Drew Martorella made his way to Colorado Springs from Beckley, W.Va., by way of Santa Fe, N.M., Los Angeles and New Jersey. As the executive director of TheatreWorks at UCCS, the 47-year-old is responsible for the theater company, which has eight productions planned for the coming school year and sponsors a tour of British theater in January. Married to Caitlin Green and father to newborn Jack, Martorella took some time this week to show a slice of his life in the theater.
Describe your job at TheatreWorks.
First, it’s about as fun and rewarding a job as I can imagine. I am privileged to have helped make TheatreWorks grow for UCCS, which has played a big part in cementing the institution’s connection to the region. My job is a mix of small chores and big ideas, but it boils down to building an environment where we can both raise and earn revenue to sustain our work. We do this by building and cementing connections with our audience and by adding cultural value to the region.
How is TheatreWorks affiliated with UCCS?
Our program is emblematic of UCCS’ commitment to the Pikes Peak region’s cultural life. TheatreWorks is a cultural outreach program of UCCS. We receive some administrative support from UCCS, but most of our funding comes from memberships, tickets and contributions. So essentially, they planted the seed, and our staff and board make it grow. It is worth mentioning that TheatreWorks is a professional theater, not a student theater. We are one of six theaters in the state with a seasonal agreement with Actors’ Equity Association and one of only two such theaters in southern Colorado.
How has your job changed since 1995 when you started at TheatreWorks?
In the early days I was focused more on the production side. That is to say, I played a much larger role in producing each project. Now, my role has shifted into more pure administrative and development activities.
Tell me about Murray Ross, the artistic director, and your relationship.
Murray is the founding artistic director and is really the heart and soul of our theater. Our work ultimately reflects his aesthetic and his vision. My role is to support and sustain our artistic work.
What is coming up on your schedule?
We have nothing on at the moment. We have NT Live performances coming up this month and we are preparing for our 2014-2015 season which begins in August. We begin in August with “As You Like It” at Rock Ledge Ranch. In September we will produce “Ludlow, 1914” (co-produced with Denver’s LIDA project) which will dramatize the events of the Ludlow massacre. In October we go to the beach for a Gidget-meets-Hitchcock production of “Psycho Beach Party.”
We’ll remount one of our most successful holiday comedies, “The Lying Kind,” in December. “Detroit” is a new play and Pulitzer Prize finalist … we’ll do that in December. We co-produce the student main-stage production in the spring. Samuel Beckett’s “Happy Days” will follow and will feature one of our most extraordinary local actresses, Lynne Hastings in a production designed by one of Colorado Springs’ most celebrated visual artists, Floyd Tunson. We’ll close the season in 2015 with a charming comedy, “The Liar.”
Where do your performances take place?
Mostly in the Dusty Loo Bon Vivant Theater, though you can expect we’ll have occasional adventures on the road. We perform Shakespeare (“As You Like It”) at Rock Ledge Ranch and will produce our spring production of “Happy Days” in a warehouse somewhere in Colorado Springs. We are looking forward to our new home in the new Visual and Performing Arts Building slated to open in 2017-2018. We’ll move the Dusty Loo Bon Vivant to the new complex, which promises to be one of the most extraordinary venues in the state.
Tell us about the Dusty Loo Bon Vivant Theater and about the move.
We are known for producing our work in small, intimate, and flexible settings. The Dusty Loo Bon Vivant Theater is a black box theater that we reconfigure for each production. Our audiences love this. It means each visit and each production is a new adventure in a new world.
Our theater will retain all of its intimacy and flexibility, but the functional aspects of the space will get better. Also, our lobby will become bigger and more welcoming.