Wednesday, June 29, 2016
Spotlight On...Stephen Powell
Why theater?: Theater came to me later than usual. I don't mean experiencing theater (that came early when my New Yorker aunt took me and my sisters to Broadway shows), but participating in it (when I took the leap to audition for a community theater play). That first role ignited a passion that felt important and rewarding. I've been pursuing it ever since.
Tell us about A Stopping Place: This is a piece about how our individual struggles are both the glue and the repelling force in our relationships with each other. The bridge and the wall. It tells the universal story of a person who seeks reconciliation with the past in order to face the future, and the labyrinthine path to find resolution.
What inspired you to create A Stopping Place?: The spark of A Stopping Place ignited from the nature of what an actor faces when alone on stage but surrounded by people. There is an intrinsic element of 'space', both between actor and audience and between character and object. That concept began to tell its own story about connection: the inability to reach the audience physically but to appeal to them through performance; the paradox that being alone on stage infuses inanimate objects with character of their own; the sense that the performer feeds off the performance of the audience. I find these qualities analogous to the contours of all our relationships to each other as individuals. How we act toward others is not too far away from standing on a stage and reaching out into the darkness by any means possible. I became excited by the universality this form of the "one-man" show offers, and what else the aspects of the 'theatrical' tell us about the stakes of human connection.
What kind of theater speaks to you? What or who inspires you as an artist?: I say this constantly when talking about A Stopping Place: I love ambitious theater. Ambitious in form, in theme, in scope, in vision. Watching a show that makes you gasp, or cheer, or go pale is a clarion call to any actor to go back to your rehearsal space and build to those same moments.
If you could work with anyone you’ve yet to work with, who would it be?: I'm reluctant to say, because it may just come true and then where would I be?
What show have you recommended to your friends?: The Great God Pan, by Amy Herzog. It played a couple of years ago at Playwrights Horizons and left me breathless. I walked out of theater resolved to seek in every future performance the nuance and depth that those six actors showcased on that stage.
Who would play you in a movie about yourself and what would it be called?: When someone finds my life worth dramatizing, I'll have to ask them!
If you could go back in time and see any play or musical you missed, what would it be?: I will always regret missing the musical Passing Strange when I visited he city in 2008. That show was a gem that, when I saw the Spike Lee film, did for me what the best kind if theater does: it gave me a new and startling understanding of the world and myself.
What’s your biggest guilty pleasure?: Really?? Let's say... drinking coffee after sundown.
If you weren’t working in theater, you would be _____?: In an office, wondering what it would be like to be in a play.
What’s up next?: Aside from a workshop with the 600 Highwaymen (the experimental theater duo) there will be an announcement soon about the next step for A Stopping Place. Stay tuned!