Occupation: Actor/director, former artistic director of A Contemporary Theatre
Why do you continue to work in Seattle?
I suppose the glib answer is because I can; because people continue to hire me. Another reason, and in many ways the most significant one, is that I have two kids here who are both in high school, and as a result I've made the decision to stay, even though a part of me has often felt that I should go elsewhere. But another reason for staying is that over the course of 25 years--and it's been 25 years--I've developed a series of relationships with people I like collaborating with: Bob Wright or Larry Ballard or David Pichette or Marianne Owen. We've all done so much work together that when we start a project, we can kind of just cut to the chase and get down to the work itself, without any of the sniffing around that inevitably comes with doing a new production. Plus, they're fun.
How many people in Seattle do you know who make a living from theater alone?
Discounting the artistic directors and the people who have salaries, because obviously Sharon [Ott, of Seattle Repertory Theatre], Gordon [Edelstein of ACT], Bart [Sheer, of Intiman]--all those people make their living. But as far as freelance artists... I guess Larry Ballard does, though part of what he does is teaching. [John] Procaccino does.... It's a tricky question, because some people are able to do it because their spouses--who may or may not be in theater--are contributing to the household income. But then a lot of other people who I think are terrific have had to supplement their acting work with real jobs.
So it's not a lot.
Very few. Even people who are very busy with commercial work will supplement their incomes. My friend Kit Harris works with a nursery; Bob Wright has been helping build houses with Mark Chamberlain, another actor; and Katie Forgette has been working at a bank, part-time.
What are you doing this fall?
After we open St. Nicolas at ACT [which Steitzer is directing], I'm going to be putting together this radio project called New Waves; then I'm directing The Odd Couple at ACT; then I'll be acting at the Children's Theater in Prince Brat and the Whipping Boy; and then at the end of the year I'll be directing at the Village Theater.