North/South Artist Interview: Steve Best

This past Tuesday, the North/South month long Workshop kicked off at the Department of Cultural Affairs as part of their INCUBATION program. We are so excited! We have lived with an ever-evolving script for months, but finally we can see the script start to come to life in the actors’ bodies and voices! We will be documenting the process here in our Collaboration in Action Series, but also on the DCA blog (will give you guys the link soon!)
Check out our first Artist Interview with North/South Lead Script Developer from Team Bailiwick: Steve Best. He and Miranda (Team TL) have been guiding our script as a team since June, and we couldn’t be more thrilled to spend a few minutes picking his brain… to say the least, the Lunáticas are huge fans of Mr. Best… read on to see why…
1.  Tell us a little bit about your Theatrical/Artistic Background.
I was never one of those people who knew they wanted to be a performer since they were five.  I often wonder what that must be like.  I was actually on a whole other planet for a while.  I was on a pre-med track in college before I decided to audition for the Theatre program at the University of Michigan.  It was one of the best decisions I ever made.  After graduating, I moved to Chicago and I’ve been working the theatre scene primarily as an actor for almost 10 years now.  I’ve have had the pleasure to work with so many great companies and artists.  I love this town.

What is your artistic perspective? What inspired your artistic perspective/aesthetic preference?
Wow, that’s a tough one because I feel like its constantly evolving.  I’ve can’t lie – I do love me some musicals.  I was exposed to a lot of them as a kid, via summer stock or touring shows, so I’m a sucker for good-old-fashioned, ridiculously overproduced, cheesy entertainment.  It was during my theatre junkie days in college probably when my aesthetic really started to mature.  Everything was so new to me.  I read a lot of American playwrights like Albee, O’Neill, Odets, Mamet, Shepherd and the like.  There was a rawness about their characters and circumstances that I loved.  I geeked out to Sondheim a lot (still do actually) which gave me a different perspective of what musicals could be compared to what I had experienced as a kid.  I also loved absurdity.  There’s really nothing I enjoy more than being completely engaged in a show where I have absolutely no idea what is going on.  It sticks with me for days. As I’ve aged I think I’ve become much more grounded in my perspective.  I really enjoy when theatre examines the human condition…  I have no idea what the definition of “human condition” is, by the way.  It just sounds fancy.  I’m also constantly drawn into character driven pieces – you know those masturbatory actory pieces where nothing really happens.  As an actor I know it’s important to have those “wants” to play for but as an audience member I always love to watch characters that are constantly searching for something.3.  How did you get involved in the North/South Plays?
A little bit by chance.  Bailiwick was looking for company members to be involved in the development process and I threw my name into the hat.  I did a lot of writing in college and put up a few of the shows I wrote, which turned out to be an amazing experience.   Ever since moving to Chicago I’ve only focused on acting, so when the opportunity presented itself… I pounced.

4.  What is the most exciting thing about this project?

The subject matter and collaborating with 10 or so other writers.  You don’t really see all the layers surrounding our borders until you peel back the skin and start digging into it.  And collaborating with so many other writers only adds more layers because each writer brings a different style and perspective to the piece.  The number of “a-ha” and “holy shit” moments that have come out of the development process have been amazing.  It’s been a very inspiring project to work on.

5.  What would you say is the most excruciating thing about this project?

The subject matter and collaborating with 10 or so other writers.  There’s soooooo much material and trying to capture every voice, story, theme, topic, issue is practically impossible.  Plus every day there are new reports and stories coming out to draw upon which is great but sooner or later you’ve got to just put the head down and plow forward.  Sometimes that’s hard to do with a writing team this big.  I’ve never collaborated on something like this so it took a while to figure out how to deal with it.  Hell, I have a hard enough time making sure my hands do what my mind tells them while writing.

6.  Any thoughts/nuggets/or advice to others who are considering or currently developing work in a collaborative format between companies?

Be open, respectful and flexible while staying true to your instincts.  Oh, and trust each other.  That’s probably the biggest one.  Everyone wants the same end result – the absolute best show possible.

7.  Any future projects/plugs/baby announcements?
For my next project I’ll be playing the lead role of Father in a little skit called “My Life”.  My wife and I are expecting our first child in September!!!  We can’t wait!  Actually, I should say the supporting role of Father.  My wife’s the superstar for this show.  We’ve sold out the initial run already and have just announced an open ended extension.

Stay tuned for more artist interviews! Up next.. hear from the other co-developer on The North/South Plays, Ensemble Member & Director of Artistic Development– Miranda Gonzalez! 
You can also follow more “backstsage” news about the North/South Plays on our
producing partner’s  blog:        
Love, Alex

2 thoughts on “North/South Artist Interview: Steve Best

  1. Pingback: Get to Know Steve Best « Bailiwick Backstage

  2. Pingback: Get to Know Steve Best

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