Andrew Hungerford began at Know Theatre as lighting designer in 2007. In June, the director-actor-designer (who has a design degree from University of Cincinnati and a BS in astrophysics) became the experimental company’s general director. Over coffee, Hungerford outlined the tasks he faces, from keeping ticket prices low to staying true to Know’s role as an “artistic playground.” He’s thinking big.
You’re going to stage Moby Dick? Mike Burnham and I are codirecting an adaptation in the fall, a small-cast [production] full of sea chanties. We’re doing a highly theatrical version that’s movement and design based.
The whole thing? Yes, the whole novel. It’s a really strong adaptation, because it’s not just the greatest hits. [The production ties into] this [yearlong] theme we’ve selected of adaptation, where all of the shows in our coming season are either literal adaptations of a genre or literary work, or they’re about characters adapting to new circumstances.
What are some immediate challenges for Know? We do two big things: We do our mainstage season and then the Fringe Festival. Over the last few seasons I think the Fringe Festival has eclipsed the mainstage, in terms of public awareness. I want to find a way for our mainstage season to generate as much excitement as the Fringe does. Then, we’re trying to find a way to balance our ticket prices so that we’re making it clear what the work is worth, while still giving opportunities for people who, say, couldn’t even afford a $15 ticket to come and see the show.
How has the theater changed in recent years? In the first few years I was working for Know it was a “we’re a bunch of twentysomething kids making theater” mentality. There were too many all-nighters. And there was a lot of last-minute scrambling. As the theater has matured, we’ve been getting really good at getting away from that. We’re fortunate now to have a great technical team.
What makes Know unique? Part of what makes Know Theatre really special is the community of artists and of audience members that come on these challenging adventures with us. People trust our show selection and want to be challenged.
Illustration by Pablo
Originally published in the July 2014 issue