Quick Chats: Kailey Azure Green

Posted July 19, 2022 By Erin Milleville

Quick Chat Graphic Kailey Azure Green

APT's Quick Chat Series is a chance to get to know the folks around APT. This week we talk to Kailey Azure Green, Assistant Director, Choreographer and Intimacy Choreographer on The Rivals, about all things movement, storytelling and the best songs to sing at karaoke.

This is Kailey's first summer in the Woods. Based out of Washington DC, Kailey works as an actor, intimacy choreographer, fight director, choreographer, artistic director, and is as an Assistant Faculty member and Executive Assistant at Theatrical Intimacy Education. They are a multi-talented artist and educator and we're so glad they could join us this summer. Kailey is a non-binary artist and uses they/them pronouns.

APT: This is your first season at APT! How has your summer been going?
Kailey Azure Green:
It’s been absolutely wonderful! It’s been really fun to be the first show to open in the season, because we were able to open The Rivals and I’ve been able to just enjoy all the other openings, and support people through their techs, and everything like that.

It’s my first time in Spring Green! Getting familiar with people like Jen at Arcadia Books and everyone at Slowpoke, and just getting to know this delightful town has been such a joy. You run into all your friends in town and then you all hike up the Hill and see each other at work. It’s been a really cool environment to be a part of, and before coming here I thought it might be a little isolating. But, really, it’s a community.

APT: You are an artist of many talents - actor, intimacy choreographer, fight director, choreographer, administrator, assistant director. Can you share a little bit about your career journey so far?
Kailey Azure Green: Yes! I started as a dancer. I started dancing when I was 7 years old with a pretty prestigious studio in Utah. Growing up, I attended lots of dance competitions and conventions. I wanted to be a ballerina until I was like 14 or 15 years old. But then that shifted.

That’s when I started getting more involved in stuff in high school. Some choir friends got me involved in the musical. My first musical was Crazy for You, and it was also the first musical I ever choreographed which was a lot! It was also my first supporting role.

From there, I wasn’t sure theatre was what I really wanted to do. I did a brief stint at Disney, and then came back and decided “I want to do theatre.” I ended up getting into the BFA Musical Theatre program at Utah Valley University, and because of my dance background I started to get involved with student productions to do movement or choreography. I choreographed Cabaret for our mainstage show senior year.

Around that same time, I was getting a little disenchanted with musical theatre and started getting a lot more involved with other aspects of choreography. During senior year I also started exploring more Shakespeare and I actually ended up with an internship in California with Santa Cruz Shakespeare. From there, I was connected with a fight director who helped me get a scholarship to my first fight workshop. I started training with Dueling Arts International a couple of years ago, and recently when I moved to D.C. I’ve been getting more involved with the SOAFD (Society of American Fight Directors).

From the internship in Santa Cruz, I learned about intimacy choreography. I connected with Theatrical Intimacy Education around 2019. I interned with them, then became the Administrative Assistant, now Executive Assistant and Assistant Faculty as well.

I’m very, very passionate about movement and how bodies move onstage. I think I have a skill and a talent to help people know how to move, and I’ve just been acquiring new skills and stepping into new environments that challenge me as a choreographer. On top of all that, continuing acting - doing some music theatre every now and then, but really diving into Shakespeare in recent years.

There’s my long-winded answer of my whole career!

APT: What’s something that most people would be surprised to learn about the process of intimacy choreography? How does that compare to fight directing?
Kailey Azure Green:
For me and what I’ve heard from other people, whether they don’t know about intimacy or if they’ve worked with different choreographers, it’s that I am personally not the “touch police.” I am there to provide a vocabulary to build consent and boundaries in the room.

One thing I’m very passionate about is being able to set up that vocab at the beginning of the rehearsal process: doing a boundary establishment exercise, setting the vocabulary of fences and gates, all these things. That way when we are in a scene, we’ve already talked about what those boundaries are. I can build that with folks and I can provide vocabulary, but I’m not going in and telling these actors who have worked together for decades the "correct" way to be intimate onstage.

I feel like my intimacy choreography work has expanded my understanding of fight directing. I have more vocab. With fight direction, we focus more on the weapons - the blades, the parries, the movement - and figure out how the tools work with bodies. But with intimacy choreography, especially the company I work for, Theatrical Intimacy Education, we’ve developed these five choreography tools, working with things like weight, levels and touch, and vocalization. I’ve been able to take these elements and apply them to fight direction. That way, if we’re working on a grappling moment, I can identify it as a “Level 3” touch, or a “Bone-Level” touch.

Something I do feel passionate about is that intimacy is not a special skill. Intimacy is in all of our lives - from sex, to a hug, to a kiss on the cheek - that’s something that we interact with daily. Being able to perform a fight or being able to do a triple pirouette on stage in my mind are more of “special skills.” Intimacy is something we already know. Anyone can perform intimacy, so the directing has more to do with how best to tell a story and work with these performers.

APT: The Rivals is a comedy written in 1775. How has your experience working as an assistant director and actor on the show been in keeping an older work feeling so fresh?
Kailey Azure Green:
Even from the first read, it didn’t feel that old. Just the vocabulary, the jokes, these characters - it didn’t feel foreign, I understood it and I connected to it. I understood Faukland’s anxiety and Julia’s love and Lydia and Jack’s passion and love of life. In the same way that when we see Shakespeare or other older works, it’s a lovely reminder of how humans have been humans forever. We connect.

For The Rivals, there were moments or words that were changed to be better on the ear of a contemporary audience. Sometimes it would be straightening-out language to more clearly understand a moment, or rearranging the end of the play to have a bit more of a “Huzzah!” moment. Basically, it was about finding the right word for the moment that we all can understand. It was delightfully surprising.

APT: What do you like to do in your free time?
Kailey Azure Green: A lot of my free time is not necessarily “free.” My position as Executive Assistant at Theatrical Intimacy Education keeps me busy! I take care of emails, reservations, scholarships, communications, and workshops to name a few. So that’s a good deal of my day-to-day life.

But! When I get to enjoy time off, I really love to read. I’m working through The Priory of the Orange Tree, which is a big, fat, Sapphic novel with dragons. I also love music. I listen to a lot of alternative and some newer alt-rock artists, like Hot Milk, Meet Me @ the Alter, or Stand Atlantic. Right now, I love listening to a lot of 70's and 80’s alternative rock, like Fleetwood Mac, Bon Jovi, and Boston. Stuff I grew up listening to with my dad.

APT: You have to sing karaoke: what song do you pick?
Kailey Azure Green: I’m singing “Sweet as Whole” by Sara Bareilles. No one knows this song! It’s a personal favorite. It's always a fun surprise at karaoke.

APT: Anything else you’d like to share?
Kailey Azure Green: To all those genderqueer people out there, or Queer people in general - I love you and I’m here for you. To quote a freely inspired genderqueer version of As You Like It titled ‘Arden’ by Ezra Brain:

“And I charge you
O those of us that are both and neither and whatever it is we want to be,
To continue
To persitst
To live.”