Chip Decker is the Artistic Director at Actor’s Theatre of Charlotte. But what the heck does that mean? Does he stand around saying, “Beige, paint the stage beige. That will get everyone’s attention.” NO! Does he choose which pieces of art hang in the hallways and the lobby? NO! He does fifty million little things everyday to make sure that all the productions look and sound as good as they possibly can. If that doesn’t explain it enough here is the definition provided by Wikipedia:
The artistic director of a theatre company is the individual with the over-arching artistic control of the theatre’s production choices, directorial choices, and overall artistic vision.
Got it? Good. But wait, there’s more, especially for Chip who has been with ATC for around 15 years. He was gracious enough to take a few minutes out of his day to answer a few questions for us.
1. How long have you been with ATC?
I started as their part time Technical Director in 1996 after doing the show, Dark Rapture. In 2001 I took over as Artistic Director and in 2002 I went full time. So, 15-ish years.
2. Knowing that most director’s were actor’s first, what was the first show you acted in and what character?
Good grief. How many years did I play a Sheppard in the church play? too many to count. But I guess my first “real” role was in the 6th grade as a private detective in some silly mystery play. The name of which, escapes me, but the character name was Jake.
3. What was the first show you directed?
4. Of all the productions you have been a part of with ATC, what was your favorite and why?
You know, I really hate this question, and I get asked it quite often. It’s like asking the Dugger family which of their 19 kids is best. So I will give you my top 6. 2 musicals, 2 dramas and 2 comedies.
Violet. Beautifully realized from all aspects, design/direction/performances/lighting/set. And the musicality of the show is brilliant.
Hedwig and the Angry Inch. Amazing score and book. and I had the privilege to play bass behind two different and amazing Hedwigs. A show like this makes you realize why the Rolling Stones loved to perform live for so long.
The Pillowman. Once in a while, every moment, every detail of a show, from the script to the back stage crew just gels and is perfect. Does not happen often but when it does, it’s magic. Pillowman was magic.
Take Me Out. See above.
Flaming Guns Of The Purple Sage: When a show has you laughing as much on closing night as on opening night, it’s a really well done show.
The Lieutenant of Inishmore: An amazing story by the same writer as The Pillowman plus a strong and well executed cast and dozens of technical effects which were amazing to see live on stage night after night. Plus a live cat on stage! Hitting his mark night after night! What’s not to love?
5. Which ATC production of them all did you find the most challenging to put together?
Every show, even a one person production, has challenges. Sometimes it starts with casting, sometimes it’s an effect or stage issue or wardrobe snafu but every show brings its own set of challenges and opportunities with it. So my answer is, “The next one”.
6. What show would you like ATC to produce that the company hasn’t yet done?
There are numerous high powered quality shows out there, and a lot goes into determining if we can present it properly and professionally. If money or casting opportunities were not an issue, I would love us to present Lynn Nottage’s Ruined. Also, I think we have the talent here to write and present an amazing new musical. I would love to find an underwriter to help us finance a new musical, much like we had when we created Southern Rapture. Oh yeah, Add Southern Rapture to my list of favorites. The finest locally produced, locally commissioned new play ever to come from Charlotte. I know we can do that with a musical.
7. What show would you like to bring back for an encore run?
Selfishly, Hedwig. But we do still get an amazing number of requests for Flaming Guns of the Purple Sage. Something funny about cheerios in the ass. So maybe Flaming Guns.
8. For people who may not be familiar with The Actor’s Theatre of Charlotte, what is the one thing you would really want them to know about ATC?
We work exceptionally hard at presenting the most interesting seasons year after year but more importantly our emphasis on quality and professional productions is second to none. When you come to one of our productions, you will enjoy your whole evening and feel that the investment of your time has been well worth it.
Thanks Chip. Make sure to say “Hi” to Chip when you come see the next show Cuttin” Up, which opens February 15.