It was a blessing in disguise.
Trista Duval, interim artistic director for Centerstage Theatre, always imagined herself being a performer after seeing “The Little Mermaid” as a child.
Duval’s dreams were put on hold though for six years as an adult when she contracted an illness that damaged her vocal cords, affecting her ability to sing and perform.
Rather than give up her lifelong dreams, Duval expanded her passion into other areas of the theater, broadening her horizons from just singing and acting.
During that time, Duval learned how to direct, hire, supervise and support people following their own dreams.
“It was one of those things in your life that takes a different direction than expected,” Duval said. “I wanted to keep being an artist. The break I took from acting gave me time to possess other artistic skills.”
Now, Duval is combining all of her skills and her love of drama at Centerstage Theatre by stepping in for Alan Bryce following his retirement earlier this summer.
Duval’s job requires her to supervise anything in the realm of the artistic production, and as long as she stays in budget, she is free to create and supervise all artistic creations this season. Centerstage Theatre will kick off the new season Sept. 22 with “Witness for the Prosecution,” a drama written by Agatha Christie.
Duval said her strong background in acting, combined with the skills necessary for an artistic director, helps her connect with actors auditioning for roles, as she has gone through the same experiences.
“You absolutely can be a working artist, but you need to be able to wear multiple different hats,” Duval said.
And while her new position is considered temporary, Duval does not intend to relinquish this hat any time soon.
“I’m not leaving unless someone comes who I have complete faith can take over this job from me and do it well,” Duval said. “Technically, my title is interim, but realistically I’ll be here a few years at least.”
Duval’s job also requires her to choose the plays almost a year in advance. She said it is a tricky process, as she needs to select strong opening and closing performances and incorporate a few that people may not know about but would find very interesting.
She is also trying to generate more interest in the theater by reaching out to millenials through behind-the-scene interviews with actors and interactions with the public through social media.
Duval wants to get the younger generation involved with theater through a project called Page to the Stage, which features modern plays with strong references to classic and historical theater.
This season’s play, “Return to the Forbidden Planet,” heavily incorporates Shakespeare’s “The Tempest,” for example.
The purpose is to subtly introduce students to and interest them in classic literature while exposing them to the theater world.
“The students can see the whole development of the play, and then they get VIP seats and get goodies. Afterwards they get to go behind the scenes and talk with the actors and director,” Duval said.