Griffith (right) as Ophelia in The Rogue Theatre's Hamlet.
Photo credit: Tim Fuller
By Elizabeth Labiner
Holly Griffith knew soon after arriving in Tucson that she wouldn’t be following what might be considered a typical path for a graduate student in English literature. While still working on her MA, which she earned in 2015, Griffith began volunteering as an usher and a dramaturg -- a type of literary consultant at a theatre -- at The Rogue Theatre. Today, she’s a resident actor at The Rogue and an artistic associate at The Scoundrel and Scamp Theatre. “I really just worked my way up,” she says. “I got a job in The Rogue box office, then auditioned for the company, then was added as a permanent member of the resident company. I eventually got a job at Scoundrel and Scamp as well because I had worked with the artistic director before, and he reached out to me for advice and collaboration opportunities.”
Working her way up has also meant adding to her breadth of experience at every opportunity, Griffith explains:
I work as an actor year-round at The Rogue, appearing in many of their mainstage productions. I also produce a series of staged readings at The Rogue and work part-time in the box office. At The Scoundrel & Scamp Theatre, I advise the Artistic Directors on matters of programming, personnel, mission, and branding. I also direct productions, teach classes for children, and work in the box office.
Griffith’s description of her work hardly does it justice. She has starred in plays ranging from Simon Stephens’ adaptation of Mark Haddon’s novel The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time to William Shakespeare’s Much Ado About Nothing, and directed Brian Friel’s Lovers and Finegan Kruckemeyer’s This Girl Laughs, This Girl Cries, This Girl Does Nothing. Her directorial work was nominated for a total of six Mac Awards by the Arizona Daily Star in 2018, including Best Drama and Best Director for both productions. She was also nominated for Best Actress in a Drama as “C” in Three Tall Women, a category in which she was nominated previously in both 2017 and 2016.
Griffith credits her scholarly work as critical to her ability to analyze complex characters, scenes, and circumstances, and her experience as a graduate assistant in teaching (GAT) as equally important in her directorial work, in which she must have command of a room, give clear instructions, manage multiple projects, and work under deadlines. Additionally, she notes, her broad literary background helps her mentally flesh out characters, gives historical and cultural context, and provides points of comparison for her work.
In addition to her roles as actor and director, Griffith teaches acting classes and writes for the performing arts publication Taming of the Review. These projects all feed her love of the mental and kinesthetic creative process, collaboration, and artistic output. She doesn’t see herself stopping anytime soon, if ever: “I want to continue to work for small professional theatre companies that do challenging, important work. I want to continue acting and directing, and might like to eventually work in arts administration.”