Stephen Fredericks (left) receiving the Sara Spencer Award from his mentor Dr. Don Doyle (right) from the American Alliance for Theatre & Education; awarded for making a significant contribution to the field of professional theatre for young audiences.
Our Behind-the-Scenes Feature 5 includes a brief Q&A with folks behind the scenes at our member theatres. This week, we caught up with The Growing Stage's Founder & Executive Director, Stephen Fredericks. Here's what he had to say.
1. How did you get into your line of work? (and how long have you been doing it?)
I took a class in Children's Theatre in college thinking it was an easy A. I didn't expect to be completely and totally bitten by the genre. I guess I'm an example of the power of teachers - mine from that class remains a mentor to this day.
2. What/Who was your main inspiration for pursing a career in the arts?
Theatre was a part of my life from the beginning. My father directed plays on the community level and put me on the stage at a very young age. I was one of the fortunate ones who grew up with the arts as a natural part of my life and routine. There were many times when I was going through my troubled youth years that this outlet of expression saved me from taking many wrong turns.
3. What lessons has your work life taught you?
That the process can be the most rewarding part; that while individual praise is nice, it's better when shared; that no one succeeds alone - we are merely reflections of those who have helped shape us throughout our life.
4. What is your proudest career moment thus far?
Opening night of The Palace Theatre on March 1, 1996. Few thought we could accomplish the re-opening of the facility, and it was made possible by many friends and family members. It was a magical night.
5. What advice do you have for someone just starting out in the field?
Be sincere. Have faith in your ability, but be willing to learn and not stop listening. Also, be reliable - no one wants to work with someone they can't count on. If you say you are going to do something, do it. Be willing to clean toilets...we all have had to at sometime!
**Okay we HAVE to ask! What do you love about New Jersey theatre?
I love the creativity in a community environment that extends from the families that patronize our theatre to the benefactors who support our efforts, and to the artistic peers we have the honor to share the state with.