Amanda Shank

Amanda Shank

Amanda is a writer, artist, and educator based in Los Angeles, California. She is Associate Dean for the School of Theater at California Institute of the Arts (CalArts) and the Associate Artistic Director for CalArts Center for New Performance.

With a multidisciplinary practice rooted in the interplay between text, image and performance, Amanda has developed projects with CalArts Center for New...
Amanda is a writer, artist, and educator based in Los Angeles, California. She is Associate Dean for the School of Theater at California Institute of the Arts (CalArts) and the Associate Artistic Director for CalArts Center for New Performance.

With a multidisciplinary practice rooted in the interplay between text, image and performance, Amanda has developed projects with CalArts Center for New Performance, the National New Play Network, the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, the Henson Foundation, The Industry, Circle X Theatre, the Prototype Festival, and Los Angeles Performance Practice’s LAX Festival. She has presented work at venues such as the Ace Hotel DTLA, the Hammer Museum, Z Below and Automata Arts. As a playwright, her work has been published in the U.S. and translated internationally.

Selected scripts or bodies of work have been a recipient of the National New Play Network's Collaboration Fund (2016-17), finalist for the Sundance Theatre Lab in MENA (2016), the P73 Playwriting Fellowship (2015), a semi-finalist for the O'Neill Theater Center's National Playwrights Conference (2015), and have twice received an honorable mention for The Kilroys' THE LIST (2014, 2015).

Amanda received her BFA in Writing, Literature & Publishing from Emerson College and her MFA in Writing for Performance from CalArts.

Plays

  • The Glass Man
    One morning, Henry announces to his wife, Joyce, that he is leaving to go fight in the war, “to be a hero.” Henry secretly suspects they are the last two people alive, while Joyce is certain it’s just been a particularly long, rainy winter. Joyce refuses to be left behind in their tenuous, rotting home and what follows is a single morning that irrevocably ruptures their sense of safety, resilience and trust....
    One morning, Henry announces to his wife, Joyce, that he is leaving to go fight in the war, “to be a hero.” Henry secretly suspects they are the last two people alive, while Joyce is certain it’s just been a particularly long, rainy winter. Joyce refuses to be left behind in their tenuous, rotting home and what follows is a single morning that irrevocably ruptures their sense of safety, resilience and trust.

    THE GLASS MAN is a play about middle-aged companionship, a fragile man, and a mythologized war that wants only old men for fighting. It is an exploration of an old love and a tired world simultaneously dismantling into their final breaths.
  • Lulu
    LULU is an ongoing multi-platform performance project created in collaboration with Zoe Aja Moore and Liz Toonkel in partnership with a community of LA-based artists and performers including Heather Hewko, Megan Therese Rippey, Jennie Liu, Gracie DeVito and more.

    An episodic performance experience, LULU invites male-identified audiences into the bedrooms of women across Los Angeles in an...
    LULU is an ongoing multi-platform performance project created in collaboration with Zoe Aja Moore and Liz Toonkel in partnership with a community of LA-based artists and performers including Heather Hewko, Megan Therese Rippey, Jennie Liu, Gracie DeVito and more.

    An episodic performance experience, LULU invites male-identified audiences into the bedrooms of women across Los Angeles in an exploration of sexuality, intimacy and domestic locations. The project is an adaptation of the 1895 Frank Wedekind play of the same name, which was transformed into a film script and then distilled into episodic performances that were simultaneously autobiographical, pedestrian and theatrical. Each performance also functioned as a staged photo shoot, creating narrative photo-documentation that further explores the male gaze.

    LULU had a showing at the Ace Hotel DTLA as part of LAX Late Nights in September 2016. It then had its work-in-progress premiere as part of the 2017 LAX Festival.

    Please visit amandajaneshank.com/Lulu to view select photographic documentation.
  • The Fasting Girls
    "The weight of the soul, don’t you want to know?"

    A hundred years ago or more, sixteen-year-old Eva is engaged to a man nearly twice her age. As Eva struggles to come to terms with the reality of the fate that awaits her, she slips deeper and deeper into an unreal state—a ghostly, surreal place where she is able to survive on prayer alone.

    Using the language of puppets...
    "The weight of the soul, don’t you want to know?"

    A hundred years ago or more, sixteen-year-old Eva is engaged to a man nearly twice her age. As Eva struggles to come to terms with the reality of the fate that awaits her, she slips deeper and deeper into an unreal state—a ghostly, surreal place where she is able to survive on prayer alone.

    Using the language of puppets and performing objects, THE FASTING GIRLS is a poetic mediation on the phenomenon of 19th century girls who starved themselves as a form of prayer, social rebellion, and personal control. An exploration of the collision between religion and medicine, between the body and the soul, this multimedia production is a carnal and cinematic glimpse into one girl’s struggle against the inevitability of life.
  • BORROWED CITY, a performance in three places
    For nearly thirteen years I found myself in the midst of a love affair that refused to die. The relationship traversed three cities and improbable odds and its duration both defined and then dismantled not just my understanding of myself as a woman, but also a writer.

    Employing the tools of fiction, autobiography, play analysis, and cultural criticism in order to expand our definition of the...
    For nearly thirteen years I found myself in the midst of a love affair that refused to die. The relationship traversed three cities and improbable odds and its duration both defined and then dismantled not just my understanding of myself as a woman, but also a writer.

    Employing the tools of fiction, autobiography, play analysis, and cultural criticism in order to expand our definition of the script form, BORROWED CITY is both a performance score and a living record--a personal burial and a cultural reclamation.
  • Handful
    When the ashes of their recently deceased mother suddenly disappear, stoic and grief-stricken David suspects that his younger brother Michael is up to no good.
  • Prairie Fire
    A small town in a large expanse of prairie.
    A teenage girl with an itch to burn it all down.
    A family trapped in celebration.
    Two lovers from another place.

    A series of episodic, interlocking stories surrounding a wild fire that unexpectedly destroys a small, Midwestern town, PRAIRIE FIRE is an exploration of the intersection between femininity and violence and a meditation...
    A small town in a large expanse of prairie.
    A teenage girl with an itch to burn it all down.
    A family trapped in celebration.
    Two lovers from another place.

    A series of episodic, interlocking stories surrounding a wild fire that unexpectedly destroys a small, Midwestern town, PRAIRIE FIRE is an exploration of the intersection between femininity and violence and a meditation on the cinematic possibilities of the theatrical form.
  • Thirteen's Spring
    THIRTEEN’S SPRING is a playful, poetic adaptation of 'The Diary of Anne Frank' centering on the final days before the Franks went into hiding in the summer of 1942. At this time, Anne was not yet the Anne Frank of modern legend but simply a thirteen-year-old girl on the cusp of young love. Created in collaboration with Moving Art Collective and loosely based on Anne’s earliest diary entries, THIRTEEN’...
    THIRTEEN’S SPRING is a playful, poetic adaptation of 'The Diary of Anne Frank' centering on the final days before the Franks went into hiding in the summer of 1942. At this time, Anne was not yet the Anne Frank of modern legend but simply a thirteen-year-old girl on the cusp of young love. Created in collaboration with Moving Art Collective and loosely based on Anne’s earliest diary entries, THIRTEEN’S SPRING renders Anne Frank through a contemporary sensibility full of humor, magic, and surprise.
  • Rabbit in the Blue
    RABBIT IN THE BLUE is a vivid, intimate tale that explores the mysterious reappearance of twenty-year-old Daniel in the lonesome fields surrounding his childhood home.  Assumed by his family to be lost many years earlier, Daniel’s return unleashes a series of strange events and devastating consequences.

    While Daniel’s parents and younger sister grapple with his sudden return, Daniel is haunted by...
    RABBIT IN THE BLUE is a vivid, intimate tale that explores the mysterious reappearance of twenty-year-old Daniel in the lonesome fields surrounding his childhood home.  Assumed by his family to be lost many years earlier, Daniel’s return unleashes a series of strange events and devastating consequences.

    While Daniel’s parents and younger sister grapple with his sudden return, Daniel is haunted by his first love, Laura.  Stuck within his old childhood bedroom, Daniel races through a series of pungent, lustful and increasingly violent memories of Laura.  As Daniel’s family struggles to understand where he’s been, Daniel attempts to piece together his chaotic past and the tragic circumstances that brought him home.

    Set in an isolated, mythic interpretation of the 1930s American Midwest, RABBIT IN THE BLUE explores the intersection between modernity and nostalgia, desire and violence, and the vanishing distinction between what is real and what is imagined.