Women in the Arts 2019: Director Strange

Holly Payne-Strange hails from the United Kingdom but is currently a proud New Yorker.

She is a nationally ranked sailor (Townies, 2015) and adept at lucid dreaming.

In addition to being a milliner, she is also an origami artist and has made over 2,500 paper cranes to date!

She volunteers at GallopNYC, a stables dedicated to helping people with disabilities learn to ride horses, where she also planted their garden.

She is also proud to be the director of youth outreach at the Aldo Tambellini foundation.


It is obvious that Holly brings unique diversity to all the plays she directs. She has teamed with Anthony J. Piccione again for A Therapy Session with Myself, Piccione’s semi-autobiographical tome about a young man with mental illness forced to literally confront himself to help in his recovery.

Considering her British origin, our discussion of what its like to be a female director in NY has as much uniqueness as the speaker, herself.


Tell us about your journey as a director in New York

Well, my first experience directing in NYC was  at the Players Theatre Short Play Festival. That was about five years ago. Since then, I’ve done a lot of festivals, a lot of indie stuff, and once every couple of years I self produce something. I love having total creative control, but I can’t do it often- it can be a very stressful process. Generally I’ve found my niche in plays about mental health- I’ve worked on shows about anxiety, depression, schizophrenia, and psychopathy, among other concerns. I think that’s because I love playing with perspective, and am fascinated by how the same thing can mean different things to different people.


You and Anthony have worked together often – tell us about your arts partnership?

Yes, Antony and I have worked together a few times now.  At first on his children’s play “Energy Tale” at the Midtown international Theater Festival. I was really proud of the work I did on that, it was a pleasure to direct non-human characters, there was a lot of creative license with it. I’ve also been able to work with Anthony closely  A Therapy Session With Myself. This alone has been a long process, about seven months so far and still going. It’s been great to be able to develop a creative relationship with someone.

Do you plan to be hands-on for the entire run or do you foresee yourself “letting go.”

This is something Anthony and I have talked about a lot. Eventually, I do foresee myself letting go. I don’t know when that is exactly, but I do know life as a creative in NYC is exciting, but very chaotic, and i can’t commit very far in advance. But I am proud of my work on A Therapy Session With Myself, and im very proud of the awesome cast and crew behind it.

As an artist, and a woman, how has “reality” of working in New York differed from your original expectations?

Well when I came here, I started out as an actor and now I’m a director and writer, so in that sense, it’s very different from what I expected. But really, I don’t think I had many expectations when I arrived in NYC. I planned on spending the first year in school, making as many connections as possible and seeing what happened, and that’s what I did. It’s taken me in a lot of different directions, and I’ve developed myself as a creative in ways I didn’t expect (for instance, recently I had a visual art exhibit on governors island), but I think that allowed me to be open to new experiences and try a lot of new things.

What are future plans … new shows? being a producer, artistic director, etc

A play I wrote Perfect For Me is currently performing, and I’m very proud of it! It’s about the real life science and ethics behind head transplants,a  procedure which is currently being developed. It explores disability, LGBT rights, and developing technology.

Its touring different locations throughout the month. Mainly very small, intimate spaces. I’m excited to be able to connect with very small audiences and what you can do outside of a proscenium stage. For more information and tickets, please see our website https://hollypstrange.wixsite.com/perfectforme

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