord of the Flies (Golding), Sans Rancune (Van Daalen), The Cement Garden (McEwan) and more.
As assistant director, Erwin worked for Elizabeth LeCompte and The Wooster Group in their production of Poor Theater in New York City and for Mons de Goede and the popular Stichting Theaterplan in their productions of the musicals Man of LaMancha and Move in the Netherlands. He collaborated with American Opera Projects, the Object Theater Group, Hybrid Theatre Works, Pocket Opera of New York, Nico Muhly, Zaid Jabri, Nico de Rooij, Mimi Lien, Oana Botez, Jian Jung, Jeanette Yew, Michael Haverty, Lucrecia Briceno, Sam Forman and Saviana Stanescu, among many others.
Maas worked as a guest lecturer, guest speaker, instructor, director and workshop leader for many international universities & academies, including the Kunsthochshule Berlin Weißensee, University of Amsterdam, Columbia University & Barnard College, Yale School of Drama, NYU Tisch School of the Arts, Royal Dutch Conservatoire The Hague, Carnegie Mellon University, Fontys Academy for Dramatic Arts Tilburg, Escuela de Cine de Barcelona, Repertory Theatre University of Technology Sydney, Georgetown University, Trinity Rep at Brown University, and Theatermakers Studio Rotterdam. Currently, he is teaching at Brooklyn College’s MFA Performance & Interactive Media Arts Program (PIMA) and he is a frequent guest speaker and workshop leader at Studios, Schools and Theaters in the NY Metropolitan area.
From 2010 to 2014, Maas shared the position of Director of Performing Arts for the Cultural Department of the Royal Netherlands Embassy & Consulates in the USA, establishing and strengthening international cultural relations in the performing arts. He is on the Artistic Advisory Board of the ISSUE Project Room in Brooklyn and a member of the Cultural Committee of the Netherland-America Foundation.
Erwin received numerous prestigious grants and awards including the Fulbright Netherland-America Foundation fellowship and NAF cultural grants, Shubert Foundation, Matthews Theatre Fund Fellowship, the Consulate General of the Netherlands in New York cultural grants, VandenEnde Foundation, Columbia University Fellowship, Fund for the Performing Arts Netherlands, Dutch Film Fund, the Royal Prince Bernhard Cultural Award and many more. He also won the Chashama Area Award for his production of ‘The Northern Quarter’ Off-Off Broadway and a New Victory LabWorks residency, 7Stages residency & Elaine Cancilla Orbach Studio Award to further develop his work.
“Erwin Maas consistently brings his actors beyond their ordinary habits of performance, to a professional level of artistry. Though not a native of English, Erwin’s ability to perceive and communicate the rhythm, cadence, harmony, and melody of the English language in Shakespeare, Chekhov, and other classic playwrights, as well as contemporary playwrights, places him among the ablest directors of theatre. His sensitivity to the musicality of language and to the breath of his actors is a unique gift possessed by few directors. His visual imagination and his, almost, cinematic transitions on stage are absolutely eye-catching and show a theatrical innovation. I am confident that Erwin Maas will continue to have a tremendous effect as a director of theatre in America and throughout the world.” – Anne Bogart (Head of Columbia University’s MFA Directing program / Theatre Director)
“In his work, Erwin displays an uncommon insight that represents the best of what theatre can offer. He is a director in the grand manner. He represents the upper echelon of professional directors of theatre, and will greatly enhance our nation’s theatrical legacy.” – Robert Woodruff (Former Artistic Director Harvard’s A.R.T. / Faculty Yale School of the Arts / Theatre Director)
“Erwin’s vision, theatrical ingenuity and directing skills made him a thrill to work with. I knew from the beginning that he was a director different from all the others I had worked with, for his spirit and dedication, and for his unique vision and intellectual flexibility and openness: he is a theatre visionary who has the ability not only to direct some of the highest quality and some of the most innovative theatre, he is also an infectious teacher and a stellar collaborator. Erwin is an avid listener, and always hungry for new ideas. He never ceases to surprise me, by his extraordinary diligence, his commitment to his craft, and his capacity always to challenge himself as well as to encourage those around him to do the same. I strongly believe that Erwin Maas will be a real builder of bridges between theatre artists in North America and Europe. He has already established significant trans-Atlantic collaborations, and I know that he will continue actively to pursue new links and opportunities for cross-cultural work. In my career I have worked with the best and I teach among the greatest theatre artists and thinkers. I believe that Erwin Maas is one of them and he will continue to have a profound impact on the people he works with and on his audiences.” – Kélina Gotman (Associate Professor, Convenor and Chair, MA Theatre, Text and Performance Studies King’s College London / Dramaturge)
“Erwin is one of the most venturesome, talented and visionary directors that I have had the opportunity to work with. Among the many amazing aspects of Erwin’s work is an ability to push the boundaries of the medium, moving beyond realism, to an alternate theatrical reality that opens an audience up to new registers of meaning. The result is some of the most challenging, stimulating work that I’ve seen. Erwin has a way of getting under the skin of a particular play and presenting its underbelly, a process that is truly revelatory both in terms of capturing an author’s voice and expanding the vocabulary of theatre. He has forged a unique voice and vision that I feel is posed to transform the field and make a significant contribution to the future life of theatre.” – Brian Kulick (Artistic Director Classic Stage Company NYC / Theatre Director)
“Erwin is an amazingly multi-facetted artist, whose work is always close to reality and up-to-date-discussions, it’s emotional and intelligent at the same time, it explores the boundaries of theater and looks for new expressive forms as well as it shows an extreme knowledge of traditional theater methods. He combines the theater strategies of different cultures and nations which give his productions a specific, multi-layered, strong aesthetic format. Erwin Maas’ work is bold and innovative, and absolutely rich with ideas coming from all the different cultural and educational backgrounds he experienced.” – Katja Langenbach (German Theatre Director & Dramaturge)
“When I heard that Erwin Maas single-handedly re-created the Theatre Tomato Revolt (Aktie Tomaat), which took place in the Netherlands in 1969, in his first year at Columbia University through a piece of genius direction, I was very curious to meet this young Dutch director. Maas has a profoundly positive effect on the artistic development of his actors. He not only brings foreign plays to the United States, he also introduces and supports American works and artists abroad.” – Andrei Serban (Tony Award winning internationally renowned Theatre Director)
“Erwin Maas has what it takes. His ability to bring European experiences to the American stage is refreshing and captivating. Combining cultures, presenting new ideas, and finding original ways of expression are what keeps theater exciting and alive. Erwin Maas offers this. He collaborates with actors, playwrights and designers in a way they haven’t experienced working with many American directors. He excites his artistic partners by his different way of thinking and his unique teaching methods.” – Judy Kay (Tony Award winning Actress)
“It is Maas’ ability to work among cultures and among languages that makes him especially valuable to the theater community in the United States as we seek to make our work known abroad and to enrich the arts here through contact with what is being written and produced elsewhere.” – James Leverett (Head of Columbia University’s Dramaturgy program / Associate Professor Dramaturgy, Yale School of Drama)
“Mr. Maas is destined to become an excellent bi-cultural director at a time when international work will become increasingly important. Erwin is part of a vanguard of capable young professionals who will redefine the theatre of the future in a globally connected and increasingly interactive world. He is certain to reach across cultures in a way that will help audiences and theatre artists to develop greater sensitivity and awareness of important global issues.” – Michael Johnson-Chase (Faculty, Conservatory of Theatre & Film, SUNY Purchase / Artistic Associate, Lark Play Development Center)
"Erwin Maas' direction is a breath of fresh air, pushing his cast to extremes and taking risk ... what he orchestrates is a funny, devastating and eye-catching portrait." - Antonio Minino (The Happiest Medium)
“Maas created a little gem!” – Tom Penketh (Backstage.com)
“A typical Dutch treat on Manhattan. Dutch director Erwin Maas presents himself in the shadow of Broadway. Americans enjoy this outstanding performance of typical Dutch snugness.” – De Volkskrant
“Great excuse to go Dutch! Juicy images, rendered with low-tech aplomb by translator-director Erwin Maas, take us on a journey in the creative and challenging narrative.” – Helen Shaw (Time Out New York)
"Under Maas' sure direction, Welcome to the Woods turns out to be very welcome indeed." - Mark Peikert (NYpress.com)
“As directed by Erwin Maas and conducted by Jorge Parodi, Handel’s baroque opera ‘Alcina’ is no childish fantasy.” – CBS New York
“Director Erwin Maas explored how close theatre can be to film. With this production, he introduced a Quentin Tarantino style to the theatre. Maas was able to bring out the best in each actor. There is a perfect use of music, space, light and projection in this fascinating, exciting and powerfully directed evening of theatre. Bravo!” – Eindhovens Dagblad
"The kind of theater that makes actors want to be actors ... With great performances, an interesting and funny script and solid direction, this show is a winner! ... Maas has done a wonderful job!" - Darron Cardosa (Theatre is easy.com)
"Erwin Maas does it again! ... It is neither expected, nor easy to say the least, but Erwin Maas (33) from Nuenen does it again: he successfully directs a typical Dutch piece for the stage in Manhattan." - Eindhovens Dagblad
“An extraordinary piece of theater! Maas achieves a visual coup.” – Andy Propst (Backstage.com)
“I’d have gladly paid for seconds. How often do you get to see such good opera in your face?” – John Yohalem (Parterre Box)
“Promising director goes America ... Maas does it well internationally! He was admitted to all of the renowned programs of these prestigious schools” – NACEE / Fulbright Magazine
“Powerful work! Director Erwin Maas created a fantastic evening. Without a doubt, Maas and the actors show that De Lindespelers are alive and kicking.” – Eindhovens Dagblad
“The design elements of the play are beautifully executed. The metaphor is apt and the stylization of Maas’ staging encourages a broad interpretation.” – Maggie Cino (NYtheatre.com - Critic’s pick of the week)
“‘Four Americans and a Dutch guy’ have rebuilt a storage room of every level into a stage, important theatre elements are simply written on the wall.” – Berliner Morgenpost
“Young director Erwin Maas inspires youth to continue in theatre.” – Eindhovens Dagblad
"You simply have to love a story that feels like a fractured fairy tale and feels like reality at the same time. Maas’ staging of Welcome to the Woods returns a genre missed from the New York scene since the finale of Anne Hamburger’s En Garde Arts in 1999: site-specific theater." - Leonard Jacobs (The Clyde Fitch Report)
Amanda Seymour (Costume Designer) // Andrea Gastelum (Masks & Props Designer) // Danny Mikesz (Vocal Coach - Soprano) // Greg Emetaz (Lighting & Video Designer) // Irina Constantine Poulos (Choreographer) // Jeanette Yew (Lighting Designer) // Jian Jung (Set Designer) // Jorge Parodi (Conductor - Music Director) // Judith Adong (Playwright) // Katja Langenbach (Theatermaker - Dramaturg) // Kélina Gotman (Dramaturg - Theater Specialist) // Kyle Ritenauer (Conductor) // Laura Jellinek (Set Designer) // Liz Prince (Costume Designer) // Lucrecia Briceno (Lighting Designer) // Marscha de Haan (Choreographer) // Michael Haverty (Theatermaker - Puppeteer) // Mimi Lien (Set & Lighting Designer) // Nico de Rooij (Scenographer) // Nico Muhly (Composer) // Oana Botez (Costume Designer) // Paul Lomax (Photographer) // Rosalind Morris (Librettist - Writer) // Sam Forman (Playwright) // Saviana Stanescu (Playwright) // Scott Rozman (Career Coach & Writer) // Tim Cryan (Lighting Designer) // Yvette Christiansë (Librettist - Writer) // Zaid Jabri (Composer)
Atlantic Theater 2nd Stage // Carnegie Mellon University // Cherry Lane Theater // Columbia University SoA - Barnard College // The Connelly Theatre // CUNY Brooklyn College's Performance & Interactive Media Program (PIMA) // Fontys Academy for Dramatic Arts // HERE Arts Center // Kunsthochshule Berlin Weißensee // Manhattanville College's Theater & Dance Department // Ontological Hysteric Theater // Royal Conservatoire The Hague // Sanford Meisner Theater // de Theaterschool Amsterdam // Yale School of Drama