Monica Payne | Bio

Monica Payne is a theatre and film director, whose work intersects bold physicality, deep emotion, and collective ritual. She is the founder of Theatre Lumina, an ensemble devoted to cross-cultural collaboration and international exchange.

Her projects include devised work, literary adaptations, new plays, and the occasional music video! Her most recent piece, Ritual, premiered in New Orleans in May of 2023. Payne has directed throughout the U.S., including New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, New Orleans, and Pittsburgh and her devised work, Song of Home, toured to Eastern Europe just weeks before the Covid lockdown. She is a Resident Director at Trap Door Theatre (Chicago) and is a member of SDC, The Lincoln Center Director’s Lab, and Director’s Lab West. Previously an actress, she has worked with many prestigious ensembles, including Steppenwolf Theatre Company.

Payne holds an MFA in Directing from the UCLA School of Theatre, Film, and Television, and has been a Meisner-based acting teacher for many years. She has taught for The School at Steppenwolf, Steppenwolf Classes West, The Latino Theatre Company, The Robert Mello Studio, The Artistic Home, and her own studios in L.A. and Chicago. At the college level, she has taught at UCLA, Carnegie Mellon, and Point Park University, where she also served as the Head of Graduate Acting.  She is currently an Assistant Professor at Tulane University (New Orleans), where she also serves as Head of Directing. She teaches classes for the Theatre and Dance Department, as well as Digital Media Practices.

Upcoming projects include a short film called Mimi, currently in post-production.