My final interview is with Trey Compton, a current adjunct faculty member in the Theatre & Dance Department at Nazareth College. Prior to coming to Naz for this year I had worked with Trey on a production of Hair at Cortland Repertory Theatre in Cortland, NY and most recently Love’s Labour’s Lost, The Musical here at Nazareth for the Fall Main Stage Musical. Trey works as a theatre director as well as fight/intimacy choreographer.
When devising my question “What is a good artist?” I immediately knew that I needed to interview Trey. Working with him before, I know he understands the role of an artist in the same ways I do, and see so much wisdom when it comes to being a human being first and an artist second.
My conversation with him put into words what I have been thinking as I prepare to graduate but never knew quite how to say.
Weston: What is a good artist?
Trey: To me artist is such a broad term. Are we talking about theatrical artists or all artistry?
Weston: Theatrical Artists.
Trey: Okay. The difference between “good” and successful is an interesting venn-diagram.
I’ll speak speak specifically on theatre because that’s my artistry, that’s how I’ve chosen to define my life. Because, if you went across the street and became a sculptor, all you need is the materials, your brain, and hands. That is something that is just done with you and the materials.
Good artistry, to me, is the understanding that there is the art, the play, the musical, what have you. But, the play for me doesn’t occur until collaborators get in the room and it is shared with an audience. So, to me a good artist is the understanding of the balance between the self and the art, and the sharing process. Like finding that perfect balance, with balance being a verb, a not a noun, and understanding “this is my work” and “this is our work”.
Weston: I love that because I know you always talk about the collaboration aspect and I think that is really important because I was going to ask how other people affect the way you feel about your artistry because I think being an artist is also being very self critical, it’s also being willing to put yourself in front of other people and be open to judgment. And I think a lot of the time we forget that it is supposed to be a collaboration.
Trey: Even in my thirties I’m missing the exercise. The point of the exercise is not to make all of the decisions, it’s to ask all the questions and then get a lot of the answers, and then make a call.
The most beautiful concept to me is that god whoever you believe in gave you “one mouth and two ears”. Use your ears more than you mouth.
Weston: When you think about the difference between “good” and “successful” has that ever affected you positively or negatively where that line in that ven diagram you described blurred?
Trey: I think that we seem to link success and finances and good being the actual art. I think they are more connected. To me it is all dependent on what is your definition of success. My definition of success is at the end of the year when I file my taxes there’s this little thing that says what is your occupation, and when I write director, and all my W-2’s and 10-99’s say that; I’m like of shit, I did that. I feel successful because this is what I do.
Weston: There’s a pride in that.
Trey: Good artistry does not necessarily have to mean artistic success. It is solely dependent on your view of success.
You have to define what good is and what success means. Is it about the art is it about the artistic success?
Weston: So when you receive project you don’t necessarily enjoy or would not choose for yourself, how do you then find the joy, knowing that your motto always is “what if it’s fun?”, are there things you do for yourself to keep yourself grounded?
Trey: Going back to collaboration; the people. When I was starting out I made a rule of three to select things, it had to be: a title I really loved, a location/theater I wanted to work with, and the money. There has only been one instance where the money was a factor but it if it was one of the other two I would do it. At the end of the day I’m not doing it (theatre) alone, I’m doing it with people so if it ever is a place or piece that doesn’t feel 100% I go off of the people.
I am a huge proponent of you cannot enjoy the view on a hill without a valley.
There is one experience in my life where I learned more than I ever had before. I was watching this individual direct and learned about what not to do. “What if it’s fun?” is my motto so don’t go work with people you disagree with but understand that you know what’s good by observing what’s bad. Be a constant sponge. It should all be new information.
Trey Compton, he/him (Fight and Intimacy Direction) is a New York City based director, choreographer, fight, and intimacy director. As a fight director, regional credits at Seattle 5th Avenue, Goodspeed, The Ogunquit Playhouse, Riverside, Engeman, among others. As a fight director Off-Broadway: Yank! (The York.) He has directed at various Universities and Colleges including Penn, Georgetown, Pace, Stephens, and here at Nazareth where he directed and choreographed Carousel, Company, The Drowsy Chaperone and most recently directed Love’s Labour’s Lost. Upcoming, associate directing Austen’s Pride at Carnegie Hall, and directing shows at Mac-Hadyn and Fort Peck Theatres. treycompton.com