Getting to Know You: 20 Questions for Eric Evans

Ahh…post #3 in a series introducing you to some of Geva’s over 50 staff members. We’re all familiar with the proverb, “Give a man a fish, and he’ll eat for a day. Teach a man to fish and he’ll eat for a lifetime.” That’s what Geva’s education department is doing – not teaching people how to fish (although I’d be first in line to learn if they did offer classes) – but creating the artists and audiences of our future through training programs like the Summer Academy currently in our building and through workshops and presentations for students. The work they do is incredible, and often unsung. So, today, a shout out to the education staff across the room from me – and…

20 Questions for Eric Evans:

JW: Give us your basic details…

Eric EvansEric Evans, just beginning my 13th season with Geva (and my 8th as Geva’s Education Administrator). I’m from Buffalo, NY (born in September of 1969), went to South Park High School, have an amazing 17-year-old son named Henry, been a music obsessive since the age of 8 (and have the record collection to prove it), try to write daily (www.inkpublications.com).

JW: What’s the first play you remember seeing?

I don’t remember the first one that I saw but I do remember the first one that I was in – I was a fairy in an elementary school production of The Nutcracker. (Which, by the way, is about the extent of my acting career …)

JW: I think that’s my favorite question of all of these, finding out what people’s earliest memory of the theatre is. Where did you go to school? Did you study theatre?

I went to St. John Fisher College and graduated with a B.A. in History and Communication ( I was a double major) – minored in English. (So, basically, I read a lot of books.) And I then began graduate work on a M.A. in history at Portland State University in Portland, Oregon – had planned to become a history professor.

JW: When did you know you were destined to work in a theatre?

Since I backed into theatre and came to it later than most, I don’t know if I was destined but as soon as I met Marge Betley, Geva’s former Literary Manager and Resident Dramaturg, and understood her job, I knew that I’d found a home and a calling (theatre education and dramaturgy), a place where so many of my interests and passions and obsessions could fight it out amongst themselves.

JW: What would you say is the best part of your job?

Exposing students to all of the facets of theatre – no question. Had someone shown me, as a student, the entrance to all of the paths available in theatre I would have found my way here so much sooner – and been all the happier for it.

JW: Tell us about a favorite project.

The Stage Door Project for A Raisin in the Sun during the 2012-13 season. Watching that group of students completely reevaluate that story and the lives of those characters because of such a well-considered and well-executed design concept was like witnessing a perfect storm of theatre education. It’s why I keep showing up for work each day.

JW: Isaac Newton once said, “If I have seen further it is by standing on the shoulders of giants.” Which theatrical giants’ shoulders do you stand on?

Skip Greer, Geva’s Director of Education / Artist in Residence; Marge Betley, Geva’s former Literary Manager and Resident Dramaturg; Kathryn Moroney, Geva’s former Associate Director of Education; honestly, I have learned something from almost every theatre person I’ve worked with (even if it was learning what NOT to do …) Dr. Donald Bain, my undergraduate history professor and advisor, for showing me how to respect an opinion without  necessarily agreeing with it – maybe not a theatre giant but a teacher and a lesson that I’ve gone back to again and again (in and out of the theatre world.)

JW: If you had a job in theatre that wasn’t the one you actually have, what would it be? (Talent for this role is not required…)

Working in the prop shop. I am continually amazed at the work that happens in all of our shops but am particularly envious of the prop shop’s work – probably because it is so far beyond my capabilities. I can think and write and discuss but put a piece of wood and some tools in my hands? Well, that’s another story entirely …

JW: When people ask you to describe Rochester, what do you say?

That I’m from Buffalo …

JW: Hmm. I don’t quite know how to take that… What’s your favorite Rochester-area attraction?

The public market. And then our proximity to Niagara Falls.

JW:  If you were stranded on a desert island, and could only bring a playwright with you (I know – that’s sort of random, isn’t it?), who would you bring?

Just one? Well, I do love Sarah Ruhl’s work. Can we get her a boat back to the main land and then have another playwright take her place? Maybe Tracy Letts?

JW: Is there a place you haven’t yet been that you’d most like to visit?

Prague. And then Portugal.

JW: What books are on your nightstand right now?

Juliet, Naked by Nick Hornby; The Ticking Is The Bomb by Nick Flynn; Missing You, Metropolis by Gary Jackson; The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald; The Simpsons: An Uncensored, Unauthorized History; The Great Rock, Pop & Soul Quiz; The July 2013 issue of Downbeat magazine.

JW: What are you looking forward to most in the upcoming season?

Clybourne Park and Informed Consent

JW: There’s been a rash of kitten and puppy adoption amongst the Geva staff this summer. Are you a dog person or a cat person?

I’ve been a cat person most of my life but lately been considering the presence of a lazy bulldog in my life.

JW: What person from history most interests you?

Far, far too many to name just one. But a few would be – Benjamin Franklin, John Adams, Gertrude Stein, Son House, John Coltrane and Walt Whitman.

JW: Our first production of the 2013-2014 season features pie – what’s your favorite kind?

Pecan.

JW: If you were going to take a road trip, and could only bring three people with you, who would you bring?

My son, Henry, my girlfriend, Kathy, and my best friend, Larry. (see, they’re all music obsessives like me so it would easily be the best sound tracked road trip ever. You know, over the din of the four of us arguing over what to play next.)

JW: What would we find in the backseat of your car?

Usually just my backpack, my writing bag and the window shade to keep my car less humid in the summer.

JW: I think your car is much too clean…

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