Ashley Brooks is the Artistic Liaison at Gulfshore Playhouse.
Q: What age did you discover you were interested in theatre? Was there a particular event or experience that revealed your interest?
I played sports my entire life, but in 9th grade, I decided it wasn’t something I wanted to pursue any further. I was in drama class at the time, not because I necessarily wanted to be, but because there was an arts requirement for the school to take one fine arts class and the other options were chorus or band (which in my case, seemed less appealing). I ended up having the time of my life in that class and so, when I finally quit playing ball, I decided to invest my time in theatre. At that time, that meant continuing drama classes, auditioning for the school musicals and plays, and competing in district and state festivals. I became completely enamored with the culture, the friends I made, and the collaboration involved in what I discovered as the art of creation.
Q: You are called the “Artistic Liaison” at Gulfshore Playhouse. Can you talk a little about what that position entails?
As the Artistic Liaison, I am responsible for scheduling and communications to and from the Artistic department, examining the rehearsal process to make sure everything is running smoothly, helping with events such as the annual Gala and Opening Nights, moderating current Synergy programs and helping to create new ones, and involvement in video projects. Also, as the program starts to grow with our new building, I will be involved in organizing the Artistic Interns and apprentices.
Q: How did you end up pursuing this particular aspect of theatre?
In college I struggled to figure out where my theatre focus would be. I accepted a position at Gulfshore Playhouse right out of college as the Assistant to the Producing Artistic Director and I gained tremendous experience in all aspects of the business. My favorite by far is “Team Artistic,” where we get to essentially steer the creative ship of Gulfshore Playhouse!
Q: What might people be surprised to learn about your job?
Part of my job is to be involved in season selection, meaning I am tasked with reading plays, evaluating them, and passing them on if I think they would be a good fit for our stage and our audience. So reading plays (or watching them) throughout the day is a part of my job! Who said you can’t enjoy the work you do?!
Fun fact: Once we have our new building, the scope of plays we can produce will become limitless! At the moment, we have to keep in mind the limited space we have onstage and off, which means we can typically only produce shows that have a single set, and less than 10 people. Sometimes we read plays and love them, but have to put them on hold for the new building when they will be plausible to produce.
Q: What is your proudest achievement at Gulfshore Playhouse so far?
At Gulfshore Playhouse, we are a family. The fact that I am involved with a culture of people who care deeply not only about delivering world-class theatre to the city of Naples, but care deeply about their peers is it’s own achievement.