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Dec 15, 2011

I Interview Artistic Directors Part 5: Marty Stanberry

Marty Stanberry

Hometown: Charleston, IL

Current Town: St. Louis, MO

Q:  Tell me about HotCity Theatre.

A:  HotCity Theatre was created from the merger of two small Equity Theatre Companies in 2005; HotHouse Theatre Company which was founded in 1997 and City Theatre which had its roots in a long-time community theatre which became professional in 2002. The company is dedicated to the development of new works as well as producing at least one modern classic per season. Plays must have an “edgy” quality to them in theme and/or subject matter.

Q:  How do you create your season?

A:  The season consists of 4 mainstage productions – one is “usually” a modern classic with some “name” recognition; one is a premiere of a script chosen from our “New Play Festival” the prior season and the other two are “usually” new plays straight from Broadway/Off-Broadway or Regional (such as The Humana Festival of New Plays). Our main theatre is a “less than 100 seat blackbox” so criteria includes size of cast (and cast-ability within the St. Louis artistic community) and technical requirements.

Q:  Tell me, if you will, a story from your childhood that explains who you are as an artist or as a person.

A:  I grew up in a small university town in Central Illinois. I was a child during the Vietnam Was era in the late 60’s/early 70’s and I remember all the cultural clashes going on in our country and on the local university campus. I had an Aunt who was very much into the arts and she would take me (along with siblings and cousins) to many of the university productions – one in particular was a version of Cinderella where somehow the production team had created a bubble around Cinderella during her transformation(s) – I remember being awestruck as a 6 year old, wanting to live in that magical world – a world that seemed more real to me than the one I was witnessing outside the theatre!

Q:  If you could change one thing about theater, what would it be?

A:  This is a “domino” issue: More importance on the art of theatre as a cultural element which would come from our education system and government support as it is in Britain and Canada.

Q:  If you could change one thing about your theater, what would it be?

A:  A larger venue. We were formerly in a large blackbox (200+audience capacity). The smaller venue has limited our play selection choices and design options.

Q:  What kind of theater excites you?

A:  Plays with action (drama is happening rather than discussed); Plays that challenge social mores, Plays that stimulate conversation and foster multiple points-of-view.

Q:  What do you aspire to in your work?

A:  To emotionally and/or intellectually affect our audiences.

Q:  Has your practice changed in the last ten years? Do you see changes in technology and culture changing how you work in the next ten years?

A:  Yes, we are much more focused on new works which has willingly forced us to keep on top of technological and cultural changes as they happen. We recently received a grant from PNC Bank to develop a new script where social media is the topic. Luckily we have a plethora of local university staff and resources to borrow/rent from.

Q:  What advice do you have for theater artists wishing to work at your theater?

A:  Visibility! All production personnel are paid, including box office and running crew and NO ONE is turned away who wants to volunteer for on-going or special event planning/running. Rarely is someone hired based on resume alone.