Joel Sass is a stage director, designer and adapter based in Minneapolis, Minnesota, where he has worked since 1990, specializing in the creation of new work for the stage and devising imaginative reinterpretations of classic plays.
A busy freelance artist, Joel has directed and designed over 15 award-winning productions at the acclaimed Jungle Theatre including THE SEAFARER, I AM MY OWN WIFE, THE SYRINGA TREE, SHINING CITY and HEWIG & THE ANGRY INCH. Joel has also directed and/or designed at the Guthrie Theatre (PERICLES, 9 PARTS OF DESIRE, THE 39 STEPS and the upcoming VANYA, SONIA, MASHA AND SPIKE), Oregon Shakespeare Festival (THE HEART OF ROBIN HOOD), California Shakespeare Theater (MACBETH, TITUS ANDRONICUS and PERICLES), Theatre de la June Lune (LETTICE & LOVAGE), Arizona Theatre Company (THE 39 STEPS), Park Square Theatre (NOISES OFF, DIRTY BLONDE, THE MYSTERY OF IRMA VEP, TRIUMPH OF LOVE), the University of Minnesota (THE ROVER, BLACK COMEDY, THE ROCKY HORROR SHOW, ARABIAN NIGHTS), Mixed Blood Theatre (THE HISTORY OF BOWLING), Macalester College (THE ROVER, THE CHERRY ORCHARD), Ananya Dance Theatre (DUURBAAR), Theatre-In-The-Round (M. BUTTERFLY, MARAT SADE, DARK OF THE MOON), Starting Gate (THE GRAPES OF WRATH), Gremlin Theatre (ON THE VERGE), Frank Theater (VENUS, THE PILLOWMAN) and many others. Joel has been a teaching artist for the Minneapolis Children’s Theatre’s acclaimed Neighborhood Bridges program, and an adjunct faculty member at the University of Minnesota.
From 1990 to 1993 Joel worked with the Tony Award-winning Theatre de la Jeune Lune as resident assistant director to the company, where he participated in the creation of several of the company’s original pieces, including CHILDREN OF PARADISE: SHOOTING THE DREAM, THE BALLROOM, and ROBINSON CRUSOE, in addition to designing and occasionally performing.
In 1994 Joel co-founded and was the artistic director of the Mary Worth Theatre Company in Minneapolis, an award-winning theatre lab where for nine years he directed, designed and adapted over 14 new works and imaginative treatments of classic plays including TITUS ANDRONICUS, THE RACE OF THE ARK TATTOO, HISTORY OF THE DEVIL, MADAME DE SADE, TABLOID DREAMS, OUT OF THE DUST, THE GODS ARE THIRSTY, VALLEY OF THE DOLLS, LUNATIC CELLMATES!, SHAKESPEARE’S R & J, and CRAZYFACE. Mary Worth was named Best Independent Theatre Company-2003.
Joel was awarded a 2006 McKnight Theatre Artist Fellowship in recognition of sustained artistic excellence, and is the recipient of a 2006 IVEY award for scenic design (LAST OF THE BOYS by Steven Deitz), and a 2009 IVEY award for Overall Excellence (MARY'S WEDDING by Stephen Massicotte). In 2007, Joel was honored with the 2007 Alan Schneider Directing Award - a national award recognizing the work of freelance directors - administered by Theater Communications Group (TCG). Joel was named Best Director in 2002, and again in 2008 by the Twin Cities theatre critics. In 2009, he was named Best Scenic Designer in the Twin Cities, and the Jungle Theater was named Best Large Theater under his interim leadership.