Blog Get to Know the Director of “Private Lives,” KJ Sanchez
Mar 2, 2023

Get to Know the Director of “Private Lives,” KJ Sanchez

ATC has had the pleasure of working with countless talented and insightful directors throughout its years as a company. With ATC’s addition of Noël Coward’s Private Lives, comes the addition of accomplished director KJ Sanchez.

Growing up on a ranch as the youngest of 12, Sanchez had her sights set on becoming a physical therapist. In her eyes, her life did not indicate a path in theater was likely. She said in an interview with Milwaukee Rep back in 2020, “We weren’t a literary family. We didn’t have many books. We weren’t readers!” However, plans changed when one thing led to the next.

Her participation in her high school’s Folklorico club led her to being a part of her community theater in Albuquerque, New Mexico. She was a part of the theater long enough to meet Jorge Huerta who told her about UC San Diego’s theater program. At the time she had been studying Biology, still hoping to fulfill her goal of becoming a physical trainer. But after careful thought she decided to make the leap and transfer. Sanchez added on Theater and double majored for a bit before choosing to go all in on Theater.

She went on to become the first person in her family to attend college and earn a degree. Two degrees at that. In 1989, Sanchez received a Bachelor of Arts degree, and followed it up with her Masters of Fine Arts from the University of California, San Diego in 1992. Her studies introduced her to Anne Bogart, known for her influence in contemporary theater with her non traditional training methods. Following her graduation, Sanchez moved to New York with $265 in her pocket. Not too long after her move, Anne Bogart asked Sanchez to join the SITI Company that she founded in 1992.

Sanchez went on to earn her remarkable reputation by acting, writing, and directing nationally and internationally. Her works and talents have been displayed at The Guthrie Theatre, California Shakespeare Theater, Milwaukee Rep, and Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park to name a few.

Now, Sanchez is the CEO of American Records, a company that aims to “make theater that chronicles our time.” She also teaches and heads the department of Playwriting and Directing at the University of Texas at Austin. And, of course, she wouldn’t be KJ Sanchez if she didn’t make every last bit of her talent count. So, you might catch her voicing a variety of the characters on Nickelodeon’s Dora The Explorer, or Go, Diego, Go!

However, it was with the SITI Company that Sanchez had her first encounter with Private Lives, by Noël Coward when she was cast as Sibyl in 1998. Eleven years later, she directed a version of Private Lives set in 1929 Buenos Aires. The production “shed a new Latin light on one of the greatest plays ever about love, marriage, love, divorce,” while preserving that classic Coward wit. Sanchez plans to bring that same Latin flare to ATC with an added dash of tango. “I wanted to add lots of tango dancing to the show. To me tango does a lot of what Coward does with the show. It’s a push and pull between two people. It’s about chemistry. It’s about fighting as much as it is about making love. It’s saucy, and brassy, and rude.” As Sanchez and Coward meet again, we anxiously await to see what new inspirations inform ATC’s production of Private Lives. With KJ Sanchez at the helm, we can expect nothing short of thrilling and fresh.