Jeffrey Binder is the Associate Artistic Director 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’ve always been interested in telling stories with characters – I had an overactive imagination for as long as I can remember and would always gravitate toward telling epic stories with action figures and stuff when I was a kid. I played Mr. MacGregor in Peter Rabbit in first grade – I always liked the villains because their stories were typically so much more interesting and complex (how did they get that way? how do they justify their behavior? what about them is vulnerable?). My first singing role was Frederick in The Pirates of Penzance in 7th Grade. I never knew I could really sing well enough to do anything musical until Sister Mary Catherine put me in the show. And I wasn’t good a football… so there was that.
Q: You are called the “Associate Artistic Director” at Gulfshore Playhouse. Can you talk a little about what that position entails?
I’m Kristen’s right-hand artistic person. Everything from reading plays and helping to choose the season, to helping with marketing the season in terms of visuals and descriptions, to directing, to acting, to negotiating contracts with artists and advising with casting, to writing and adapting pieces for the theatre (everything from Shakespeare to writing completely new works), working with Kristen and Joel to create the best artistic spaces possible with our architects for the new building (both onstage and backstage), to helping Kristen with advising the direction of our Education department, to being a positive face and cheerleader for the organization, to representing Gulfshore Playhouse when Kristen can’t. If it has to do with creative content at Gulfshore Playhouse, I’m elbows deep in it with Kristen.
Q: How did you end up pursuing this particular aspect of theatre?
I’ve always been an actor – I got my MFA in Acting at NYU and was in NYC for 20 years, but I always wanted a diverse career and life and the opportunity to explore all sides of the theatre – particularly writing, directing, producing, and learning the business of theatre. Coming down here was a unique and exciting opportunity to do all of these things.
Q: What does a typical day in your role look like?
There is no typical day! In the summers I’m typically working with the Education team and directing the summer STAR Academy teens in a musical, writing something, reading plays for our New Works Festival, upcoming season, or to talk about future seasons, or attending architects meetings. During season it’s acting, memorizing lines, attending marketing or education meetings or activities, weighing in on the Gala, negotiating contracts, traveling to NYC for casting, working on an upcoming show I’m directing, attending an event with Kristen, interviewing new hires with Kristen and Joel (and typically Emily Malmborg our Production Manager), working on something for the Capital Campaign… you name it. Our season gets busy pretty fast but it’s always varied and exciting. From November into April I’m typically doing something Gulfshore Playhouse-related starting in the early morning and through midnight memorizing,emailing, working, or writing (with a few hours break in between to hang out with my daughter for dinner and put her to bed, of course).
Q: What might people be surprised to learn about your job?
I prefer to remain shrouded in mystery. It adds to my mystique.
Q: What is your proudest achievement at Gulfshore Playhouse so far?
It’s hard to pick one thing, but I guess I would say Scapino – writing a play that was a huge success for the theatre creatively and in terms of box office, then taking it to NYC and getting it published be Samuel French, that’s really one of the proudest moments of my career. Until I got here, I really only considered myself an actor. Gulfshore Playhouse has given me such a beautiful opportunity to explore so many other facets of myself. I’m forever grateful to it for that.