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Meet The Director Of Urban Aphrodite International, Ann James
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Meet The Director Of Urban Aphrodite International, Ann James

Picture of Daniel Rechtschaffen
Updated: 7 December 2016
Urban Aphrodite International is an international theater production company based in Shanghai. The founding director, Ann James, has more than 20 years of experience in theater and has directed over 70 plays.
"Sassy Ann" | Courtesy of Ann James
“Sassy Ann” | Courtesy of Ann James

How did you get started in theater?

My mom was searching for ways for me to gain more confidence and be less shy when I was really little. She put me in a dance class which eventually led to me being a Children’s Corps member of a professional ballet company. Dance led me to theater performance and the rest, as they say, is history. That was over 30 years ago.

What led to the launching of Urban Aphrodite International?

I had a few fledgling theater companies in my hometown of Houston. At one point I produced an erotica show for a woman called Urban Aphrodite. It was a huge success and we brought it back the following year. After leaving Texas and living in NYC and Sudan, I decided to move to Amsterdam and form a theater company, Urban Aphrodite International, to keep the name of that amazing show alive. Here it is almost 6 years later and still going strong.

What advice would you give to someone who was trying to break into the performance industry (as either an actor or a producer)?

Get involved in a local group whose work you admire. Sort nails, paint flats, volunteer! Any group worth its salt will be happy to have you. Then you can ask questions and perhaps work hand in hand with a staff member who does what you are interested in pursuing. Being around and getting your hands dirty counts for a lot.

Hay Fever | Courtesy of Ann James
Hay Fever | Courtesy of Ann James

What is the most novel or unusual performance that you’ve put on with Urban Aphrodite?

It has got to be either the erotica show we produced in Amsterdam or the Suzuki* movement based original adaptation of The Little Prince we performed in Edinburgh at the Fringe Festival.

*The Suzuki method of acting is a style of physical theater which draws on martial arts and physical exertion.

What’s next for Urban Aphrodite?

We are experimenting with some new brands and will continue to produce award winning plays and film adaptations for the stage. We’ve got amazing adaptations of The 39 Steps and The Princess Bride coming up in spring 2016.

What is the most memorable moment from your career?

Gosh, there have been so many incredible moments! Performing for 1000 people in a one woman show and being able to hear a pin drop because they were so into the performance. It was a magical moment. The opening night of my production of The Cherry Orchard in an amphitheater in Sudan was another good one. I also remember getting the registration paper for my company in Shanghai after a year-long process… best feeling ever!

Courtesy of Ann James
Courtesy of Ann James

If you could only bring three things to a desert island, what would they be?

The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (large print in case I get old), a musical instrument, like a flute, and a Samurai sword.

If you could have dinner with anyone in the world, dead or alive, who would it be?

It would probably be my great-great-great grandparents on both sides of my family. I imagine they were pretty strong people to live through slavery and the oppression of Native Americans, so I’d like to break bread with them and know what their lives were like, the good and the bad.

Press Shot | Courtesy of Ann James
Press Shot | Courtesy of Ann James

Quickfire Questions
Broadway or West End? Broadway.
Sondheim or Hammerstein? Sondheim.
Comedy or tragedy? Aren’t they the same?
Paris or New York City? NYC baby!