Directors’ Page

Working with Joe: What Directors Say…

Joe Sykes as parallel characters Karl and Steve in Clybourne Park, directed by Melissa Foulger. It earned a Suzi Bass Award for Best Ensemble Cast.

“He’s one of my most favorite actors to work with,” says director Melissa Foulger. “Working with Joe is always a pleasure.  His commitment  to his work—vocally, physically, and emotionally—is exemplary.”

Joe has strong training in a variety of acting techniques, Foulger says, including Viewpoints, Suzuki and Rasaboxes.  She and Joe often draw on his facility with these techniques to add dimension and nuance to characters.

Melissa Foulger

“I’ve had the pleasure of working with Joe on five different productions, including two world premieres, and, with every performance, I am astounded by the depth of his work—specifically his commitment to understanding and portraying of character.  For me, the most exciting work I’ve done with him has been his origination of roles for three different Steve Yockey world premiere shows.  He meticulously digs through the text for clues to his character and spends a great deal of care in crafting these characters for the first time….  He listens to the director (and playwright, in these cases) and works hard to expand the character far beyond what’s on the page.”

Finally, Joe is a great guy to work with, she says. “He always has a great attitude throughout the process, making it a lot of fun!”

— Award-winning director Melissa Foulger, “one of Atlanta’s finest directors,” is also the Artistic Director of DramaTech at Georgia Tech.


Kate Warner

Joe and I have collaborated many times…” says director Kate Warner. “Part of the joy I have in working with Joe is his dogged pursuit of getting the material across to an audience. He will listen to the audience and adjust, adjust, adjust.

“I have a deep trust in his process and I know Joe, in return, generously places his trust in me, which ultimately is a great way to work.”

— Kate Warner, director/producer/consultant, Development Director at the Hambridge Center for Creative Arts and Sciences.


Lara Smith

“Joe Sykes is an incredibly versatile performer—I’ve seen him range from caregiver to predator in the course of one show. His work is exceptional and he brings such an infections energy of joy to all rehearsal processes.”

— Lara Smith, managing director at Dad’s Garage Theatre, is a rising force on the Atlanta arts scene. In 2015, she was named one of the 40 Under 40 by the Atlanta Business Chronicle.


“I met Joe (and cast him in The Little Death) after hearing good things about his work in the local theatre scene,” says independent film director Bret Wood. “After working with him on that project, I’ve kept up with his stage appearances—most memorably in Steve Yockey’s Wolves—and have been looking for an opportunity to collaborate with him again.”

fullsizeoutput_1c70Wood found the right match in his current project; Joe takes the lead as a vengeful loner in Those Who Deserve To Die, due out 2019.

“Joe is an asset to the project in many ways,” Wood says. “Beyond his deep commitment to the role, and the compelling performance he has been delivering, he is a constant source of energy and morale-boosting throughout the long and sometimes arduous shoots. Anyone who has been on set is now familiar with the booming sound of Joe’s contagious laughter.” Read more…

—Bret Wood, independent filmmaker, documentarian, film curator and preservationist, co-authored the book Forbidden Fruit: The Golden Age of Exploitation Film with his wife Felicia Feaster and has written and edited other works that focus on exploitation films.


“One of Joe’s greatest strengths is his versatility,” says Freddie Ashley, artistic director at Actor’s Express. “He attacks with equal skill very masculine alpha characters along with more sensitive characters. His range never ceases to surprise me.”

On the subject of Joe’s work with LA playwright Steve Yockey, who has premiered many critically acclaimed plays in Atlanta, Ashley says, “I think the relationship between Steve and Joe is extraordinary. Joe has an intuitive understanding of Steve’s work. And again, when you look at the roles Joe has originated in Steve’s plays, the range is extraordinary.

Freddie Ashley

“The same guy originated roles in Octopus AND Blackberry Winter? Wolves AND Pluto? Each character in those plays was so distinct and Joe’s work was highly particularized to each. Having that kind of long-term simpatico relationship between actor and playwright is exceptional and rare.”

— Artistic Director Freddie Ashley has garnered multiple Suzi Bass Awards for Actor’s Express and is a former Literary Manager at the Alliance Theatre.

See what the critics say about Joe…