Hey David! Thanks so much for sitting down with me today to chat. Can you tell me a little about your experience with Class 6 Theatre?
Eric Schoen invited me to be one of the founding members of the Board of Directors on which I served through the company's first two years. During this time I created the company's website, and I continue to volunteer as a resource when the company needs a programmer.
I’ve also had the pleasure of being an artist with the company. I played Austin in Class6’s zany production of The Bible: The Complete Word of God (abridged). I have very fond memories of the run including a performance to a sold out house at the Shepherd of the Hills Church in Scottsdale that I will never forget for its energy and joy. I’m thrilled to be directing Sylvia this season.
And we're glad to have you! What would you say about this project excites you?
Sylvia is A.R. Gurney’s ode to our canine friends and is a masterpiece of modern theatre. Many people have confided to me that Sylvia is their favorite play. Personally, I’ve fallen in love with the script. Having a quality script has attracted some outstandingly talented artists. So what really excites me about this project is the cast and creative artists that have been assembled for the production. So, I’m eagerly anticipating what they will bring into the rehearsal hall and the stage.
We can't wait either! In your opinion, what makes this story important to share?
Sylvia is great literature because its message is timeless: dogs remind us to live life in the moment and are our guides to unconditional love. Sylvia was written in the 1990’s in a pre-9/11, pre-Great-Recession world. However, I find the script just as relevant today as it was when it was written. We all struggle, as Kate and Greg do, in finding relevance in our rapidly changing world. In our daily struggles we can easily lose our bearings. Dogs can’t save the world per se, but dogs have a lot to teach us if we are willing to observe their genius. Whether you are a pet owner or not, there’s a deep satisfaction that awaits everyday in being grounded and observant of the astonishing world around us. Sylvia brings that message home in an entertaining, humorous and touching way.
You've been so involved in theatre community as an actor, board member, and now a director, can I ask about your vision for the future of local theatre in Phoenix?
It is just too easy to stay at home and watch entertainment from our couch. Because we are so spread out here, Phoenix is a city that can easily isolate each of us in our living rooms. Also, with streaming video, DVR and DVD box sets, we no longer share a communal experience through the television either. Young as I am, I still remember talking about SNL skits on the playground or Seinfeld episodes around the water cooler. Everyone could relate because everyone watched the same thing. These days are gone, and it is a reality we have to accept. Theatre provides the chance to bring us together again in a shared communal experience that is essential to a vibrant, shared society.
The recent loss of Actors Theatre of Phoenix and the previous loss of Arizona Jewish Theatre Company, as well as others, have been body blows to theatre artists and audiences across the valley. I’m so grateful to the dogged (no pun intended) tenaciousness of Class 6 theatre that continues to offer shows to our community. As gas prices return to previous highs and beyond and we face future economic downturns, more stress will be placed on our cultural establishment that relies on corporate and individual donations. We as a society will again have to rethink how to bring ourselves together for shared experiences. Social media, streaming video and other virtual communication are ways to share our perspectives, but I feel that we need and will always crave the human breath and live voice communicating the human experience. Creative, heartfelt, imaginative theatre will have a place in Phoenix’s future. I believe companies like Class 6 Theatre show us how it can be done with few resources and agile thinking. We have a lot of talented artists in Phoenix and the ranks are growing as the city attracts refugees from other markets and our young artists develop their skills. I’m hopeful many small venues for their expression will rise from the ashes of these cherished cultural organizations that have served us and delighted us for so many years.
Thank you for your dedication to the local arts and culture of Phoenix. So, what’s up next for you?
Unfortunately, I was one of the many actors who fell victim to Actors Theatre of Phoenix closing its doors. I was cast in ATP’s upcoming production of Stage Kiss, which was cancelled. So now I’m looking forward to auditions for Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night at Class 6 Theatre and to the airing of Food Ball on Cox Channel 7 Saturday mornings, a game show I host.
Thank you so much for your time! We are all very excited for this hilarious production!
David Dickinson, a programmer turned theatre artist, has been privileged to be a company member at Childsplay, an internationally recognized theatre for young audiences, for the past seven seasons. At Childsplay, he has played many character roles and performed over a thousand times for children all over the state of Arizona and in Las Vegas. David has also toured Southern California with the La Jolla Playhouse’s Performance Outreach Program and entertained the youth of Belgium and The Netherlands on tour with Speeltheater Holland. Recent stage work includes The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane at Childsplay and Opus at Actors Theatre of Phoenix. David is passionate about the script development process and has been involved as an actor in the development of new works through the Write Now! national play development conference, the Hormel Festival of New Plays and Musicals at Phoenix Theatre and several development workshops at Childsplay. On camera David recently hosted Food-Ball, a reality-TV cooking competition for teens. He is represented by the Ford Robert Black Agency and is an Associate Artists at Megaw Actors Studio. In his spare time, he enjoys learning French, playing violin and tinkering on the piano, banjo and harmonica. www.davidjdickinson.com