MELODY BROOKS was an actor for more than 35 years, and has been producing and directing in New York City since 1983. In 1991, Ms. Brooks formed the New Perspectives Theatre Company and serves as the company's Artistic Director and CEO. Its mission and goals are a result of her long experience working in the Off- and Off-Off Broadway arenas.
Ms. Brooks was formerly a program officer with the Academy for Educational Development, previously worked at Bank Street College of Education, and was Adjunct Assistant Professor of Theatre at Long Island University/Brooklyn for ten years. The work of NPTC merges her artistic and educational backgrounds.
She is on the Board of Directors of the League of Professional Theatre Women,and a member of the LPTW Heritage Program and Co-chair of the triennial Gilder/Coigney International Theatre Award for 2014 and 2017. Brooks co-founded 50/50 in 2020: Parity for Women Theatre Artists in 2009 and continues to be involved in various initiatives that have grown out of that movement and which focus on reclaiming the heritage of women in theatre. Most recently she has partnered with theatre historian Mari Lyn Henry on STAGE STRUCK, serving as director and dramaturg for performances featuring actresses from the past, written using their own words and on SUFFRAGISTS FROM THE STAGE, a series of presentations on theatre women who were major forces in securing the 19th Amendment. Brooks was honored in 2018 as a "Trailblazing Woman of Theatre for Artistry & Vision" by Rhythm Color Associates.In 2015 she received the Spirit of Hope Award from Speranza Theatre Company for her more than 25-year track record of supporting women theatre artists and was named a "Person of the Year" in 2009 by NYTheatre.com as a co-founder of 50/50 in 2020.
For NPTC, Brooks oversees the artistic output of the company, and creates and directs new projects that address its mission. She created and oversees the Women’s Work LAB, responsible for the development of short and full-length plays by 12 -15 members per year; she is also executive producer ofand a regular director/dramaturg for ON HER SHOULDERS, which presents female playwrights from the past 1000 years in staged readings with scholarly playbills at the New School.
As part of these programs she has developed and directed a number original scripts notably MOTHER OF GOD!by Michele Miller,a Princess Grace Foundation Finalist that revisits the story of Mary from a Jewish (and irreverant perspective);Exhibit #9by Tracey Scott Wilson, (co-directed with Celia Braxton) a satire on the African-American Experience (AUDELCO Award); Jihad, The Play by Ann Chamberlin, a mystical examination of the influence of gender and religion in war (OOBR Award); and Anatomy of a Love Affairby Deirdre Hollman, an intense look at an interracial relationship ending after eight years (optioned by Essence Entertainment).
Other developmental directing credits for NPTC include Everyday Somewhere Here: Letters From Palestine and Israel,a multi-media piece created in collaboration with Benji Rgoers and based on his travels to the region, Finding Home by Keline Adams, which was presented as a work-in-progress in NPTC's Voices From the Edge Festival, starring Marcella Lowery (of The Cosby Show); Untitled and Unfinished, written and performed by Yolanda Wilkinson and presented at NPTC and the Downtown Urban Theatre Festival; Touchscape, written and performed by James Scruggs for the Queer at HERE Festival and Voices From the Edge; and Chewin' da Fat on Life, a work-in-progress by OBIE-Award winner Stephanie Berry.
Brooks has also directed many of NPTC's innovative classic productions, including a multi-media Hamletbased on research proposing that the script parallels the Book of Revelation. With Vebeke Lunn Fazakerley of Primary Sauces in London, she created a unique production of Macbeththat included an authentic medieval banquet as a central part of the action. The production was performed at Cathedral Church of St. John the Divine, Washington Square Methodist Church and NPTC. She has also directed Romeo & Juliet, Julius Caesar, Othello,The Two Gentlemen of Verona, Miss Julie, and the NY premiere of Vaclev Havel's The Increased Difficulty of Concentration.In addition, she served as dramaturg and co-director on NPTC's OOBR award-winning production of The Taming of the Shrew.
Most recent (non NPTC) directing credits includeHouse Of Desiresby Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz for The School of Drama at the New School/BFA Program, two Theatre Brut short play festivals and a Ferber Festival at New Jersey Rep.
She takes a lead role in the creation and implementation of NPTC's Youth & Community Programs repertoire, developing the Shakespeare Made Simpleprogram and co-creating World Voiceswith award-winning playwright Rick Balian. She lead a 4-year residency at School for Classicsin East New York, Brooklyn, a high school which NPTC helped create in 2009, developing an academically rigorous four-year theatre curriculum and presenting annual student Shakespeare productions.
Brooks began acting in an Upstate New York theatre company when she was a child, touring playgrounds, schools and the New York State Fair throughout the summers, and performing in the company's permanent space during the remainder of the year. This early training and exposure to all aspects of theatre production played an important role in her development as a theatre professional and as a person, and forms the basis of her commitment to extending the benefits of theatre as a positive influence to young people and communities in need.
Her acting credits are varied and diverse. She has performed extensively with NPTC's Shakespeare Made Simple program, received critical acclaim opposite Austin Pendleton in NPTC's production of Richard IIIin the role of Queen Elizabeth, and played Lady Macbeth among other roles for NPTC's mainstage. In 1991, she performed in a production of Oedipus, Rexat Epidaurus, Greece,which marked the first ever appearance of American actors in the history of the 2,500-year-old theatre. She also appeared at theEdinburgh International Theatre Festival in Temporary Lucidity, a critically acclaimed series of one-acts by playwright Rick Balian, which she co-produced.
Previously Brooks served as an Associate Producer for the NY Musical Theatre Festival (NYMF) coordinating seminars and master classes in NYMF '06. She works periodically as a non-profit management consultant (including for the NYS Council on the Arts); and teaches/coaches upon request.