LeAnne Martin
Christians in the Arts

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Steve Broyles: Storytelling the Oldest Art Form

Steve Broyles wears many hats: actor, teacher, screenwriter, and more. He is currently Director of Middle School Drama for Wesleyan School in Norcross, GA. In addition to directing two shows each year, he teaches music and drama to grades 5-8. Steve is also a member of Atlanta based Art Within, whose vision is to develop, produce and distribute scripts for the stage and screen that are relevant to contemporary culture and that explore Hope and Truth from a Judeo-Christian perspective (www.artwithin.org). Steve graduated from Regent University in 2001 with an MFA in Script and Screenwriting where he received the Outstanding Graduate Student Award of Excellence. Prior to entering graduate school, he managed the Foothills Playhouse in Easley, South Carolina, and directed large scale musicals for Covenant Presbyterian Church in Easley.

Steve has designed sets as well as designed lights and sound for over 40 productions. He has also consulted on theatre construction projects. He has toured the country with drama and music groups and directed high school and college drama teams. Steve has acted and directed in community, church, school, college and graduate school theatres. He was a commissioned writer for Art Within in 2003 and is a graduate of the MTI Broadway Classroom in New York and a member of the Thespians Society and SETC. Steve is also the regional director for the CITA (Christians in Theatre Arts, http://www.cita.org/) south region.

LeAnne: What is your background in acting? Why do you love theatre?

Steve: My theatre background is scattered. My first play was in the 10th grade—I was a sophomore in a senior play. I played Earnest in The Importance of Being Earnest. Theatre, though, for me, didn’t really kick in until after college. I began to make a name for myself in the local community theatre. When we moved to South Carolina in 1989 I began to look for new connections. Eventually I found two. Besides directing large scale musicals for my church, I hooked up with the Foothills Playhouse and soon began managing, directing, designing and acting. It didn’t take long for me to realize a door was opening and that walking through the door was going to be a huge step for me and my family. So, in the spring of 1998, we sold our house and many of our possessions and moved to Virginia Beach, Virginia, where I attended graduate school at Regent University.

In many ways it would be arrogant for me to say I was making conscious decisions all along the way. As a child who grew up with undiagnosed learning disabilities, all I knew was that I, somehow, understood the world from a perspective I couldn’t seem to express scientifically or mathematically. For me, story telling is the oldest art form—when it is done well, it activates all the senses and intellectual faculties to get its meaning across. That is Theatre. Naturally, my Creator didn’t give me an option. One way or the other, I was going to come back to theatre at some point in my life.

LM: You are a drama teacher. Why do you believe students should be involved in theatre?

I always remind the students that, whether they want to do theatre ever again, a theatre class can change their life. It is a proven fact that a person’s level of success in whatever field they choose bears a direct relationship to their skill in public communication. In theatre we ask students to overcome their stage fright and get on stage. We show them that they communicate with their whole body. We ask them to memorize a script and perform it. We ask them to write a script and perform it on our main stage. All of this prepares our students for times when their performance up front will be for much greater stakes.

LM: What made you decide to teach? What do you like most about it?

Teaching, for me, was an acquired taste. I think I finally got to the point where I understood that teaching was just another form of telling a story—albeit a very structured, organized one in which the student has to learn to tell your story before they tell their own. When I made that transition to telling my own story is when I realized that I wanted to teach. I enjoy the discovery of teaching. To watch a student realize they have a comedic side or to hear a student learn to speak clearly and with power is a rush.

More from Steve Broyles on Monday.

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