Stage Directors & Choreographers Society  
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Selected Credits: Regional Two-Page Directing Resume PDF  
  Full Production Credits: Training Programs
Curriculum Vitae PDF  
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Selected Credits: New York & International
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High, Thin, Cirrus

Michael Downend

Dream Tree, Westbeth Center, 2012



Silent Follies or It Was a Wednesday (devised)

Zuppa del Giorno, developed in rehearsal

Teatro diffuso, Lago di Bolsena region, Italy, 2008


Amore e’ difficile, amore e’ buona (devised)

Zuppa del Giorno, developed in rehearsal

Teatro che cammina, Castel San Pietro, Italy, 2008


The Woman (premiere)

David Zarko. from William C. DeMille

The Metropolitan Playhouse, 2001


What Happened to Jones (premiere)

David Zarko, from George Broadhurst

The Metropolitan Playhouse, 2000


Mrs. Bumpstead-Leigh

Harry James Smith

The Metropolitan Playhouse, 1998


The O. Henry Conspiracy (devised in part)

created with Richard Grunn & Duane Noch

The Metropolitan Playhouse, 1998


The Return of Peter Grimm

David Belasco

The Metropolitan Playhouse, 1997


The Streets of New York

Dion Boucicault

The Metropolitan Playhouse, 1996


Wenceslas Square

Larry Shue

The Metropolitan Playhouse, 1993



Open Admissions

Shirley Lauro

The Metropolitan Playhouse, 1992




Cherie Vogelstein

Greene Hall, Columbia University, 1992



The Apollo of Belac

Jean Giradoux

Chain Lightning Theatre, 1992


Wenceslas Square

Larry Shue

Theatre 22, 1991



George Bernard Shaw

Pulse Ensemble Theatre, 1991



Mr. Tartoof (premiere)

Moliere, adapted by David Zarko

Studio III Group, 1991


Arms and the Man

George Bernard Shaw

Pulse Ensemble Theatre, 1991



Plastic (premiere)

Robert Shaffron

Sanford Meisner Theater, 1990



Anatol (premiere)

Arthur Schnitzler, adapted by David Zarko

Studio III Group, 1990



Death Warmed Over (devised comedy review, with music)

developed in rehearsal

Home for the Contemporary Arts, 1990



The Passion of Dracula

Bob Hall & David Richmond

Red Light Theatre Company, 1989


Backstage East
January 4, 2002
In a year when much was mediocre, the following made memorable impressions: The Howard Carter Archeology Award for Unearthing Worthwhile Plays: To The Mint Theatre for their production of "Rutherford & Son," a 1912 work by the young woman playwright, Githa Sowerby's British family play of conflict, passion, and social change; and to The  Metropolitan Playhouse for their production of "The Woman," an engaging 1911 political drama by William C. de Mille (brother of Cecil B. and father of Agnes).  Discovered on microfilm at the New York Library, it was adapted and directed by David Zarko. The two  leading female roles speak volumes about emerging feminism.
Year-End Bouquets By Karl Levett

The Woman is about the scramble of American politics; the established partisan powers battle a renegade reformer by accusing him of sexual improprieties.

A company member went to the Library of Performing Arts and typed the script into his laptop from the original manuscript, then I performed major adaptations, especially on those parts after the first ten pages. Massive cuts and changes were made during rehearsals (I directed, too). The result was quite effective, and was still remarkably topical. Check "Playwrighting" for a sample.

... if anyone comes to the Metropolitan Playhouse expecting a treacly silent-movie melodrama they are in for a pleasantly unpleasant shock. The unpleasantness has nothing to do with the quality of the play, for it is very well constructed and faultlessly directed by Zarko and acted by the cast. One just leaves the theater with the sickish feeling that nothing at all has changed in politics except that the men no longer wear detachable shirt collars.
Arlene McKanic, Backstage
Produced in Pulse's third floor walk up on Herald Square, the great challenge was to create three sets with no backstage or wings -- at all. I designed several units all of which turned, opened, stood on end, and performed various other feats of inanimate acrobatics. It all worked very nicely without anything ever leaving stage except the actors. The cast was lovely to work with, and in honor of the candlelight we (dangerously) used in the first act, presented me with a candelabra.
    If there were reviews, I don't have them.
The cast included Kelly Champion, Steve Bittrich, Margaret Massman, and Steve Deighan. It was produced at the theatre that Pulse had on Herald Square, third floor walk up, tiny, low ceilings, but very sweet. I designed and built the set (from what was lying about) with help from Marc Raphael on a total budget of $50.
    If there were reviews, I don't have them.
Those who believe... that Havel magically restored Czechoslovakia's cultural freedom, are strongly encouraged to visit "Wenceslas Square"... the sensitivity of Shue's play comes through.
The National Theater Magazine
  We did this play several times with different Dooly's (Lou Rabon was the second, and appears here on the right.) We even took it to Vilnius, Lithuania in June 0f 1995, where is was performed at Vaidilos Ainai Teatros, Lithuania's first non-state sponsored theatre company. In that production, I took the part of Vince, otherwise played by Steve Deighan.
...imaginatively directed by... David Zarko... "Wenceslas Square" weaves a spell like the heady tonic of a foreign city on an unprepared tourist.
Showbiz NY
Every time we mounted this show, it grew. But the staging that I created in its first incarnation -- with all the action taking place in a long, lateral alley between two blocks of audience seating -- never varied to any significant degree, even in Vilnius. The set consisted of four chairs and a table that became all the elements needed.
If you are only going to see one local play this season, make the The Northeast Theatre's production of Larry Shue's "Wenceslas Square" . . . [it] is theater at its best.
Joe Caputo, The Scranton Times
This fine old potboiler was played absolutely straight, and managed to be inspiring, stirring, dramatic, and funny all at the same time. This was the first show in The Metropolitan Playhouse's current mandate of concentrating on American theatre from before the 1920's. Audiences said it was like watching the RSC off-off-Broadway.
If there were reviews, I don't have them.
An excellent play about intimations of an afterlife, we took the circus motif that Belasco had inserted and expanded it so that the clowns became ambassadors to the other world. John Fritz wrote some lovely, magical music that the clowns sung to wonderful effect. The show has real charm ... the cast has a sense of joy that is refreshing and contagious.
Time Out Magazine
Director David Zarko has invented a powerful and poetic visual metaphor to convey the presence of the dead among the living.
The child was played by the late, lovely, Shana Dowdeswell. It was her first role.  
We began developing this piece as a monodrama for Richard Grunn (the fellow on the floor). One afternoon we decided that we really needed another actor to improv a scene in order to find the interplay between the two characters Richard was playing, and Duane Noch happened to be around. Ten minutes later, the show was a two-hander.
  Meticulously constructed... high-quality entertainment.  A wildly humorous pastiche (using) vaudevillian, Chaplinesque and commedia dell'arte techniques. 
The Austin American Statesman
The absolute beauty of this production is that it embraces theater in this purest fashion -- actor, passion and some light.  You are in for a treat...
Scranton Times
The physical comedy of the play - a goofy keystone cop chasing a criminal, a trick reclining chair that dumps people on the floor - gives it a unique, vintage charm.
. . . reminiscent of a Charlie Chaplin movie: lots of humor, sometimes slapstick, played with an underlying gentle and intelligent sensibility.  I found myself belly laughing --- the kind of good deep laugh that sustains us long after we have stopped laughing --- the kind of laugh that makes us feel... well... better about things.
The River Reporter
We played this one pretty straight. It's a lovely satiric comedy of manners about a social climber and her daughter, true love, and rank deception. Great fun. The beautiful set was designed by Charlie Wittreich and lovingly built by Duane Noch who also appeared in the show.  
David Zarko's direction works wonders with the large cast on such a small stage. He inventively has the actors enter and exit from all manner of halls and doorways so the audience feels virtually surrounded by the merriment of the deception.
Teatro che cammina is a festival of street theatre near Bologna, Italy. Zuppa del Giorno was invited to participate. The show followed a couple from first glance to first death, and was performed in both English and Italian.  
  I helped the actors create a scenario, then they fleshed it out on their own. After they had the bones of the play, I helped them again with choices, focus, arc, and staging.
    There were no reviews
I reduced the Broadhurst script to a scenario of about 80 French scenes, scripted about 12 of them from scratch to give the actors a sense of style, and then scripted the rest based on improvisations by the cast. See "Playwrighting" for a sample scene.

David Zarko, who also directed, has adapted this 1897 three-act farce to demonstrate its original fizz while sharpening its wit with some latter-day references. The result is an endearing and very serviceable farce, one that would be a boon to amateur groups seeking such fare, and far superior to many over-performed comedies currently out there. Zarko has directed his large cast with gusto...

Director David Zarko concocted a first-rate production.
The New York Times
Zarko keeps the zany plot moving along at a snappy pace, and keeps the laughs coming with swift and sure regularity.
The New York Theatre Experience