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Behind The Scenes
With...Robert Maletta


STARTING OUT

How did you get started in theatre?
I signed up for an Adult  Ed course, went to the school, they asked me to read a part, I read and the rest is history, that was in 1968.

What hooked you? School play, Broadway show, etc.
That first play, "Black Comedy and White Liars" I played the part of Harold Gorringe in Black Comedy.

What was the first show you ever worked on?
My first backstage work was in preparing canvas flats for  "Black Comedy".

What was first show you ever saw?
"An Evening of Comedy" with Mike Nicols and Elaine May.



WHAT I DO

Now I concentrate on Directing.

What is your position on a production?
Director

Describe what your job entails.  What are the duties of your job? 
I cast the show, I design my set, I choose the costumes, I work on  the lighting, sound plan, Direct all the action that takes place on the stage, and just about anything else it takes to get a production up and running.

Did you go to school to learn what you do?
No..Learned everything I know from working these past 32 years in local theater.



MY THEATER EXPERIENCE

What has been your favorite show to work on?
There have been many in my 32 years in theater, however, I think "Grease" and "Anything Goes" are perhaps two of my all time favorites.

What motivates you to keep doing what your doing?
My total love of everything "Theater".

How do you feel about pre-casting?
I am against it.  I will call people I know to come and audition for a show I am casting, but I feel pre-casting keeps you from seeing new and, perhaps, better suited actors for the roles.

What was your worst theater experience?
When I was touring as an actor with a Dinner Theater Company.  I was playing the role of Barney Fishman in "Last of  the Red Hot Lovers".  The stage crew didn't set the platform stage correctly, and when Barney tries to be cool with Elaine Navarro, he sits on the arm of the sofa.  Well, I sat, the plywood under the rug popped up, the sofa tilted, the lamp went flying, it was a nightmare.

What was your best theater experience?
As an actor, taking my bow (no artificial high can compete with the feeling)

As a director, hearing the laughter, and applause when everything works.

If you could give one message to ALL of the actors out there, what would it be?
When you get a role: Work, work, do your homework, and never forget to treat the techies with the respect they deserve.  They are truly the backbone of every show. Stay focused at all times, especially in rehearsal,
it's expected duriing the run.

If you could give one message to ALL the producers out there, what would it be?
Meet the deadlines that you set when you meet with the Director.

If you could give one message to ALL the directors out there, what would it be?
Know your show backwards and forwards.  Don't be too rigid, let your actors play with their characters, let them experiment (not for too long), and always remember to give a pat on the back for a job well done.

If you could give one message to ALL the other techies out there, what would it be?
Never forget your importance to a production.  Meet your deadlines, stay
focused, and enjoy the fruits of your labors.

Why do you work at the theatres that you do?
I get total cooperation from the management, boards of directors etc.



FUN

Do you think Long Island theater will continue to grow?
I would hope that "Good quality" theater will continue to grow.

What brings you greatest joy?
The moment the lights go down and the curtain up.

What irks you?
Poor productions.  Sloppy productions, miscast productions, taking the theater going public for granted.

If you won lotto tomorrow you would...
Retire, and do more theater.

Is it true you would rather be rich than good looking?
Damn right!

What's your favorite word?
Focus!

Assuming that there is a heaven, what do you want to hear when you get there?
That I led a good life and never conciously hurt anyone.



THE FUTURE

Do you have any upcoming projects that you would like the readers to know about?
I will be casting "Playing Doctor" at the Clare Rose Playhouse at St. Joseph's College in January.

What is your dream theatrical project?
I would love to direct "Anything Goes" again, but on a large stage on the order of the Patchogue Theater, and have a cast of wonderful singers, dancers and actors.