Local Professional Theater, Capital Stage, Hires New Artistic Director, Michael Stevenson
Capital Stage on J and 22nd Streets has been a staple of high quality Theatre production in Sacramento for many years. Recently, two of its three founding members, Stephanie Gularte and Jonathan Williams have been swept up by the winds of Northern Florida where Gularte is taking over as Artistic Director of The American Stage.
While the Sacramento theater community grieves the loss of this brilliant husband and wife team, it is welcomimg Michael Stevenson into the role of Artistic Director with open arms.
I sat down with Michael recently to get the skinny on how he plans to keep Capital Stage as BOLD! LIVE! and INTIMATE! as it has been since the theater’s inception in 2005.
Katie Rubin: So! Michael! Sir Mister Artistic Director! Congratulations!
Michael Stevenson: Why, thank you!
K.R. Of course! So tell, me. AD at Cap Stage! Will you be carrying the Capital Stage Vision into the Future? If so, what is that vision?
M.S. Well, Stephanie, Jonathan and Peter (Mohrman) really created something extraordinary with Capital Stage, and I’m really excited to uphold their vision- to keep that energy alive! I really value what they created and it was important to them and to the board that the theater be handed off to someone who shares the same theatrical values of producing provocative, risky theater along with great classic plays. Me being who I am, I hope to expand even further on what the company’s amazing founders built by hopefully becoming a preeminent producer of new plays, on the national level.
K.R. So, what is Capital Stage’s essence, would you say?
M.S. We are a company that is interested in creating provocative theater that explores the all of the richest human issues: political, gender, identity- all the stuff that makes life really fun and exciting. We’re all about new and cutting edge works that really examine and cut into those issues- weather it’s through comedy, drama, experimental- whatever form we find most exciting and engaging at the time that we discover it.
K.R. Was Artistic Directing something you always had in mind?
M.S. I started out as an actor, you know-“ Torpedos be damned, I’m gonna go out there and JUST ACT!” But eventually I discovered I really loved directing. And the more I did that I thought “Oh I’ve got a strong administrative side as well. Hmm.” But I’d never pursued it until a little while ago so I feel really lucky to be here.
K.R. And what is it that you love about directing?
M.S. I love watching actors. I just love it. I have a lot of respect for actors, and what they do and I also love stories- I really just eat them up. I also really love creating the right room for actors to do their work the best they can. One of my favorite things in life is just meticulously going through a piece beat by beat. There are days when there’s nothing I’d rather be doing than being in a rehearsal hall, sometimes even more than performance. I sort of think, you know, if you don’t like love the really simple things like trying 85 different ways to put the coffee cup down, you’re probably in the wrong business. You gotta be happy with something really simple like that and I am. I’m sort of endlessly fascinated with all of that.
K.R. If there was anything you’d love for the community at large to know about Capital Stage, what would it be?
M.S. I’m just really excited to be here. We’re in this amazing location, in this amazing wrap around space, with easy, free parking across the street- and, you know, mid-town is just great. People are constantly just walking up to our space on J Street and 22nd and asking us “Hey, what’s going on in here?” which we, of course love. And Jonathan Williams started this great mural project where we have local artists designing murals on the front of the building for each of our shows, which has really been helping build our audience and we’re loving that! We are about to start including a piece about each muralist in the playbill for each show!
But also- and this is what it’s really about for me- there was a black out the other day in mid-town and Smud was saying that maybe we are going to have black outs every once in a while, and that’s just the best part about live theater- that there is always the possibility of failure. You never know what is going to happen and that’s what makes it so exciting. I read an interview with Bradley Cooper recently where he said that the difference between film and theater acting is that with film, it’s about capturing a moment. And with theater, it’s about capturing a whole world. And it’s a world that exists only if you happen to have been present in the room the moment it existed. And then it’s gone. And I just love that.
K.R. Is that your favorite thing about theater?
M.S. Theater just so intensely magnifies what it is to be a human being, bumps, warts and all, that it really allows people to look into other people’s lives and feel what’s it’s like to be there for just a moment. And that’s just thrilling to me. Really hard to do. But thrilling when you hit it.
To find out more about Capital Stage’s Season and their upcoming education programs, please visit capstage.org