With the encouragement of actor John Glover, Adrian got his start as a director workshopping a stage adaptation of Sam Shepard short stories while a student at Towson University. His directing highlights include Neil LaBute's A Good Thing (world premiere) and Reasons To Be Pretty, Stephen Metcalfe's Spittin' Image, and Courtney Antonioli’s The Mount (presented at Edith Wharton’s home in Lenox, MA). As an associate director, Adrian worked with his mentor Austin Pendleton on both the world premiere and TONY nominated Broadway production of Stephen Adly Guirgis' Pulitzer Prize winning play Between Riverside and Crazy, as well as on Anne Stockton's The Speed Queen (presented as part of the Rehabilitation Through the Arts program at Sing Sing Prison). He also worked with David Schweizer on the Baltimore Center Stage production of Lynn Nottage’s Crumbs from the Table of Joy, named best non-musical of the year by Terry Teachout, The Wall Street Journal.
In addition to directing established work, Adrian has developed and directed many new plays. As Associate Artistic Director of Hudson Theatre Works he oversees The Forge Company, an incubator for new work, and has premiered new plays by Dan O'Brien, Joanne Hoersch, Neil LaBute, John Patrick Shanley, Sarah T Schwab, and many others. Recently with LAByrinth Theater Company, he workshopped new plays by Lyle Kessler and Madeline Barr.
2020 - 2021, during the height of the pandemic, Adrian moved his directing activity online and into streaming live productions. With Hudson Theatre Works, he directed online readings and produced a six month Virtual Festival of original monologues by prominent playwrights. He produced the new musical Elliot & Me, which was shot on stage without an audience and streamed by Hudson Theatre Works, Sonoma Arts Live, Laguna Playhouse, and Chagrin Valley Little Theatre. In 2022, it was performed live at each of these venues.
Adrian has directed educational productions at Towson University, Brooklyn College, and the American Academy of Dramatic Arts. He is a member of The Actors Studio Playwrights and Directors Unit and an associate member of the Stage Directors and Choreographers Society (SDC). Adrian served on the Drama Desk Awards Nominating Committee and is a recipient of the Joel Zwick Scholarship in Directing, Friars Foundation Scholarship in Performing Arts, and Steve Yeager Theatre Fund Scholarship in Acting. He earned his MFA in Directing from Brooklyn College.
Reasons To Be Pretty
Adrian is a very promising and intelligent director... He is one of the most accomplished, generous and promising people I've ever been around.
- Austin Pendleton
Award winning Actor, Director, and Playwright
Adrian's biggest strength as a director is his humanity. He understands people; what makes them tick, their insecurities, and he knows how to instill confidence in every person he directs.
- Ian Belknap
Artistic Director, The Acting Company
“Pinter x 2” succeeds on every level. It’s mesmerizing theater with outstanding performances, taut direction and impeccable staging. Adrian Wattenmaker’s tense direction will keep you engaged and enthralled.
-Jim Testa, NJ Arts
"Between Riverside and Crazy"... A RICH NEW PLAY DELICIOUSLY MOUNTED!
- Ben Brantley, The New York Times
Best nonmusical revivals... Baltimore CENTERSTAGE's production of Lynn Nottage's "Crumbs From the Table of Joy," a lyrical memory play worthy of comparison with "The Glass Menagerie."
- Terry Teachout, The Wall Street Journal
Hire this man for anything - He's Great. And cool people too.
- Stephen Adly Guirgis
Actor, Playwright (2015 Pulitzer Prize for Drama)
"Reasons to Be Pretty" is an unsentimental look at the relationships between four people... Very well played, troupe!
- Cliff Kasden, Brooklyn Spectator
"The Right Reasons" is a sparkling and utterly believable bedroom sketch that explores the politics of sex in a smart and forthright way.
-- Di Jayawickrema, nytheatre.com
The film shots by Adrian Wattenmaker of Columbus claiming his prize conveyed triumph as moving as a landing on the moon.
"Columbus In The Age Of Gold"
- OOBR (off-off-broadway review)