Dudley Saunders first worked with Heather Woodbury during the 1980s as Artistic Co-Director of the now-legendary East Village performance
space CAFÉ BUSTELO. But it wasn't until 1994 that he began to work with Woodbury as director and dramaturg
(a "dramaturg," in layman's terms, is a sort of editor/writing coach/structural coach - in Hollywood terms, call it "Story Editor"
(or, more frighteningly, "Development Executive")).
The first project with Woodbury turned out to be WHAT EVER: AN AMERICAN ODYSSEY IN 8 ACTS. WHAT EVER began unintentionally as a kind of art-world dare: Dudley challenged Woodbury to do an "endurance art" project, in which she would write and perform a new piece every week for a year. After shortening the duration to a more gestation-like 9 months, Woodbury took up the challenge and began performing in the back of the New York music club THE FORT (at Sidewalks) in September 1994.
Then called THE HEATHER WOODBURY REPORT, the weekly performances - originally intended to be free-form - began to develop a kaleidoscopic, neo-Dickensian narrative which concluded with a splash in May 1995. But before that conclusion, Dudley had to take up a challenge from Woodbury - to edit over 20-hours of this material into a single piece, and then direct Woodbury in it.
The result was the four-night, ten-hour epic now known as WHAT EVER, which toured internationally, winning awards and critical accolades, until its publication in September 2003 by Faber & Faber as a book called WHAT EVER: A LIVING NOVEL.
In the meantime, Dudley began work on a second epic with Woodbury called TALE OF 2CITIES: AN AMERICAN JOYRIDE ON MULTIPLE TRACKS. And for a change, he directed three version of the show - one solo, two designed for a cast of actors which played in workshop at New York's Public Theatre in 2001 and, finally, in a 2006 bicoastal premiere at UCLA LIVE and PS122 in New York. Along the way, the piece made pitstops at the Galway Arts Festival in Ireland (2004) and the Time-Based Arts Festival in Portland, Oregon (2004).
In May 2007, Dudley's New York production of TALE OF 2CITIES: AN AMERICAN JOYRIDE ON MULTIPLE TRACKS won an OBIE Award for Ensemble Performance, and was filmed for the archives of Lincoln Center.