Production Blog

A behind the scenes peek at rehearsals, artistic choices, artist interviews, and the daily business of running a theatre.

A word with director Garret Storms about the feel of "Deer"

Q: With Deer being a world premiere, Stage West audiences will be the very first to see this show produced. It is billed as “a grisly, pitch-black comedy”, but with a bit of a longer word count, how would you describe this script?

A: It’s actually quite difficult to pin this play down into a genre or to choose one main theme. It is boisterously hilarious and snarky, sometimes sad and most times dark, and also gruesome and terrifying, while being strange and whimsical. It encompasses all of the emotions that culminate when you are at the pivotal edge of something - and that edge could be the edge of oblivion or the edge of possibility and what happens when those are the same edge. It’s about being at a breaking point (and we’ve all stumbled upon that point before), and it’s about how beginnings and endings are really the same thing. And it’s about fighting and discovering. It’s about relationships and the work that goes into them. Above all it’s about love, as all things usually are at their core. It’s about all of these things...and a deer. 


"Deer" playwright Aaron Mark about the origin of the show

Aaron Mark:

Back in 2012, a friend of mine had just returned to New York from a weekend away at her house in the Poconos, on the drive to which she’d hit a deer. Or rather, a deer hit her car - I remember her insisting the deer darted out in front of the car out of nowhere, so it was the deer’s fault, obviously - Regardless, the animal was critically injured, groaning helplessly on the road in front of her blood-spattered bumper, and what followed, she said, was a moment of truth for her and the friend who’d been in the car with her. The deer wasn’t going to survive, so shouldn’t one of them put it out of its misery? Isn’t that the humane thing to do? The obligation, even? But which one of them would do it? And how? And what’s revealed about someone who doesn’t mind getting their hands dirty? And about someone who’d rather let it linger in agony? I was obsessed by the idea of this moment, and by the circumstances under which facing such a moment might push someone over the edge. How do we know when and how to put something we’re afraid to lose out of its misery? I don’t have an answer to this question, and that’s why I wrote the play

Find out more


A word with director Emily Scott Banks about the test of time

Working on scenery positioning with cast member Garret Storms, left, Emily Scott Banks is directing her third play for Stage West in Fort Worth.

Q: Stupid F*cking Bird is a contemporary and irreverent riff on Chekhov’s The Seagull - it takes the classic Russian comedy and turns it inside out, bringing it into the modern day. What do you think it is about this story that has stood the test of time and has inspired this provocative, bold new “sort-of” adaptation?

A: Anton Chekhov’s The Seagull has been translated into every major language, and been adapted over 20 times for theatre, film, ballet and opera; yet plot-wise, seemingly little actually happens. The central focus of the work is the prominence of feelings, which in their truthful intensity become the action. Tension between the older and younger generations becomes a metaphor for the war between established and emerging art, vibrancy and death, fame and obscurity. Big stuff, sounds like a possible snooze - and yet the play, both in the original and especially in Aaron Posner’s scatological yet ultimately respectful version, is terribly, darkly funny. Mordant and somehow optimistic, this story has delighted audiences and theater-makers for over 130 years and shows no signs of slowing down.

Photo by Paul Moseley pmoseley [at]  "Working on scenery positioning with cast member Garret Storms, left, Emily Scott Banks is directing her third play for Stage West in Fort Worth." The image accompanied the article:

A chat with SFB actor Matthew Grondin about "the meta"

Q: "Stupid F*cking Bird" is a show that is very aware of itself - that is to say that the characters know that they are in a play and, at times, comment to the audience about their role in the story. What do you find interesting or challenging about this conceit and what excites you about this play?

A: I love this play, and the world that Posner has written. One thing that really excites me about doing live theatre, is finding those moments in rehearsal when you, as your character, feel several different emotions about one given circumstance all at the same time. Maybe you’re pissed off about something, but then you feel sad for the other person involved - but then also guilty that you got pissed off. And then maybe even a little satisfied that they feel bad - but then you’re mad at yourself for feeling that way! And that, I think, is what happens in real life. Rarely do I find that I have just one single thought about things. I think there’s often a struggle. And Posner has written characters that really allow you to explore that struggle. And if we as actors have challenged ourselves to dig into this during rehearsals, each performance will have many different colors that pop up and surprise everyone on stage! Maybe one night you’re more upset, and the next night you find that same moment a little more ridiculous. But you’ve explored the world of your character enough to trust all that is correct - and then you are free to just communicate and live with the other actors on stage.

An added layer of this that’s particularly fun in this specific play, is that there are almost several worlds that are all happening at the same time. (I’ve never been in a play where the word “meta” was used so much in rehearsals!) I’m playing the role of Dev - but in a way, I’m also playing myself (Matt) playing the role of Dev - and being able to comment on the circumstances that Dev is finding himself in. And because of that, it adds a whole other level of feelings and emotions that may or may not be perfectly jiving with each other. And that’s messy and complicated. And, for better or worse - that’s how life is. And I think a big reason people go to the theatre is to see others in real-life circumstances, and then get a snapshot into how they deal with it.

Exciting things coming up in 2017

in between

posted Sunday, Dec 18

We can't divulge many details just yet, but we are super excited behind the scenes!

1. Education has programming news that will be posted after the first of the year that is super cool. More info to come. 

2. There's at least one new creative project (and possibly 2) incubating. One began as a decision to participate in this. (Which you will see if you click the link, got squashed). But the creative spirit is not so easily squashed. And so...more info to come. (And yes of course we will "abide by the wishes of the Estate and its lawyers".)

3. We are in the drawing and planning stages of some long-needed remodeling and experience upgrades. We'll write about them here as things solidify.

4. Thanks to those of you who spoke up for the needs of our mobility-impaired patrons! We have reached out to the City of Fort Worth and Fort Worth South and there is a plan being developed to rectify this situation. It may take a year and it will almost assuredly result in the loss of a few front parking spaces, but we agree that it's important that everyone have access and feel welcome at Stage West.

5. Hope you all made it to see MURDER FOR TWO!  I am going to go see it again tomorrow. Hope I can get a seat! 

In the meantime, check out this cool interview on the Avert Your Eyes podcast, hosted by Michael Gibson, Jr., with our Executive Producer Dana Schultes The interview features some history of Dana, some history of Stage West and its inception (in the ghost town that was downtown Fort Worth in the 70's ... handmade coffee can footlights in a sandwich shop). Funimation voice-overs. North Texas Neighborhood Play Contest/Festival of the Kid, listening to the voices of our youth. "Everyone has a story." Motherhood and being an executive. Perfection and doing one's best. Disconnect...


2 more things:

6. We are looking forward to this video series! #LegacyLeaders


7. I (jen in marketing) have been getting inspired by Bread and Puppet theatre!



jen schultes, Marketing Director

I had a vision...

posted October 12

I had a vision of Linda as Ann with an enormous slice of quiche hovering in her vicinity as a way to remind everyone that not only does Stage West have a great show on right now, but also on Sunday the Lobby Cafe serves BRUNCH and there's QUICHE! I really felt like people should know about this. But then I looked at the reservation book and there were hardly any seats left for the remaining brunches in the show! Dang! That's GREAT!  But, now my ad was a tease! And yet, I still had a picture of Linda as Ann with an enormous slice of quiche! I just needed to share this somewhere (and also tell you, if you want to get tickets to this show, time's a wastin' and those seats are going fast. Call the Box Office now! 817-784-9378)

P.S. I have heard talk of adding some additional Wednesday dates! Stay tuned!


The Ghost Lights

An email came in today from our new Technical Director Natalie R. Mabry. She had, she wrote, installed "Ghost Lights" on the stages. Interesting! I thought. As the Marketing Director, I'd never heard of a Ghost Light, except from folks talking about visting Marfa maybe. However, since I was a theater kid in High School, I know that theater is filled with weird traditions and interestingly-named things. I suspected there would be a good story behind whatever the heck Ghost Lights were. Plus it is October, the traditional month of ghosts, how could I NOT look into it?!

And I was not disappointed! It turns out that a Ghost Light is a light set up center stage and illuminated whenever the theater is unoccupied by the living staff. Wooooo! "Ghost lights provide opportunities for ghosts to perform onstage, thus appeasing them and preventing them from cursing the theater or sabotaging the set or production." Also, they also make it easier for the living staff to not trip over random objects when you make your way to the Ancient Filing Cabinet or go to fish programs out from under seats in a pitch black theater. Up until now, staff generally illuminated their path with their phone as they threaded their way amongst pieces of ancient Troy or through Ann Richard's office. So, three cheers for Natalie and the Ghost Lights! And break a leg to our ghostly performers. 

Jen Schultes, Marketing Director

Website Updates

We are moving things, adding things, and reskinning things (as the web folks call it). Please pardon the dust.

CUT TO Several weeks later
...So yeah...I guess this is the first post on our newly implemented production blog.