Actor, director, and playwright Matt Cosper, 31, has been affiliated with half a dozen theater companies in Charlotte over the past decade, including Actor’s Theatre of Charlotte, BareBones Theatre Group, Carolina Actors Studio Theatre, Farm Theatre, Machine Theatre and others. He will direct “The Tempest” for the Collaborative Theatre Company during the Charlotte Shakespeare Festival beginning Thursday.
Q. In 2010, after a successful run with Machine Theatre, the company went on hiatus and you left Charlotte for almost 19 months. Why?
I lost both my parents during a span of three months and my brother in Portland, Ore., had a child. It was a time for me to be with family and regroup. During my year in Portland I participated in a wonderful “observership” with Portland Center Stage, directed an Oregon Children’s Theater production of “Magic School Bus,” and stage managed for an experimental theater group. I also spent several months in New York City working with a group of performers on a nostalgia project based upon the Andrews Sisters.
Q. What is it about good theater that makes the experience so powerful for audiences?
There is a “right now” immediacy and exchange of energy that goes on between performers and an audience. The shared experience of an engaging production leaves both the performers and the audience feeling as if they have been through a workout. In an increasingly technology heavy world, these shared personal experiences will come to have even more value.
Q. Which of your productions is your favorite?
I did an adaptation of Eugene Ionesco’s “The Lesson” with Farm Theatre. It had a great cast, was sharp and really well executed. That was the best thing I’ve ever done.
Q. What needs to happen for community theater to thrive?
We have enough buildings. Artists need to be paid a decent wage to be able to live and work here. Artists also need to better communicate with each other and the media with regards to constructive critique and feedback about our work. Artists gravitate toward communities where there work will be challenged and ultimately strengthened.
Q. What’s next for you?
I’m directing “The Tempest,” Machine Theatre is rebooting and we will be performing this summer in Raleigh. There is no shortage of projects to work on.