Brenda L Huggins is a stage director, dramaturg, and designer working in opera and puppetry. With a deep interest in new works, Brenda has directed many workshops, premieres and new productions of contemporary opera and theater works including The Clever Artifice of Harriet and Margaret by Leanna Kirchoff (2019), An Embarrassing Position by Dan Shore (2016), 334 Bunnies by Francine Trester (2012) at the Longy School of Music, The Rough Faced Girl, a touring children’s opera (2012), Three Women And a Bear at the Boston Playwrights’ Theatre (2010), The Misery Play at Puppet Showplace Theater (2011), both by Lialia Chepulite, and a workshop of a new play in iambic, Cupid and Psyche by Emily C. A. Snyder, at Emerson College (2009).
Brenda made her NYC directing debut with Cantanti Project’s production of Teseo: Medea at the Abrons Center for the Arts (2019.) As the resident stage director with Opera del West in the Boston area from 2014-2017, Brenda created intimate productions of classical and contemporary opera works including Le Portrait de Manon (2017), Signor Deluso (2017), Don Pasquale (2016), Le nozze di Figaro (2015), and The Seagull (2014).
As an Assistant Director, Ms. Huggins has worked with the Connecticut Early Music Festival, Commonwealth Opera, Lowell House Opera, and the Boston Opera Collaborative serving as an acting and puppetry coach.
Brenda is currently the Resident Dramaturg with Guerilla Opera in Boston, MA supporting the development of new works in the inaugural Emergence Composition Fellowship program. Additional dramaturgical projects include Unwrapping Fortune by NYC based composer and librettist, Alicia Lieu (upcoming, 2020) the first workshop of Ghost Variations with OperaRox Productions (2018) at the National Opera Center, the New England Russian Theater Festival at the Boston Playwright’s Theatre (2010), Lucia di Lammermoor with Commonwealth Opera in Northampton, MA (2009), and Serse with Boston Conservatory (2008).
Brenda trained in shadow puppetry, varied styles of hand puppetry, giant puppetry, puppets for film, and Toy Theater at Puppet Showplace Theater in Brookline, MA from 2010-2013. Since 2011, Brenda has developed and performed a series of short cabaret-style puppet slam works at the Puppet Showplace Theater Slam. In 2013, Brenda developed, produced and directed a puppetry instillation, Beautiful Nightmare with a new music score by Derek Waldron as part of the Fringe Festival at the National Puppetry Festival in Swarthmore, PA in addition to teaching a professional workshop on character voice performance techniques. In 2015, Brenda was commissioned by Juventas New Music Ensemble to develop a new puppetry work bringing to life Stockhausen’s percussion opera, “Nasenflugeltanz” as part of the NEA Funded, Music in Motion program at the American Repertory Theatre’s Club Oberon in Cambridge, MA.
Ms. Huggins is also a passionate teaching artist and arts curriculum developer with an M.A. in Theatre Education from Emerson College with a specialty in Creative Youth Development. She currently serves on the board of a Brooklyn based grassroots non-profit, Vocal Village whose mission is to empower people of color by amplifying the contributions artists of color have made to the art form of opera. Brenda has held artist residencies in shadow puppetry at the Josiah Quincy Elementary School, Boston MA (2012-2014) and at the Lesley Ellis Elementary and Middle School in Arlington, MA (2014-2015) Brenda has also taught summer youth puppetry intensives at the Wheelock Family Theater (2012-2014) and Puppet Showplace Theater (2012-2015).
As a creator of new work for youth audiences, Brenda was commissioned by Puppet Showplace Theater in 2012 with co-creator Philip Berman to develop a series of interactive puppetry performances with live music for the very young, Puppet Playtime was performed in residence from 2013-2016 and performed on tour across the East Coast including the Cambridge River Fest, Outside the Box Festival, Lawn on D, Boston Children's Museum, Boston First Night, Brookline First Light, Boston Public Library, and many schools and private venues.
As an adjunct faculty member, Ms. Huggins taught puppetry and arts education techniques at the Urban College of Boston from 2016-2017, and served as the Learning and Leadership Manager at OPERA America in NYC, creating professional development experiences for arts education leaders in the opera field from 2017-2019.