Michael Dove is the Artistic Director of Forum Theatre which produces high quality thought provoking pieces of theatre at Round House Theatre in Silver Spring, MD. He recently directed The Water Engine at Montgomery College and directed the highly acclaimed Scorched at Forum. Some of the productions Michael has produced at Forum include The Last Days of Judas Iscariot, Mad Forest and BOBRAUSCHENBERGAMERICA. Michael is not afraid to produce something a little different and take risks, and I applaud Michael for his efforts.
What was your first professional job?
I was an actor and scenic artist at The Lost Colony in the Outer Banks in North Carolina when Terrence Mann directed the show. An embarrassing story about that experience was that I was advised by a friend to do “Stars” from Les Miserables as my general audition song. I didn’t have a huge musical theatre background, so when I auditioned for Colony and Terry asked me to do a song, that’s what I pulled out—having no clue who he was or that he was the performer on the cast recording I had been listening to!
What is the mission of Forum Theatre?
Forum’s official mission is to “produce adventurous, relevant, and challenging plays that inspire discussion and build community around productions that are accessible, affordable, and entertaining.”
Essentially, we do really well-written plays that we think are worth talking about and that address social and political issues.
You tend to choose very intense though- provoking pieces of theatre. With the way some audiences are nowadays – do you ever worry about what they will think of a particular show?
No. Not one bit, actually. We focus a great deal on making our productions highly accessible, but I feel that it’s our duty to spark conversation and represent a multitude of perspectives on our stage. If we do that properly, we’re bound to find plenty of audience members who will disagree with some of those points of view. The key is to produce with an open mind and never try to preach from the stage. I think that as long as we keep that attitude and make the experience as inclusive as possible, then even if you don’t care for one show, you won’t be so offended that it will keep you away from the next.
Democracy is messy, so relevant theatre should be, as well.
How important is it to present lesser-known works over the standard repertoire?
Well, from a mission perspective, we want to present new ideas or at least new ways of looking old issues. This tends to draw us to lesser-known work because we are always looking for that fresh view on the world around us.
From our place in the theatrical ecosphere, we rarely do premieres, but we do like to find work that has never been done in the DC area. I also like the idea of doing a play’s 2nd or 3rd production after it has premiered somewhere else. It gives new plays an ongoing life that they might not get with so many theatres wanting the glamour of a world premiere.
What are some of your favorite productions you have either presented of directed at Forum?
Our production of The Memorandum in 2006 was a blast. It was our first “hit” and I suppose due to the fact that it was written by Václav Havel, we had a few visits from audience members accompanied by Secret Service! It gave new meaning to wanting to do work that spoke to power, for sure, considering they were sitting in the audience. Only in DC…
As a director, I’d have to say that Scorched is and always will be a pretty special experience for me. Personally, I think it’s my best work, to date, and I think that’s down to how amazing the collaborative process was. It was just one of those special productions when we all felt on the top of our game and we knew that we telling a really meaningful story.
As a producer, it will be hard to top The Last Days of Judas Iscariot. Every night, the show grew in power. Never have I experienced something like that production…such an outpouring of emotion from both the cast and audience. They were so connected on every level.
It’s what theatre is all about, right?
Watch dramaturg Tim Guillot interview Scorched director and Artistic Director of Forum Theatre Michael Dove.