Amy Stebbins

Amy Stebbins is a writer and director working in opera, theater, and the digital arts.

Her breakthrough came with "Mauerschau" (Bavarian State Opera, 2016), a reimagining of the Penthesilea myth as an investigation of war and information technology. "Mauerschau" was awarded the Opera Festival Prize and later brought by Oksana Lyniv for the inaugural season of the LvivMozArt Festival in Lviv, Ukraine.

As a writer, Stebbins crafts original stories based on preexisting literary, documentary, and mixed-media materials. Her libretti are known for their surreal narratives, historical analysis, quirky humor, and conceptual rigor. Collaboration is essential to her process, especially in her work with composers. "A libretto is not an autonomous work of art," she has written, "but a communication device between the scenic and the acoustic imaginations of the creative team." Since 2014, she has penned the libretti for seven operas, five of these with composer Hauke Berheide.

As a director, she enjoys working in a wide range of formats from site-specific installation to mainstage repertoire. Her most recent production, "c:\>title Labyrinth" was produced for the cooling room of the former Augsburg gas plant. Audience members were placed in an immersive staging that combined 3D projection with virtual reality and an orchestra of original instruments in "surround-sound" around the perimeter of the space.

Stebbins' commitment to new work also takes the form of institutional intervention. She is the co-founder and chairperson of New Opera Dialogues, an artist-led NGO that promotes international dialogue about contemporary opera. She has also convened multiple Transatlantic exchanges for artists and arts administrators in partnership the Fulbright Foundation, the German Chancellery, the U.S. State Department, and others. Ongoing endeavours include the establishment of a European center for contemporary opera and a graduate degree program for librettists.

Current research projects include a media history of the libretto, digital technologies in opera, and the history of acting theory. She recently joined the Institute for Theater Studies at the Ruhr University Bochum as a postdoc, and is an adjunct faculty member of the Conservatory for Music and Performing Arts in Hamburg where she teaches libretto-writing. Her articles have appeared in Seminar, Critical Social Policy, The Arts in Psychotherapy, Zeit-Online, and in several anthologies including Theatre and Internationalization (Routledge, 2021) and Das Regiebuch (Wallstein Verlag, 2021).

Stebbins holds a Ph.D in Cinema & Media Studies and Germanic Studies from the University of Chicago, and a B.A. in History & Literature from Harvard College. Her dissertation "Theater against the Turn: Acting Dialectics at Frank Castorf's Volksbühne" explores acting in the theater of Frank Castorf and the forms of political ontology it models. Beyond her dissertation, the Berlin Volksbühne was formative for Stebbins. From 2007-2010, she interned and assisted artists like René Pollesch, Sebastian Baumgarten, and Chris Kondek.

Much of Stebbins' work has been developed with the support of residencies and fellowships including: MacDowell, the Academy for Theater & Digitality, Lincoln Center Directors Lab, German Chancellor Fellowship, Akademie Musiktheater heute, and the Fulbright Foundation.

Stebbins lives between Berlin and Chicago.