In Monday Spotlight, we share information about and highlight members of the regional arts and entertainment community
This week, we spotlight a Modestan who has made a mark on the region’s theater scene.
Name: David Barbaree
Home base: Modesto
What you do: Local theater, primarily with Prospect Theater Project. About half the time I’m directing a play; the other half, I’m acting. I’m also on the artistic advisory team and help with suggestions for upcoming seasons. Each year I usually do two shows for them, one as an actor and one as a director. I’ve also appeared in shows at California State University, Stanislaus; Playhouse Merced; Modesto Performing Arts; Modesto Civic Theater, and Denair Gaslight Theater.
How you knew: I had no idea that “the theater,” as a cultural or commercial institution, even existed until I was in junior high. We would always spend our summer in my family’s hometown in Arkansas. I didn’t have a library card since I wasn’t a resident, so I started reading plays, since I could read them from start to finish in one sitting inside the library. I really became transported by them, swept away. It’s a cliché, but they fired my imagination.
I really didn’t know what it would be like to actually act until my junior year at Downey High. I got cast as Jacob Marley, and that was when I was “bitten.” I felt completely at home on the stage. I’d found it – my thing! It brought me out of my shell. I’m an introvert and was staying pretty invisible all through high school. But now it seemed like people noticed me without my trying. I got lead roles in some major productions my senior year, and won some pretty high-profile awards and scholarships. It’s amazing how powerful that kind of encouragement and recognition is when you’re a kid who’s just fumbling through life.
Go ahead, brag: I don’t have many accomplishments of distinction as an individual, but creating a play before an audience is a no small achievement. It takes an unbelievable amount of effort, dedication and cooperation. I am always so proud to see whatever company’s show I’m part of take wing and fly. I couldn’t be prouder of all the shows I’ve been involved with and to be a part of that esprit de corp that makes it happen. I’m definitely a team player.
When I feel proud, it’s the pride of being a part of such an impressive group of artists, of being a part of that family. I’m proud when I feel we have served the playwright, proud for the chance to connect to their work in an intimacy that only comes from “becoming” their character and embodying their voice. Not many people get the pleasure to “be” Galileo, or George in “Virginia Woolf,” or Orgon in “Tartuffe,” and say those wonderful things. It makes me incredibly happy.
Check you out: I’m appearing in “The Prisoner of Second Avenue” by Neil Simon at The Prospect Theater Project. Performances continue at 8 p.m. Thursday, Friday and Saturday, Oct. 1-3, and 2 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 4. This winter I will be directing Arthur Miller’s “Death of a Salesman,” also at the Prospect Theater, opening Feb. 19.
Are you an area artist or entertainer? Want to be part of Monday Spotlight? Email firstname.lastname@example.org.