Monica Payne is a theatre and film director, whose work intersects bold physicality, deep emotion, and collective ritual. She is the founder of Theatre Lumina, an ensemble devoted to cross-cultural collaboration and international exchange.
Her projects are often globally-focused and she creates devised work as a way to respond to current events or highlight marginalized voices. Her most recent piece, Ritual, premiered in New Orleans in May of 2023. Payne has directed throughout the U.S., including New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, New Orleans, and Pittsburgh and her devised work on global displacement, Song of Home, toured to Eastern Europe just weeks before the Covid lockdown. She is a member of SDC, The Lincoln Center Director' Lab, and Directors' Lab West. Previously an actress, she has worked with many prestigious ensembles, including Steppenwolf Theatre Company.
Payne holds an MFA in Directing from the UCLA School of Theatre, Film, and Television, and has been a Meisner-based acting teacher for over 20 years. She has taught for The School at Steppenwolf, Steppenwolf Classes West, The Latino Theatre Company, The Robert Mello Studio, The Artistic Home, and her own studios in L.A. and Chicago. She is currently an Assistant Professor at Tulane, where she also serves as Head of Directing.