Stephen Svoboda

Stephen Svoboda

Assistant Professor of Theatre

Heidelberg Enthusiasm

When I started here, I was excited about the enthusiasm the faculty from the School of Music and Theatre have for the work we produce and the talent of our students. I was also impressed by our students’ dedication to learning and their true desire to better themselves as artists. Their enthusiasm was infectious. I am very excited by both the hard work and satisfaction of growing a vibrant theatre program on our campus.

Embracing the Message

First of all, it was wonderful to see that our campus recognized the hard work and talent of our performers and production team. I’m happy to see that our community responded so positively to the production of The Diary of Anne Frank. The performers did an amazing job of making the characters three dimensional real people. We are working hard to create professional level theatre here in our small town. Even better was the fact that I chose this play for this season because of its cultural relevance. Although the play speaks to a specific time period, its message about the dangers of hate speech and persecution of various groups really resonates with our contemporary world. I’m glad our campus community embraced the message of the play so strongly.

Rewarding Productions

The most rewarding experience, for me, is opening night of The Laramie Project. It was my first production I directed here on campus and I was so incredibly impressed with the performances of my students, but also the open and engaged response from the audience of students at our opening night. People were genuinely moved by the performance and I think many students had a transformative experience. My goal is to capture that same spirit with each of our productions going forward.

Welcoming Environment

The students are the best part about this place. They make me laugh every day. They make me think about how to be a better artist and teacher. I would say that my experience at Heidelberg has been, “If you show up and ask to be involved, you will be enthusiastically welcomed.” This is always true in the Theatre program. I believe that everyone should be able to participate in whatever way works for them. The arts are not an elite space. They should be accessible to all people. If you are interested in theatre, show up, we will help you find your place.

The Harambee Project

The Harambee Project is an organization that brings students to Kenya to work with communities that have been stricken with high HIV/AIDS infections and death. They help build clinics and support orphanages. I spent two months in a small village working with an orphanage to build a medical clinic. While there, I was asked by the local minister to hold a session in their new clinic about HIV and AIDS. I ended up sharing my own life story as an HIV-positive gay man. At first the response was very chilling. Talking about sexuality was not something that was acceptable or common place in their community. For almost everyone there, it was the first time someone was willing to answer their questions about HIV and AIDS. It was a transformative moment in my life. I saw first hand how one person sharing the truth about themselves could have a transformative effect on an entire community.

Fun Facts

Hometown: Tupper Lake, N.Y.
Most influential teacher/professor: Vincent Cardinal, chair of the Musical Theatre Program at University of Michigan
Favorite Campus Event(s): Pokemon Raids
Favorite Theatre Production(s): This is a hard question. Most-recently seen: Come From Away. Most-recently directed: Ragtime
Childhood Dream Job: A kangaroo farmer / lawyer in Australia
Hobbies: Movies, Pokemon, jigsaw puzzles, Zelda, Munchkin, reading and…. trying to write my book.
Pets: My pups George Gershwin and Gus
Favorite Quote: “Bottom line is, even if you see 'em coming, you're not ready for the big moments. No one asks for their life to change, not really. But it does. So what are we, helpless? Puppets? No.The big moments are gonna come. You can't help that. It's what you do afterwards that counts.That's when you find out who you are.” -- Joss Whedon

Read more in the Humans of Heidelberg series.

Upcoming Events

Recent News at Heidelberg

More Campus News