Profession: Director, writer/adapter
Hometown: Billings, Mont.
Current home: Seattle
Known for: Aaseng is associate artistic director of Seattle’s Book-It Repertory Theatre, where he previously served as literary manager. At Book-It he directed and co-adapted (with Daemond Arrindell) Welcome to Braggsville and adapted and directed Slaughterhouse-Five. He served as a consulting director with Rachel Chavkin on Frank Boyd’s The Holler Sessions, which has toured nationally and internationally.
What’s next: Aaseng is currently working on a new project at Book-It, pending a rights agreement. He’s also developing screen projects with Braggsville author T. Geronimo Johnson and Arrindell, and working with Arrindell on a commission from Freehold Theatre to create a play inspired by Mother Courage for the company’s Engaged Theatre project, which presents works in correctional facilities and elsewhere in Washington state.
What makes him special: Jane Jones, Book-It founder and founding co-artistic director, says that working with Aaseng has made her a better artist. “His passion for community and collaboration, his ethos for the art, his shoot-from-the-hip candor, and his sense of fair play have made him a welcome presence from staff meetings to pre- and post-production critiques,” Jones says. “I value his opinions and suggestions, knowing they are well tethered in the essential spirit of creativity, intelligence, and generosity. He’s a great thinker and talent.”
By the book: Aaseng taps into his background as a literary manager when he approaches a directing project. “I’m inclined to trust writers and prioritize their voice and vision in my directorial choices,” he says. “Any time I find myself getting a little clever, I just try to center the story and get out of my own way—it almost always yields something better.”