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Check Out Fuzz Roark’s Story

Today we’d like to introduce you to Fuzz Roark.

Fuzz, we appreciate you taking the time to share your story with us today. Where does your story begin?
In 2000, I was asked by the late Terry J Long to assist in creating a musical underscore and background for a play, Corpus Christi (Terrace McNally) that he was directing at Spotlighters. That moment rekindled my love of the theatre. I had grown up performing and had not found an outlet in Baltimore,… but Spotlighters became that outlet. I worked on various productions and assisted the Production manager with marketing and patron management from 2000 on. In 2004, the theatre transitioned to a Maryland Public Charity (a 501-c-3 IRS licensed non-profit) and I became the Executive Director and eventually the Managing Artistic Director. For the past 17 years, I have worked to select and produce Spotlighters’ diverse and creative seasons, along with an amazing Board of Directors and a wonderful Creative Team.

Alright, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
It has not been completely smooth, there have been struggles with funding for a small non-profit theatre – as most every small theatre experiences. The theatre has been affected by the economic downturn and since the theatre’s income is 55% ticket sales and 45% donations and grants – – – it has been a very rocky road for the last 14 months! But — our patrons are amazing and have continued to make monthly donations and the Maryland State Arts Council has assisted with Emergency Funding.  We have also received special project funding through the CARES ACT (Federal) and the Maryland DHCD Strong Economic Recovery Initiative (State).

As a theatre that likes to challenge our audiences, we often face difficult casting issues when we are looking to cast outside traditional role assignments. We often present material that asks our audience to think on or face the difficult issues present daily in our society. Spotlighters has never been afraid of presenting material that is controversial.

Our most routine struggle is how to present the highest quality productions – sets, props, costumes – on our 13×13 foot stage in the round. But we always do.

Our actors, designers and directors are amazing and Spotlighters always manages to pull it off – and with an amazing flare!

Thanks for sharing that. So, maybe next you can tell us a bit more about your work?
I am the Managing Artistic Director of Spotlighters. I have to live in both my Left and Right Brain. I have to be creative and look at new productions that will draw an audience and will interest performers. And then the question is: how do we mount this production on Spotlighters’ unique space. A 13x13ft square stage in the middle of our audience? It always comes together. I also get to use my Left Brain as I handle the management side of the business of theatre: Paying the rent, and utilities, paying our taxes, filling out never-ending paperwork; Researching Grants and Funding, organizing volunteers, creating budgets, and more. I think Spotlighters is known for always producing something unique. It may be a show that another theatre did just a year before – but it is different because it is at Spotlighters, it has to be!  And many times, what we are producing is real – the audience is close to the stage, and both actor and audience can feel and share the energy and emotion of the production.

I am most proud of Spotlighters’ integrity… we don’t try to be more than we are, we just produce the highest quality theatre we can. Spotlighters seeks to represent the diversity we see in Baltimore City and Maryland – both on our stage and in our organizational leadership. When an issue arises in the local or national media, it is likely that our Board has already been discussing how we address the issue in specific ways.

Spotlighters has a 59 years history of presenting challenging and engaging theatre for the Baltimore community. What sets Spotlighters apart is our passion and dedication to Live Theatre. Creating a space for actors, designers, technicians, directors to refine and hone their skills in producing theatre in an intimate space with an amazing audience.

Can you share something surprising about yourself?
I am a pretty open book, so most folks probably know a lot about me. In the past 14 months of COVID ShutDown – I have become a Gentleman Farmer at my family farm in South Carolina; renovating a 140 years old farmhouse and restoring the 3.5 acres of lawn, shrubs, pecan groves and flower beds; and enjoy the 300+ acres of woodlands and fields.

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