ARTISTIC DIRECTOR JULIA THUDIUM INTERVIEWS WILLIAM R. STAFFORD
William! Welcome to Mother Road as our new Director of Operations and Communications!
You have been involved with the Theatre community here in Albuquerque for a long long time. Our audience might not know that your family also owns the famous restaurant Sadies here in Albuquerque. Can you give us a little background on your long history here in Albuquerque?
Well, there’s not a short answer to this question so here goes; I have been involved in my family’s restaurant business, "Sadie's of New Mexico" since I was 11 years old (1974). This experience has allowed me to hone my business skills as well as my communication skills directly with the general public. In addition to being in the restaurant business for the better part of 40 years, I have also been performing in the Albuquerque area for over 30 years. I first started out in a rock band (South 14) back in the 80’s. After several years of losing my voice in the bar scene, I discovered musical theatre with ACLOA and the rest is history. From 1991 to 1995, I performed, stage managed, danced and worked backstage on over 20 productions with various companies around town including NM Ballet Co, ALT, The Adobe and many others. In 1995 I realized that if I wanted to make a career out of the performing arts, I would have to take a break from the restaurant business and leave town. This is when I decided to move to San Francisco and pursue this passion for the arts.
I know you left the city for a while and lived in San Francisco. Can you tell us about the theatre you were involved in out there?
The Bay Area has an amazing theatre atmosphere. I was immediately drawn to several theatre companies, particularly; The Willows Theatre and ACT where I performed and stage-managed for numerous productions. It was in 1997 when I became a member of The Actors Equity Association in the production of “Gods Country” at San Jose Stage. I continued my equity work in the Bay Area until 1999. At this time I became the company Manager for Jean Ann Ryan Productions on Norwegian Cruise Lines spending the next year abroad, returning to Albuquerque for Christmas in 2000.
You and I have a history as we were members of a sketch comedy group called The Hit and Run Players with Catherine Haun, Michael Dolce and Scott Sharot. You actually performed with us here at Mother Road as Eddie Carbone in A VIEW FROM THE BRIDGE and most recently as Uncle Adolph in LAST NIGHT OF BALLYHOO. What other theatre have you been involved in since your return to the Duke City?
When I returned home in 2000 from my time on the Cruise Ship I decided to stay home for while (it was the homesick thing). Shortly after that I discovered Southwest Repertory Theatre and they hired me as their Education Director. When Southwest Rep disbanded, I became a Middle School Drama Teacher at the Bosque School. Since then, as an equity theatre actor, I’ve worked with The Hit & Run Players, The Cell Theatre, Prodigy Arts Coalition and Mother Road Theatre. In addition, I was on the board of MTS for six years. I’ve also directed for MTS and ALT. In the midst of all of this, I am still an active owner of Sadie’s of New Mexico where my wife Amanda and I spend most of our Restaurant time in the Sadie’s at the STAR location.
As an Equity Actor in NM, has it been difficult to find work?
It’s been challenging for me to find work as a theatre actor or stage manager ultimately because I choose to stay in my union. The theatre culture in the Albuquerque area has been predominately a community theatre (volunteer actors) based world. Don’t get me wrong, this town has some great theatre companies that are currently producing great work. It’s also very encouraging to know that there are several companies (including Mother Road) that offer professional actors and stage managers the opportunity to work.
Why did you want to work with The Mother Road Theatre Company?
Because I like you!! In addition to our mutual admiration for each other, I really believe in the mission and vision of Mother Road Theatre Company. For the past 7 years MRTC has proven to be an innovative part of the theatre culture in NM. I am thrilled to be part of a company that values the theatre experience as much as I do.
We’re very excited to have you on board with us! Hey, do you think the Hit and Run Players will ever reunite?
To quote Oscar Wilde: To expect the unexpected shows a thoroughly modern intellect.