Spotlight on Scott Bailey, Rooftop ProductionsBy Laura & Mike Clark • Feb 28th, 2008 • Category: Interviews
Mike: This is Mike Clark with ShowBizRadio and I am talking to Scott Bailey, the Artistic Director for Rooftop Productions in Manassas. Thank you for talking with me today, Scott.
Scott: Sure thing, Mike.
Mike: So, tell us a little bit about the history of Rooftop Productions.
Scott: About five or six years ago the city council in Manassas decided that we should have a performing arts space within the city limits of Manassas that was a little more accessible to the public. We have one, The Cramer Center, that already had a fair number of activities in it. So the center got a renovated warehouse space and the third floor of that was made into a flexible theater staging space. And to take advantage of that space the Center founded Rooftop Productions.
Mike: So is the center actually a part of the City of Manassas?
Scott: It’s an independent non-profit agency. It has an excellent working relationship with both the city and the county of Prince William. The overall goal for the Center For the Arts is education and performance, generally dealing with children and teens. They thought it would be a good idea to try and diversify into a more adult theatrical center. And that was one of the main purposes for bringing Rooftop into being.
Mike: Isn’t there a lot of artwork hanging on the walls at the Center For The Arts?
Scott: The first floor is an art gallery, usually featuring local artists, both professional and amatuer. The second floor is classroom space and the administrative area. The artwork there is of a much more child friendly genre, usually produced by the children themselves and the classes and things like that. Almost like an elementary school hallway. Then the third floor we have the occasional exhibit up there in the lobby area and not generally in the theater space itself, although it’s possible to have it up there, too.
Mike: How did you get involved with Rooftop?
Scott: I’ve been working with the Center For The Arts for about twelve or fifteen years. I was directing some of the children’s productions. Sally Lay, who is the executive director of the Center, and I had been talking for awhile about trying to expand it into an adult setting. When the opportunity came she told me about it and we came and worked out some of the logistics about getting Rooftop into being and utilizing that space and the scheduling. So Sally was sort of the driving force behind everything. I tagged onto her shirttails and went a long for the ride.
Mike: So what types of productions are usually done at Rooftop Productions?
Scott: We do two productions a year, generally smaller ensemble type pieces. We try and do one musical offering and one non musical offering. We haven’t really had an over arching theme. We’ve done everything from You’re A Good Man, Charlie Brown to A, My Name is Alice to Quilters in the musical genre. We’ve done things ranging from Blithe Spirit to The Glass Menagerie to Come Back To the Five and Dime Jimmy Dean Jimmy Dean in the non musical. We try to do a fair mix of the heavier drama and some comedy. We try and focus especially with the non musical plays on pieces that several people would have heard about before, but particularly in the Manassas area not have seen staged. We work on that philosophy of just trying to bring, I wouldn’t necesarily say classics, but pieces that are not as well known as some of the others and giving them a chance for a second look.
Mike: Is that how you ended up with That Championship Season?
Scott: Yes. I had read the play a number of years ago. I’ve seen the two movie versions that were done with it. We were discusing it with the director actually, Lisa Anne Bailey. She decided that was a play that she would like to try her hand at. She has directed several other groups in the area. That gave me a chance to audition for it as opposed to directing it which I normally do. That worked out for both of us pretty well.
Mike: Did you see the production of That Championship Season that was performed at American Century Theatre?
Scott: We followed it pretty closely in the press, but I was not able to get up there myself and view it in person.
Mike: I know I’ve heard a couple people backstage as we’re out and about That Championship Season is coming out to Manassas. So there are definitely people talking about it.
Scott: That’s great.
Mike: We’ve seen you in several different shows. We saw you in Charlie Brown. You were Snoopy.
Scott: That’s right.
Mike: And a couple different shows at Elden Street. So you get around.
Scott: I travel a bit. That’s the good thing about Rooftop. One of the things we try to emphasize when we first try to bring it into being was by doing only two shows a year, and not having a core active board of directors as many of the other theater groups do, people who participate in our shows are a little freer to go elsewhere once that show is done. The Center has a Board of Directors of course, as far as the theater itself, they are virtually hands off in dealing with the Center over all. We don’t have president, vice president, secretary, treasurer, directors, and a play committee that are directly with Rooftoop. It’s a very small operation from that standpoint. It allows the actors and me to not have to dedicate ourselves full time to this one venue.
Mike: Does that make it easier too for the budget?
Scott: Absolutely. One of the things that the advantage of Rooftop is, one of the difficulties of the space. I really like the space because it is so flexible and the city did a really great job of refurbishing the wood. The brick is exposed, you have the old beams and the tin ceiling. Just walking into the space it’s a pleasent looking space. Because there is no set stage we can do and have, everything from shows in the round, 3/4 thrust, a traditional proscenium, having stations throughout the auditorium. We are only limited by what we can think of there. The difficulty is because of that and because it is run through the museum part of the city, you can’t build traditional flats and build braces and hang things like you might in a larger space or a more contained space. As a result, our sets tend to be virtually non existent other than some level changes and some furniture. We rarely use flats or try to recreate an actual room or anything of that nature. It’s much more representational as opposed to presentational.
Mike: Do you prefer to be on stage or backstage?
Scott: When I’m on stage I prefer to be directing and when I’m directing I think I prefer to be on stage. I keep ping ponging back and forth between the two.
Mike: Is there a certain show you would love to be in?
Scott: I’ve actually been in two different productions of The Lion in Winter as two different roles. I really really enjoy that show tremendously. I did Virginia Woolf a number of years ago and I would like the opportunity now that I’m a little more of that age to try that again with a bit more seasoning under my belt.
Mike: Is there anything else we should chat about regarding Rooftop or the upcoming season? That Championship Season opens in late March.
Scott: It opens March 28th. Again because we do not have a core we have five excellent male actors. One from the Fredericksburg/Stafford area, two from here in Manassas, one from Lorton, and one from Fairfax so we cast a pretty wide net to get some pretty top notch actors for this one.
Mike: The next show will be next Fall, correct?
Scott: Yes, that will be the weekend after Halloween. We have not actually picked the next season, but ours are always the end of October, beginning of November and then the end of March beginning of April. Those are our general time areas.
Mike: Well, thank you very much for talking with me. I do appreciate it.
Scott: Yes, sir. I appreciate your interest.
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Laura & Mike Clark started ShowBizRadio in August 2005 because they love live theater. They each have both performed in and worked behind the scenes in DC area productions, as well as earned a Career Studies Certificate in Theater from Northern Virginia Community College. Mike & Laura are each members of the American Theatre Critics Association, and Mike is a member of the Online News Association.