Standing on the main stage, looking out at 400 seats and surrounded by the whir of set production, 35-year-old Scott RC Levy looks even more at ease in the Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center's SaGaJi Theatre than he does in his new office.
Fresh from his first week on the job, Levy's spent the week learning how to open things (those electronic access cards can be tricky) and exploring his new home. Before arriving in Colorado, Levy served as the producing artistic director at the Penobscot Theatre in Bangor, Maine; prior to that, he was the co-producer of the Playwrights Horizons Theater School at New York University (where he got his bachelor's and master's degrees) and a teaching artist with the Guggenheim Museum.
As the new Fine Arts Center Theatre Company's director of performing arts and producing artistic director, Levy has already selected a diverse mix of plays — Assassins and Hairspray among them — for the upcoming production season, which starts in September. He's also revamping subscription options, instituting post-performance talk-backs, and brainstorming ways to take advantage of the FAC's "unique" multi-disciplinary focus. And that's just the beginning.
Indy: So, what is your job, exactly?
SL: As producing artistic director I set the vision, select the season, contract all of the artists, actors, musicians, designers for the theater productions, and also look at additional programming. ... Then the second piece of the business is that the performing arts includes dance and music and the media arts, and so we're looking at ways to incorporate those into what happens here at the Fine Arts Center, and also to connect it to what's happening at the museum and the Bemis School of Art.
Indy: How did you go about selecting the shows for the next season?
SL: I wanted to create a diverse season of plays and musicals that would not only be attractive to those very important and long-standing subscribers, but also to create new audiences. That said, of course, I have my own artistic vision, and so everything in the season is American, and the oldest piece is 75 years old. Twentieth- and 21st-century theater is where my passion lies, and so I'm happy to showcase that.
Indy: What additional programming are you planning in regard to education and play development?
SL: I'm so new that I don't know exactly how that's going to manifest itself yet, but it's very important to me that we are in the community as much as possible. I hope that we will get to a point where we will be able to tour productions into the schools, and also do workshops in the schools. ... We are doing student matinees for A Year With Frog and Toad and Of Mice and Men, so we'll have an opportunity to have a lot of kids in here.
With the new play development, there are a couple of spaces here in the building that we are looking at re-outfitting to be a real second performance space. That'll present the opportunity for us to have a reading series that will attract nationally recognized playwrights to bring their work to Colorado Springs to have a workshop.
Indy: You received many awards and recognitions at the Penobscot Theatre, but what stands out to you as a success while you were there?
SL: Primarily, that I was able to double the audience in the five years that I was there. So, really getting new people into the theater. And that was both a result of the quality of the programming and the work we were doing inside the building, as well as what we were able to do in terms of restoring the exterior of the building, and recognizing the power of theater and performing arts in the economic and community development of the city.
Indy: Would you say, then, that it's a goal of yours to increase the audience size at the FAC?
SL: I hope we get to a point where we not only never have an empty seat in the theater, but because there's so many people who want to come see our shows we have to add performances to the schedule. Theater's no fun if no one's watching it.