Kevin Moore says 'goodbye' as artistic director at The Human Race Theatre
On May 14th, The Human Race Theatre in Dayton will pay tribute to Kevin Moore. Moore is the organization’s current artistic Director and has been involved with the theatre for all of its 35 year existence. He’s retiring this week. WYSO’s Jerry Kenney recently spoke with him about the theatre’s early days and how he became a part of it.
Kevin Moore: "The three founding members were Susie Bassani, Carol Phillips and Sarah Exley. In 86', I was in contact with Suzy Bassani. She had decided that it was time she was right to start a professional theater company. During that time, I was living in New York, and soon after that, she had asked both myself and Scott Stoney to come back and help put this company together. She gathered Marsha Hannah, who at the time was working for Mead Data Central, Bob Hetherington, who was on the theater faculty at Wright State University, Tony Dallas, who was an artist in Yellow Springs theater, and educator Sheila Ramsay, performer, and Michael Lippert, actor. Those were sort of I would call the founding members of the company, and then it tended to grow from there and literally launch the company with a production at the then Victory Theater and got it off the ground."
"The name of the company comes from a dinner that the three founders and their husbands were having, and as it was relayed to me, they were out, I believe, at a Chinese restaurant having dinner. And the question of, 'Well, what are we going to call this company? And Suzy - and I do a very bad accent of Suzy because she's impossible to replicate - but she said, 'Darling, it must be something bigger than Dayton. It just can't be the Dayton this or the Dayton that. It has to be much larger!' And Pino, who was a man of few words, but when he spoke you listened said, 'Well, Suzy, why don't you call it the human race?' And she was like, 'That's perfect. All the world's a stage. We'll call it The Human Race!'"
"And it stuck. And Sarah actually was the first president of the board and would love to go around and introduce herself as president of the human race."
Let's talk about the early days, because my understanding is that you guys were doing some pretty edgy or innovative stuff that wasn't being done here, certainly in the Dayton area.
"Well, I think that was always key to who we were as an organization and what we attempted to do, particularly in the early days, because there wasn't any other professional theater in the area. You had to go to Cincinnati, to the Cincinnati Playhouse. There was another young company starting down there about the same time as we did, which was Ensemble Theater, which is still there. So, we had to sort of be both the edgy and the middle of the road. So, we did the sort of just off-Broadway sort of plays. We tried to do some Broadway fare. We tried to do some Shakespeare so that we were serving a wide spectrum. It became very hard to sort of stay in one lane because we were serving a much larger base, which sometimes made it difficult for people to really get a sense of who we were."
"You know, we weren't a classic theater company by any means. When we would do Shakespeare, we would do a twist on Shakespeare. It would be set somehow differently. So, it was always something creative. We were very interested in just the telling of stories that showed our humanity, and that sometimes meant seeing an uglier side of our humanity. But we always felt that that was the way for a community to grow and develop, that it became an educational tool as well as entertainment."
On Saturday, May 14 at the Victoria Theater, there is a celebration and a tribute performance for your retirement.
"So, I'm told that!"
Do you know what's coming your way that night?
"I have not a clue. I was given the date. I was told, 'hold it and show up' and it's all being planned. And I walk into a room and suddenly it gets quiet. I go, ‘Oh, I know what you're talking about.’ So, I know it's all going to be a surprise to me. But I have faith and I'm sure that it will be entertaining. I'm hoping I don't have to do anything. If it's a roast, I'll try to take my best humor along with me, because there's so many ways they could go with that."
Kevin Moore is the artistic director of the Human Race Theater. Kevin, quick thoughts on what's next for you.
"Well, some traveling is in mind. I actually have already booked an Alaskan cruise, which is something we've been wanting to do for years, and it always fell during the time when we were in rehearsals. So that's already set, [also] some home projects that have been waiting a long time to get done, and seeing what life has to bring when I'm not here full time. So, I'm excited about it."
Kevin, I know you're going to enjoy the celebration and tribute performance that they're holding for you at the Victoria Theater on Saturday, May 14, 2022. Thank you, so much, and good luck with everything you decide to do from this point on. And I know the Dayton community thanks you for your contributions to the arts.
"Thank you. I appreciate it."
The Human Race will pay tribute to Kevin in a production set for Saturday, May 14, 8:00 p.m. at The Victoria Theatre. You can find ticket information at the Human Race Theatre website.
You can listen to the full interview with Jerry Kenney and Kevin Moore here: