By Ashley Baker
During a college semester abroad in Egypt, Oregon-native Tracy Francis found herself directing her first play. “I rented a theatre while I was there and decided to produce and direct a play. Why not?” she recalled. When Tracy left Oregon for college at Fordham University in New York, she found that the Big Apple’s hyperactive energy matched her own. While studying theatre and Middle Eastern politics, she discovered a passion for directing. After college, Tracy founded a theatre company called Hybrid Theatre Works which emphasized social and political engagement.
As an Egyptian-American, Tracy sees the arts as an important way to raise awareness, cultural understanding, and empathy. A favorite project was Comedy of Sorrows, an Egyptian play that explores the nation’s struggle to transition to democracy, which she produced and directed with Hybrid Theatre Works in New York after directing a reading in Portland for Boom Arts.
“Being able to educate and bring that discussion to the public was really important to me because most people just saw the news headlines,” Tracy recalled. “Using artistic expression as a way to discuss what was happening in Egypt on a higher level was really impactful and important to me.”
After launching Hybrid Theatre Works, Tracy took on a range of roles including shadow-directing HBO series True Blood and running the Cascade Festival of African Film, which is preparing to celebrate its 30th anniversary. Her directing and production projects – which are too numerous to list here – have been seen around the world, from Italy to Rwanda. However, Tracy remains committed to supporting the performing arts in the Tualatin Valley, including as a member of the Hillsboro Arts and Culture Council and as an Arts and Culture Leadership Incubator faculty member with Tualatin Valley Creates.
Her recent projects include directing for Noor Theatre’s 48-Hour Forum in New York, where five playwrights and five directors will be paired up to create a brand-new play in just two days. Tracy was also recently appointed as the artistic producer of Boom Arts in Portland, where she looks forward to bringing thought provoking global performance to local audiences.
“Being able to create a whole world…I feel like directing is shaping time,” she said. “You have a script, but then you’re shaping every moment – this whole experience for an audience – which I find really fulfilling.”
Find out more about Tracy’s productions and collaborations by visiting her website. Or, join us for the launch of the Arts & Culture Leadership Incubator, from 6pm to 8pm on Thursday, June 13 at the Walters Cultural Arts Center in Hillsboro. Tracy Francis, along with other Incubator faculty members Jessica Mehta, Raziah Roushan, and Toni Tabora-Roberts, will host interactive stations where you can experience their work, explore your own creativity, and learn more about the program.
About the Author: Ashley Baker
After spending several years developing communication strategies and conducting research for sustainability non-profits in Washington, D.C. and Portland, OR, Ashley has turned her attention to multimedia storytelling and community engagement. She holds a B.Sc. in chemistry from Sweet Briar College and is currently pursuing her master’s degree at the University of Oregon in Portland.