When writer in residence Steve Hunt learned that APU students wanted to stage a play, he compiled a short list that included one of his favorite works, Mary Zimmerman’s “Metamorphoses.”
Presenting many of the Greek myths as told by Ovid, the play – as Hunt describes it – is “almost un-doable.” Virtually all the action takes place around a pool.
Before meeting with students who chose it from among Hunt’s picks, he’d already decided: APU’s “Metamorphoses” would have no pool.
“The logistics were just too complicated,” said Hunt, a veteran playwright, actor, university instructor and director based in Anchorage.
But after a first reading and thinking aloud about alternatives, the cast and crew had its own ideas.
“They immediately said, ‘We’re having a pool.’
“It wasn’t a question of if, but how,” said Hunt, who has served as artist in residence at schools from South Carolina to Iowa to Alaska.
“Their determination and resolve showed me what APU students were made of. And of course we had a pool. And the play was a huge success,” Hunt said.
He credits APU’s emphasis on active learning for attracting students who are eager to do challenging theater.
“Experiential learning is exactly what theater is,” Hunt says. “It’s true – theater really is process, not product. I think that’s what active learning at APU embraces.”
In addition to directing APU theater productions, Hunt offers craft talks that stem from his career as a playwright.
“Whether they come from formal programs that teach playwriting or not, successful playwrights possess two characteristics,” he says: They know life, and they know theater.
When his students ask how to produce an original script, Hunt answers that all writing is original when it’s based on the author’s unique perspective on life. “Start looking within and without,” he tells students. “Look hard.”
Hunt says he’s looking forward to helping APU playwrights as they study the theater to improve their scriptwriting.
“One of the things I wish I’d learned during my undergraduate career was the importance of networking,” he said. “Looking back, I realize that exposure to successful artists would have been invaluable.”
After devoting more than 30 years to a life in the theater, Hunt said he’s ready to help APU students develop their writing as well as their professional network.
“It’s been said that theater is the quintessential humanities discipline because it combines history, literature, philosophy and art into one,” he said. “I’d be happy to assist APU and its students any way that I can.”
MFA, Theater Directing, University of Utah
BS, Theater, Francis Marion College