In 2019, the Beck Center For The Arts' artistic director Scott Spence celebrated his 100th directional production at Beck Center with the whimsical and mystical Matilda. Now, two years later, Spence gets to celebrate another personal milestone by overseeing Beck Center’s 2021-22 season, marking his 30th anniversary with the West Side theater production company. Ahead of the season’s start with Broadway Bound on Sept. 10, we sat down with Spence to get his thoughts on the seven-show season and his personal achievements.
Q: What’s it like to be on the cusp of your 30th season as Beck Center’s artistic director?
A: It’s an emotional moment, especially considering how last year went. I’m excited to get back on the horse. I’ve been so lucky. When I first took this job, I was thrilled and excited to get it. Once I got here, I quickly realized that this could be a home for a long, long time. My mode has always been slow growth; I’ve never tried to do something so audacious that it feels it turns the institution on its head overnight. All the changes we’ve done have been slow and calculated, but the journey has been expansive.
Q: Why were these seven shows picked for this year?
A: Some of the shows are carryovers from last year. We were halfway through the rehearsal process for Meteor Shower [running this season from April 1, 2022 to May 1, 2022] last year before we had to cancel, so I’m really excited to finally be able to get that on the stage. As far as the season as a whole, I wanted to keep things a little light. We have The Exonerated which is a drama and then Broadway Bound is more like a “dramedy.” This season is pretty lighthearted, but some of these plays also have some topics that tie into social issues happening today.
Q: What has the process been like in finding actors and staff since things have restarted?
A: We’re really just dipping our toes in the water right now. I don’t know what the actors are thinking but I suspect there’s a real hunger to get back to it. I’m hoping we hit the ground running to get back to where we were before everything shut down. We have a really robust arts scene with people who seem to be eager to get back to work, so I’m hoping they come back in droves.