Steven Biggs

Theatre Artist

Time in Greater OC: 30+ Years

Neighborhood: Fullerton

Hometown: Corona

What are you currently working on?

Currently, I am working on a Comic Reading at the Maverick Theatre with projections, music and live foley. Through the end of May.

What's been inspiring you recently?

Most recently I have been inspired by my students. They are a constant inspiration when they are engaged in the conversation and when they express what theatre means to them.

Tell us a story from your childhood that illuminates who you are as an artist.

Hoo-boy. Let's go with this one... Once upon a time, I was assistant directing a production of "Ten Little Indians" at Corona High School. We needed caps for a prop gun we were using in the show, so a friend of mine and I went to the Kay-Bee Toys in Tyler Mall to get some (now known as Tyler Galleria - they're fancy these days). On the way back, he got the "brilliant" idea of "shooting" people out the window of the car. To make a very long story short, we ended up in the squad room of the Corona PD. I think the only thing that saved us was that his dad was a Highway Patrol officer who knew most of the Corona cops. Anyway, when the cop handling our case came in to tell us they had called our parents, that we could have been shot by the cop who pulled us over, and to keep our toys in the bag, I asked him if the gun looked real. He said, Yeah, from a distance it looked like a Saturday night special. My response, "Good because we're using it in a show and I want it to look real." There was a great disturbance in the Force as if millions of cops across the country face-palmed at once.

What's the craziest thing you have ever needed to do for theatre?

So, see the capgun story above. Although I didn't actually do it, I directed a production of "Crimes of the Heart" where it was decided that we really just needed to buy a brand new sheet cake for every single performance. $600 later... However, I still think Amanda DeMaio was right about that. And, you know, free cake for the audience as they left.

Who are or were your theatrical heroes?

Well, in retrospect, my junior high theatre teacher Jerry Althoff, although we made fun of him gave him nothing but trouble at the time. He taught us stage craft, improv, and tried to do the absolute best productions we could with very little money. Marvis Kisselburg in high school did the same. Otherwise, Arthur Miller, Neil Simon, Wendy Wasserstein, Beth Henley, George C. Scott, Robert Preston, Rex Harrison.

What kind of theatre excites you?

I'm excited by theatre that reaches me on a human level, even if it's the most "normal" or most outlandish type of theatre out there. I think a lot of places suffer from both a lack of vision and perhaps too much "vision." Many places slap together productions of Neil Simon comedies or warhorse musicals and think that's good enough. Or they'll impose an artistic vision on a classic play like a Shakespeare that actually gets in the way of the play itself. At this point, I think the "edgiest" thing to do is to do the play, do it as written, and find the humanity in not only the play but in the people doing the play this time; the actors and designers. Let them be heard through the voice of the playwright. Honor their work.

Outside of a theatre, what's your favorite hot spot in Orange County?

Well, it was Mulberry Street in Fullerton for Saturday Night karaoke but I guess that's going to change to Monday nights at Bourbon Street since Mulbs won't be doing late nights anymore. Otherwise, Comics Toons 'n' Toys in Tustin. I don't know if it's obvious or not but I'm kind of a nerd.

What surprises you the most about your role in the theatre community?

Heh. That, after seeing myself in show videos, anyone ever lets me on stage. We are, however, our own worst critics. I'm also very thankful that I've reached a point in my career where people have started calling me in to work sometimes.

What advice do you have for theatre artists just starting out in Orange County?

Work everywhere, have fun but take the fun seriously, and don't be an ass. It really is a small world after all. Reputations get built very quickly.

Go ahead, promote your things...

Besides the above show at the Maverick (again, through the end of May), I also teach at Fullerton and Chaffey Colleges, am a member of Hollywood's Theatre of NOTE, and contribute fairly regularly to the Geek Shock podcast and The Keeg podcast.

Steven Biggs