Valérie Thérèse Bart is a proud self-proclaimed Franco-VietnAmericaine. Born in France to Vietnamese refugee parents, she and her family eventually made their way to the US in the 1990s.
Theater came to her “late” in life, after having tried fashion and hating the business part. She started to work at the costume shop of a community college—her first experiences with live theater. Watching stories come to life and feeling privileged to be behind-the-scenes to witness the making of theater magic was thrilling. This eventually led her to an undergrad degree from UCLA.
After a few years freelancing and before applying and then attending the Yale School of Drama, she decided to take a 2-week intensive workshop, entitled “The Collaborative Process: Directors and Designers” taught by Ming Cho Lee and Constance Hoffman through a summer program at the Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival, where she was among 24 people of various ages/backgrounds—teachers, early career professionals, undergrad/grad students—and they had mock production meetings on various “paper” projects of major pieces of theater and opera. She walked away from that workshop with eyes open to the power of the conversation, the true essence of collaboration.
Costume/scenic design is the perfect way into storytelling—through characters with what they are wearing and why, and the environment they find themselves in. It makes one delve into the psychology and the thought process behind choices. Good designers approach a script as a director and actor would by asking the questions of who/what/when/where/how and why. And it makes complete sense to her that this can combine all of her favorite things: storytelling (comics/RPG books), clothing/expression (fashion design), movement/choreography (dance), mood/theme/score (music).
She hopes to create work that is collaborative, open-minded and truly diverse because she comes from multi-ethnic/multi-cultural backgrounds and sees the world as such. While it is very important to have ethnocentric projects for Asian Americans or African Americans, etc, it is more important for her to have an all-inclusive way of telling stories. She wants to see diversity without having to think about it—not completely white, or all black, or yellow, but layered and mixed, like she is.
Valérie currently resides in New York with her loving husband Rick, their amazing son Étienne, and their awesome black cat, HoBart.