Starting a theatre company is no easy task, especially in Dallas. But its just a tad easier when you have experience behind you and good people rooting you on. Executive Director & Founder Gregory Patterson has both. He took some time out of his busy schedule to chat about TCTP’s upcoming season, the challenges associated with starting an upstart and also our upcoming Season Preview Cocktail Party. Have a read.
Will Hudson: First off, I loved the last event Classic Crooners. What’s on the agenda for your next event? What can we expect?
Greg Patterson: Our next event is this week. It’s a preview party of sorts and a great opportunity to see scenes from our 2019 season. We’ll have a play reading from Summer and Smoke, The Crucible and Fool For Love. Plus, there’ll be plenty of food, wine, great socializing and a chance to check out the iconic Margo Jones Theatre in Fair Park.
W: That’s a good segue. What made you guys decide to do this year’s season at the Margo Jones?
G: I love the Fair Park area because of its rich history in Dallas especially since the Margo Jones Theatre is the place where Tennessee Williams’ Summer and Smoke was first produced. To be honest, Dallas artists owe a great debt to Margo Jones. Margo Jones founded Theatre 47 in Dallas, a nonprofit professional theatre company that was the first of its kind in the country, and ran until her death in 1955. Jones’ theatre provided an early model for the resident theatre movement of the 1960s and ‘70s which transformed the American stage, and communities. What more do you need me to say?
W: I think that’s plenty.
G: I host a lot of fundraisers. I’m used to stating my case to say the least.
W: Will we be seeing you on stage during the play-reading?
G: That’s a no. I will leave that to our Artistic Director Joey Folsom. He will star in and direct our first show Fool for Love.
W: What sparked your interest in the arts? How did you get started?
G: My career has always been in the arts from my early days back in the 80s at The National Ballet of Canada in Toronto. Those were my halcyon days. I worked with some exceptional artists like Rudolf Nureyev and Mikhail Baryisnikov and toured all over the world. I’ve seen the transformative power the arts bring to communities. The arts do change lives, bridge communication, and really help people understand different points of view.
W: All the way from Canada to Dallas. What has surprised you the most about starting TCTP?
G: It has been a lot of fun but challenging. It’s hard to get recognized in a community that is full of many other options but we offer a real niche. Not many professional theatre companies focus simply on the great classics. We do. That’s our mission, making the classics still relevant to today’s audiences.
W: How do you stay motivated?
G: Working in the arts affords me little time for anything else. But I love animals. So I enjoy being with my dogs and horses. I need to relax more and I’m committed to doing that in 2019.
W: What advice do you have for the new generation of artists?
G: Work hard. Be committed to yourself. Don’t take no for answer. Don’t listen to the naysayers. Listen to yourself. Be strong, passionate and dedicated. Have fun doing it too. Oh, be open to being mentored. I had great mentors in my career. They taught me everything. I still have mentors, new ones, like Teresa Coleman Wash. She’s a dynamo and she’s taught me a lot. Never stop learning and listening. Listening is key. I learned from some of the best artists in the world that you need focus, commitment and a love for humanity to make it in the arts. The great singer Harry Belafonte once said to me, “If you love people and if you love being able to help bring positive change then you’ll make it in this business. I can tell you love people Greg.”
That’s really all it takes – a willingness to be open and to give back.”