BiographyRob Urbinati received an M.A. from the University of Nebraska and a Ph.D. from the University of Oregon, and has directed over fifty plays at theatres across the country. Rob served as Theatre Consultant for Home Box Office, developed various projects for Disney Creative Entertainment, served on the Lark Play Development Center’s Playwrights Week Selection Committee, and contributed material for “Breaking the Silence, Beating the Drum,” the International Day of Remembrance of the Victims of Slavery at the United Nations in New York City. He has presented Playwriting and Directing workshops at various Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festivals.
Rob Urbinati is a freelance Director and Playwright based in New York City. In NYC, Rob has directed many world premieres including Staceyann Chin’s Border/Clash for the Culture Project, Al Letson’s Summer in Sanctuary, James Armstrong’s Foggy Bottom and Jan Buttram’s The President and Her Mistress at the Abingdon, Eric Bogosian’s Griller for Lincoln Center Directors Lab, Kirk Bromley’s Syndrome at the Greenwich St. Theatre, Bromley and Jessica Grace Wing’s Lost for the New York Fringe Festival, Bromley’s Syndrome at the Greenwich Street Theatre, and Anne DeSalvo’s Mamma Roma at the Cherry Lane. He also directed Suzan-Lori Parks’ 365 Days/365 Plays at Queens Theatre and the Public Theatre, and Mira Spektor and Colette Inez’s Villa Diodati for the New York Music Theatre Festival and the York Theatre, Maria Irene Fornes’ Springtime at HERE, Pirandello’s The Man With the Flower in His Mouth for Classic Stage Company, and Angel Street at the Pearl Theatre.
Rob has enjoyed a continuing association with the Drama League since receiving a Directing Fellowship from that organization. He has served on the Drama League Nominating Committee, the Selection Committee for the Fall Directors Program, the Summer Directors Program and the New Directors/New Works Program. For the Drama League, he directed William Inge’s The Boy in the Basement at Westbeth, Max Sparber’s Cruelties at Pace University, Tom Grady’s Global Village for their New American Plays Initiative and Max Sparber’s The Older Gentleman as part of the Vital Drama League Alumnifest. He wrote the Drama League Benefit honoring James Earl Jones in February 2015, and is writing the Drama League Centennial Benefit honoring Bernadette Peters in November 2015.
Rob directed Kirk Smith’s Deluge at Concordia College, Dale Wasserman’s One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest at the University of Oregon, Lillian Hellman’s The Children’s Hour at Bloomsburg University, Maxwell Anderson’s Bad Seed at Doane College and LaGuardia Community College, Death By Design: A Comedy With Songs and Murder andJohn Guare’s Landscape of the Body. He directed Shakespeare’s The Winter’s Tale at the University of Nebraska and Bloomsburg University, As Bees in Honey Drown and Columbinus at Clark University and Jeff Whitty’s Suicide Weather at New York University.
Rob is Director of New Play Development at Queens Theatre, where he curates New American Voices (formerly Immigrant Voices Project), a new play program which develops plays by writers who represent the diverse demographic of New York City. IVP/NAV has presented over fifty readings, workshops, full productions and co-productions including Andy Bragen’s Greater Messapia; Qui Nguyen’s Trial By Water (co-produced with Ma-Yi Theatre Company); Javon Johnson’s Breathe, Kristoffer Diaz’ Welcome to Arroyo’s, and Rajiv Joseph’s Bengal Tiger at the Baghdad Zoo (all produced in association with Lark Play Development Center); Javier Malpica’s Our Dad is in Atlantis (co-produced with Working Theatre), which was published in August 2008 American Theatre Magazine; Aaron Jafferis and Ian Williams’ Kingdom, (co-produced with The Public Theatre), Jeff Hughes and Scott Either’s Rosa Parks (co-produced with Playwrights Horizons), Kitty Chen’s Rosa Loses Her Face (co-produced in association with Electric Theatre Company) and Henry Ong’s Sweet Karma (co-produced with Immigrants’ Theatre Company), among others.
At Queens Theatre, he has directed many plays including Marry Me A Little with Brent Barrett and Sally Mayes, Angel Street, Over the River and Through the Woods, Master Class and Max Sparber’s Minstrel Show or The Lynching of William Brown, which he then directed at the Connelly Theatre in Manhattan, the Andy Warhol Museum in Pittsburg, New Jersey Repertory Company and Theatreworks in Colorado. Also at Theatreworks, Rob directed Kiss Me, Kate with Robert Westenberg and Kim Crosby, and his adaptation of Cole Porter’s Nymph Errant (Best Musical, Denver Post). In Nebraska, he directed Minstrel Show, Cruelties and Chelsea: From A to B and Back, and his adaptation of Toxic Avenger at the Blue Barn Theatre, The Merchant of Venice and The Tempest for Nebraska Shakespeare Festival, The 39 Steps and Mrs. Mannerly at Nebraska Repertory Theatre, and Disney’s High School Musical, Diary of a Worm, How I Became A Pirate, Pete the Cat and the national tours of Worm and Pirate for the Rose Theatre (The Omaha Theater Company for Young People).
Rob’s first play as a writer, Hazelwood Jr. High, based on the murder of Shanda Sharer, was directed by Scott Elliott for the New Group, starring Chloe Sevigny. A scene from the play is published in Smith & Kraus’s “Best Stage Scenes 2000,” and the play is published by Samuel French. Rob curated Lunatics & Lovers: A Strindberg Salon for the Culture Project, and his adaptation of Miss Julie in Hollywood, which was part of that event, transferred to the 78th Street Theatre Lab. His adaptation of Mary McCarthy’s short story, Cruel & Barbarous Treatment, premiered at the Culture Project, and transferred to Israel Horowitz’ Gloucester Stage Company in Massachusetts.
Rob’s play, Karaoke Night at the Suicide Shack, and his musical, The Queen Bees, based on the sixties girl group, both premiered at Queens Theatre. Rebel Voices, his adaptation of Howard Zinn and Anthony Arnove’s “Voices of a People’s History of the United States” premiered at the Culture Project with a rotating cast including Staceyann Chin, Wallace Shawn, Danny Glover, Steve Earle, Lili Taylor, Lenelle Moïse and Rich Robinson. His play, West Moon Street, based on a novella by Oscar Wilde, was produced by the Prospect Theatre Company in New York. Death by Design was commissioned by Houston Family Arts Center, where it premiered in 2011. Hazelwood Jr. High, West Moon Street, Death By Design and a new version of Death By Design, with songs by Peter Mills, have been published by Samuel French. His adaptation of Cole Porter’s Nymph Errant premiered Off-Broadway in July 2012. Rebel Voices, The Queen Bees and Nymph Errant will be published by Samuel French in 2016. His play UMW was commissioned by Linfield College in Oregon, where it premiered in March 2013. His plays have received over one hundred productions world-wide. His book, Play Readings: A Complete Guide for Theatre Practitioners was published by Focal Press/Routledge in October 2015.
Areas of Research / Professional Expertise
Theatre, Books, Music, Film