Curtis Barber: Theatre Teacher and Director – Theatre People
By Mitch Stark
This week, meet Curtis Barber. Curtis is the High School Theatre Director at his alma mater, Needville High School in Texas. He has a love for all things theatre, is an accomplished actor in Houston and an Artistic Associate at the Dirt Dogs Theatre Company. Above all, his passion for theatre and heart for his students makes Curtis a great guy to get to know. Enjoy his interview!
Curtis Barber, theatre teacher and director in Texas.
What’s a show that inspires you? (explain away!)
A show that inspires me is Strangmen Company’s production of The Woodsman. It was conceived by James Ortiz and his company, and this show has everything. Inventive staging, clever use of ensemble, original music & singing, bunraku puppetry, and an amazing story of the Tinman of Oz before Dorothy dropped in. I was able to see a recorded production of it on BroadwayHD, and love to show it to my students.
They always are completely enraptured and ready to get up there and create something as inventive. I showed it to my One Act Play kids this year as an example of what I wanted certain moments of our show to feel like.
What’s one of your happiest moments in theatre?
I think one thing that makes me happiest in theatre is when actors are breathing and listening on stage. That, to me, is a moment of absolute truth. From the audience, it’s invigorating and you can feel everyone lean towards the actors in their seats. It can happen even just in rehearsal, and you can feel the room just vibrate with energy at that moment. That’s when you go, “Oh yeah, this show is going to be something special.”
What’s the biggest ‘fail’ or goof you’ve seen on stage? (do tell the story)
I’m going to throw MYSELF under the bus for this one! One of the biggest “goofs” I have seen on stage was when I was competing in One Act Play as a student. We were doing the show, The Night Thoreau Spent in Jail, and I was playing Henry David Thoreau’s lesser intelligent cellmate. In between scenes in the jail, lights would go down on my side of the stage and I would lay on this cot and pretend to be asleep.
Well, at the Region level of our OAP Journey, I was laying on the cot and completely fell asleep for real at one point! I was awoken by the lead trying to improv a line I had missed and rolled over to see him and the whole audience staring at me. I panicked and apparently jumped about 3 pages in the script, but we eventually recovered. I was completely mortified.
Why do you love theatre?
I love theatre because you can create an entirely realized world for an audience. From the lights, projections and set down to the soundscape, you can transport your audience to a different world for a short time. And in that story, they can get completely lost and forget things about their real life, even if it is just between lights up and lights down.
For artists, theatre is a tangible representation of their imagination. That is a special gift for us, to be able to take something from our soul and create it for others to see.
Theatre is for…
those gifted with the need to tell a story.
They don’t fit in a crowd, they don’t remain silent. They speak up, step forward, and bare their soul to the world.
I love this quote from Oscar Wilde,
“It was only in the theatre that I lived.”
More about Curtis
A proud graduate of Needville High School, Mr. Barber will be the Head Director this year at his alma mater. Previously he was the Assistant Director at Alief Elsik High School.
Mr. Barber is also the Artistic Associate for Dirt Dogs Theatre Company, has acted and directed all over Houston, and was recently awarded The Landing Theatre’s 2019 Laura Award for Best Male Performance in a Dramatic Staged Reading for his work in W for the Gilbster by David Spence. Past favorite roles include Uncle Fester in The Addams Family Musical, Simon in Hay Fever, Colin in The :nv:s:ble Play, and Mushnik in Little Shop of Horrors.
Recent local directing credits include Parallel Leighzaverses: A Tour of the Leighzasphere with Company Onstage, The Unknown with Dirt Dogs Theatre Company, Doublewide Texas with Pearl Theater, and served as a Devising Associate on The Return of Sherlock Holmes with Classical Theatre Company.