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Art & Life with Dane CT Leasure

Today we’d like to introduce you to Dane CT Leasure.

Dane, please kick things off for us by telling us about yourself and your journey so far.
I have always been a storyteller. When I was young, I would create entire worlds and stories to keep myself busy. My grandparents and parents would tell me stories of times past, family history (true or not), and old wives tales. I ate up every minute. I would re-enact these stories and put on shows for my whole family, my, at times, reluctant sisters or just my stuffed animals. So, it was really no surprise to anyone in my family when I wanted to go into theatre. I think that most families dread that news, but my family was very supportive.

I believe that all societies need storytellers to bring humanity’s light and darkness to center stage and expose it. Without that, how can we be true to ourselves? Theatre is how I express these stories. I quickly found out as I progressed through my career that I was not going to be an actor. Instead, I found myself as a director, looking to the larger picture and how all the pieces fit together.

Through my career as a theatre director, I have found my passion. Again, I have always been a storyteller, now I tell these stories to audiences and connect with them. Even if they never talk to me directly, they have heard my voice and I have had an impact on them.

Can you give our readers some background on your art?
As a theatre director, I love the aspect of collaboration. I get to come to the table with an idea for the show. Maybe, a Shakespeare plays set in the 1930s — through the lens of the depression. Always enhancing the story, not overpowering it with a concept. Then I begin conversations with the design team and get to hear their ideas and directions they may want to go, based off of my initial concept. From there, the story starts to take shape. Designers give me a setting, clothing appropriate for the period, specific props that would work for that time, and dynamic lighting and sound again, to enhance the story.

Then, work begins with the actors. To bring to life this story, while making it relevant to our audience. Understanding how their characters fit into the world we have created and how to connect with the audience in a meaningful way. Finding the advocate for the story. This is a character the audience can attach to and feel like they are represented onstage.

Then, the actors and the design meet and you get an explosion of energy and new creativity. This launches us into the final week before we present it to the missing actor in our story, the audience. That night, when finally the actor, design, idea, and audience are all together is the most rewarding moment as a director, and ultimately why I do this job.

Do you think conditions are generally improving for artists? What more can cities and communities do to improve conditions for artists?
I think that theatre does struggle to keep itself as a profession that pays its artist. I think the best thing to do is go to a theatre and buy a ticket and see a show. It is hard to keep the lights on while trying to pay people. You don’t have to be a big money donor (if you can that is always helpful), but the ticket you purchase is valuable. Don’t just go see the big theatre shows, go see some storefront theatre as well. You may find you enjoy that more.

What’s the best way for someone to check out your work and provide support?
About to direct A Christmas Carol in Akron, OH at Rubber City Theatre.

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Image Credit: and Dane CT Leasure

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