Jessica Thebus is a theater artist, director, educator, wife, daughter, and mother. She holds a PhD in Performance Studies from Northwestern University, and is currently Director of the Northwestern MFA Program in Directing for the Stage.
She has directed and adapted plays in Chicago and nationally for twenty years, and has deep associations with many Chicago theaters. Among these are Steppenwolf Theater Company where she directed four large spectacle evenings at Millenium Park, the plays Sex With Strangers by Laura Eason, Intimate Apparel by Lynn Nottage, Dead Man’s Cell Phone by Sarah Ruhl, When the Messenger Is Hot by Laura Eason, No Place Like Home devised by the company, Lady Madeline by Mickle Maher, Sonia Flew by Melinda Lopez, and the Youth Theater program (1998–2001). Northlight Theater is also an artistic home for Jessica where she has directed six plays and where she recently adapted and directed Shining Lives: a Musical which received a Joseph Jefferson award nomination for best new work. Jessica has also worked often at the Goodman Theatre, (most recently directing Buzzer by Tracey Scott Wilson, and previously both The Clean House and the world premiere of Stage Kiss by Sarah Ruhl) and Lookingglass Theater Company (In The Garden, a Darwinian Love Story by Sarah Gmitter, All Fall Down adapted from Richard Cahan’s book, and Our Town by Thornton Wilder).
Her ongoing project A Persephone Pageant is an interactive, family-friendly performance weaving together mythic tales of nature gods and true stories of environmental justice.
Favorite other projects in Chicago include: Richard III at The Gift Theater, The Turn Of The Screw by Jeffrey Hatcher at Writer’s Theater, SALAO: The Worst Kind Of Unlucky and The Feast (Jeff award nomination for best new work) at Redmoon Theater, LATE : A Cowboy Song by Sarah Ruhl and Abingdon Square by Maria Irene Fornes at the Piven Theater, as well as the Joseph Jefferson award-winning plays Pulp by Pat Kane and Winesburg, Ohio adapted by Eric Rosen at About Face Theatre.
Favorite projects nationally include: As You Like It at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival, Civil War Christmas by Paula Vogel at The Huntington Theatre, Harriet Jacobs by Lydia Diamond at Kansas City Repertory Theatre, The Oldest Boy by Sarah Ruhl at The Marin Theater Company, as well as the Oregon Shakespeare Festival’s world premiere of Welcome Home, Jenny Sutter by Julie Marie Myatt, which then moved to the Kennedy Center in Washington, DC. Jessica lives in Chicago with her husband David, her daughter Willa Marie, and dogs Masha and Lucy.