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Women’s History Month: Celebrating Women In The Arts – Spotlight On Heidi Grumelot

by Karen Tortora-Lee on March 24, 2011

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These women of the arts hail from different disciplines, but they all have an indomitable spirit and a luminescent spark that makes them amazing human beings who are out there every day, doing amazing work.

Today we continue our series with Heidi G. Grumelot.

Heidi Grumelot is the Artistic Director of Horse Trade Theater Group.  Horse Trade is comprised of three theatres that are like second homes to me: UNDER St. Marks, The Kraine and The Red Room.  I had the pleasure of getting to know her after we sat on a panel together during FRIGID NewYork 2011 discussing Self Producing Artists. Honestly, I”m surpirsed it took me this long to actually meet her considering what a fan I am of Horse Trade and how much of my time is spent there.

Heidi is also a talented director; she was responsible for the extremely enjoyable Donnie and the Monsters which was held over last year.  I’m happy to see someone so cool, so together and so strong being responsible for so much of the NYC downtown theatre scene.  I can’t wait to continue working with her in the years to come.  Now here’s Heidi’s story …

Talk to me about being a woman who does what you do- just overall.

I love what I do. Not only do I work with the nicest bunch of people around, I get to meet amazing artists each day and glean inspiration. I can’t imagine being a man doing this job…mainly because I’m not a man. Male or female, I do think being an ‘open’ person is a valuable quality in this business. I’m not sure if some of the bedlam we allow in our spaces would have found a home without a bit of openness – BTK Band I am talking about you.

Are there days it makes a difference – good or bad?

The combination of looking a bit younger than I am and being a woman often provokes surprise in those I meet. I generally try and take their surprise as a complement because forty is not thaaat far away… But, I’m not afraid to call people on it if they can’t do business with a woman.

Are there barriers you fought against in the past that are now becoming easier? Was it always easy? Is it still hard?

I think the biggest obstacle of being a woman in this job is facing the under-estimation of others. But any artist who takes chances faces this type of challenge….all the more reason to prove them wrong.

The men that you come across / work with / interact with – do they treat you as an equal?

I am treated very well by all the gents I work with right now. I really appreciate them because they totally have my back. They also work really hard, are generous, and just plain smart.

I have had situations in the past in other places where a man has tried to bully me on the job, so I suppose it has gotten better for me. Actually, I think it has gotten better because I am much better at standing up for myself now. Not to say I think bullying is gender specific, I have had similar situations with female bullies too.

Are there some resources you’d like to share that you find particularly helpful as a woman?

I think everyone should become friends with the Wreckio Ensemble - those ladies know what’s up. Oh, and take a trip to the Russian/Turkish bath house with the ladies on your staff after you finish the FRIGID Festival, I highly recommend that. Definitely take advantage of the happy hour offerings on your block with your favorite NJ playwright. Do whiskey shots with your crazy Israeli bookkeeper if you stay at work late. And do order stew fries with all the ladies in the office at lunch time….

You’re adorable, Heidi.  Plain and simple.  What’s up next for you?

I would love for more folks to meet The Drafts Ensemble at our Drafts Fest May 5th-15th. This year’s theme: ‘Accidental Discharge Impossible.’ We are very excited to be hosting a South African Theater Festival July 24th-August 2nd. And I am directing a play called Lines written by Terence Hughes in association with the UK Company Ice & Fire August 11th-27th. And before that we have so much more going on with our Horse Trade Residents – check out our website at And apply for a Residency at Horse Trade, over ¾ of all the playwrights, directors, and producers we worked with this season were women!

Now that’s what I like to hear!  Thanks so much, Heidi, for sharing your stories with us … can’t wait to see you at the next show!


More about Heidi Grumelot

Heidi Grumelot is co-creator and producer of the monthly storytelling show TOLD. She is the founding director of The Drafts, an acting ensemble responsible for development of over forty original plays to date as part of a monthly reading series. She is the Resident Coordinator for Horse Trade’s six resident companies.

New York directing credits include punkrock/lovesong at The Brick Theater, Dido and Aeneas with The New York Collective of Performing Arts at The West End Theater and The Boston Early Music Festival, Donnie and the Monsters at UNDER St Marks Theater, and Accidents Do Happen, Tom’s Things, and Turning the Glass Around in The Red Room. New York staged reading credits include The Flower Thief in The Red Room , A River Pure for Healing, and An Absolutely Perfect Life at UNDER St Marks Theater. Assistant director credits include Antony and Cleopatra, Love’s Labour’s Lost, and A Christmas Carol for the American Shakespeare Center. She has directed productions in Michigan, Virginia, and Mexico.

Prior to working at Horse Trade, Heidi worked for Laura Stanzyck Casting and The Public Theater’s Casting Department. Casting Assistant credits include Impressionism on Broadway, The Cripple of Inishman at Atlantic Theater Company, The Shawshank Redemption at The Gaiety Theater in Dublin, Holiday Garland at The Westport Country Playhouse, and Hamlet and Hair at Shakespeare in the Park.

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