Meet the team

Lee Mikeska Gardner

Lee Mikeska Gardner is in her third year as the Artistic Director of The Nora Theatre Company. In that time she has directed Her Aching Heart, Grounded, Saving Kitty (with Jennifer Coolidge) and Arcadia and performed in Emilie: The Marquise de Châtelet Defends Her Life Tonight, earning an Eliot Norton award for Lead Actress, Small Theatre. She also played Claudia in the IRNE nominated Chosen Child at Boston Playwrights Theatre.

Hailing from the Washington, D.C. region, her work ranges from plays in development to the classics. An Artistic Associate for ten years at Woolly Mammoth Theatre Company, Lee directed After Ashley (Helen Hayes nomination for Outstanding Direction); Fat Men In Skirts; Life During Wartime (Helen Hayes nomination for Outstanding Direction); Goodnight, Desdemona, Good Morning Juliet (Helen Hayes nomination for Outstanding Direction); Doug Wright’s Watbanaland; The Chinese Art of Placement; the world premiere of The Gene Pool; Stop Kiss and Fuddy Meers. As an Associate Artist with 1st Stage Lee directed Blithe Spirit; The How and The Why; Humble Boy and Fuddy Meers.  Lee served as the Managing Director for Washington Shakespeare Company for five years and for them directed the world premieres of Caesar and Dada and Learning Curves (both by Allyson Currin); Equus; A Midsummer’s Nights Dream (with 7 actors,) and Deathwatch, a co-production with Actors’ Theatre of Washington, with whom she directed the all-male Dangerous Liaisons.  Other favorite directing projects include Across the Wide and Lonesome Prairie at The Kennedy Center, Angels in America and Peristroika at Signature Theatre, T.S. Eliot’s The Cocktail Party for the Washington Stage Guild (Theatre Lobby Award,) Bad Dates at the Olney Theatre Center, Golden Boy and Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? with the Keegan Theatre (Artistic Associate), The Butterfingers Angel…, Thom Pain (Based on Nothing,) Stones In His Pockets and Three Tall Women at Rep Stage, where Lee also served as Managing Director for two years.

As a performer, Lee earned a Helen Hayes Award for Outstanding Lead Actress for the role of Mary in A House in the Country with Charter Theatre, where she also performed the roles of Carla in A Taste of Fire (Helen Hayes nomination), Fran in Short Order Stories, and Susanna in Of A Sunday Morning, all of which were world premieres.  Lee originated the role of Hettie in Julie Jensen’s Two Headed, which she performed at Washington Shakespeare Company and Mill Mountain Theatre. Other favorite roles include Terry in Sideman (Helen Hayes nomination) and Florence Foster Jenkins in Souvenir at 1st Stage;  Patricia Preece in Stanley at Potomac Theatre Project (Helen Hayes nomination,) Kimberly Bergalis in Patient A at Freedom Stage (Helen Hayes nomination,) Clare in Tennessee Williams’s The Two-Character Play at Spooky Action Theatre, Gertrude in Hamlet, Josie in The Show Off at The American Century Theater and Luisa in A Shayna Maidel (Best Actress, Baltimore City Paper) at Rep Stage.

Lee spent seven years as Associate Artistic Director with the Shenandoah Playwrights’ Retreat working on plays in development with such varied playwrights as Julie Jensen, Sean Clark, Peter Coy, Kia Corthron, Karim Alrawi, Hoang To Mai, Dana Yeaton, Tat Ming Cheung, Motti Lerner, Heather McDonald, John Walch and Jerome Hairston.  She also works closely with emerging playwrights at The Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival as an actor, director and mentor.

As an educator, Lee has taught or served as a Guest Artist at Emerson College, the Catholic University of America, George Mason University, American University, Montgomery College, George Washington University, University of Nevada, Las Vegas, UVA, Charlottesville, University of Maryland, College Park, Middlebury College; National Conservatory of Dramatic Arts, and Summer Rep Company (Columbia, MO) and founded the Acting Classes at Woolly Mammoth and Washington Shakespeare Company. Lee has a B.F.A. in the Performing Arts from George Mason University and an M.F.A. in Acting from The Catholic University of America.