Richard Heller is the Artistic Director of Theatre Convivio, the new community theater hosted by Ashland’s Bellview Grange. The first production of Theatre Convivio will be “The Fantasticks” to be produced this August. Richard and I sat down to talk at Noble Coffee in Ashland one sunny afternoon.
EH: What is the job of an artistic director?
RH: A good leader brings people in who can do a really good job and lets them do their work. As the sea is the ruler of a thousand streams, because it lies beneath them, the artistic director has to hold space for the community, be a consistent and calming presence, weave the various elements together, and work cohesively and collaboratively with others, being a guiding influence, never a dominating influence.
There is a hierarchical structure to theater. On the creative side, a play’s director has a vision about a certain work and wants to bring that to the stage. The artistic director of a company has to make the choices of plays so that they bring a consistent message about what the company is about.
As Artistic Director of Theatre Convivio, I want to choose projects that emphasize humanness, transformation and the actor-audience relationship. It means touching the hearts and souls of the actors and the audience so that everyone is transformed through the magic of theater. It’s a beautiful collaborative work.