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four people form a butterflyCalafia at Liberty, written and directed by Juliana Kleist-Méndez and devised with the company at the La Jolla Playhouse WoW Festival. Photo: Miranda Friel.

Juliana Kleist-Méndez

Master of Fine Arts, Directing




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Juliana Kleist-Méndez is an Iowa-born Cuban American committed to the power of resurrected stories.  She is an MFA Candidate in Theatre Directing at the University of California: San Diego. She has dedicated her career to immersive new work projects, making stories in locations ranging from historic homes to naval training camps. Selected projects include Rain Upon Remembrance (Cornell University); La Hija del Pirata at The Flagship Brewery (La Pirata Productions), and Calafia at Liberty at the U.S.S. Recruit (La Jolla Playhouse’s Without Walls Festival).  Juliana has also worked with new playwrights across the US: Far From Canterbury (Winner of Best Musical: New York International Fringe Festival; and selected for Encores! at The SoHo Playhouse); King Lear: A Radio Play (The Framework Theatre, Chicago); Elvira: The Immigration Play with Si Se Puede Productions (CollaborAction Theatre Company, Chicago); Club Silencio with the Cuban Cultural Center of New York (Manhattan Repertory Theater). During her time in California, she has partnered with San Diego Rep, assistant directing on The Humans and directing a reading of Aztec Pirates and the Insignificance of Life on Mars. At UCSD, she has directed An Iliad; Duchess! Duchess! Duchess! (Wagner New Play Festival); Elektra; and collaborated on the intimate, immersive Zoom performance, The Gathering, and her live, digital thesis production of Letters from Cuba.