Allegheny Graduate Awarded Inaugural Max Ferrá Director Fellowship From INTAR Theatre
In early 2022, Itzel Ayala ’18 was awarded the inaugural Max Ferrá Director Fellowship from INTAR (International Arts Relations) Theatre, a national honor that recognizes an exceptional emerging Latinx director. Ayala says her experiences at Allegheny College helped set the stage for the next step in her blossoming career in the theatre.
“I think my practical experiences in making productions, co-founding a technical theatre club, and being the president of Student Experimental Theatre were instrumental to me having the immediate skills to be an attractive candidate,” says Ayala, who majored in theatre and minored in Latin American and Caribbean studies. “There are things that I decided to explore on my own during my time at Allegheny that I can see now were ahead of where the industry currently stands, inside and outside academia.”
Ayala first encountered INTAR Theatre when she interned there between her junior and senior years of college. Located in New York City, INTAR Theatre is dedicated to developing and producing theater from Latinx artists to present diverse perspectives. Now, she is returning to commission a play to be written, and she will produce it as part of the fellowship. Additionally, she will assistant direct the INTAR production ¡Oso Fabuloso & The Bear Backs!
“This has been a very special award to me because the people at INTAR have truly followed my career and have watched me grow, learn, and become more solidified in my beliefs,” Ayala says. “Directing with the INTAR community is such a dream. Everyone is so open to collaborating because I’ve had an ongoing relationship with them for years. It is also a space where I feel safe to explore my artform as I slowly start putting that out there with my name attached so prominently.”
After graduating from Allegheny College, Ayala found support from New York Theatre Workshop to pursue a career in production management as she completed her administrative fellowship there.
Today, Ayala works as a production manager for The Bushwick Starr, located in Brooklyn, and as an assistant production manager at The Public Theater in New York City. In these positions, she collaborates with designers and directors to ensure production elements are available for the stage. She is commonly challenged with balancing the constraints of budget, labor, and artistic vision.
Ayala has particularly made equity a focus of her work, as she has opened up positions for people who otherwise might be hindered by the industry.
“I always was interested in creating access and opportunity for those who aren’t represented,” Ayala says. “I find that the ability to enact more equitable change into the theatre industry continues to be the most rewarding part of my job and the place I take up within the theatre community.”