Cameo: Stephanie Ybarra

The new artistic director at Baltimore Center Stage shares her vision for the theater.

Lauren LaRocca - January 2019

Cameo: Stephanie Ybarra

The new artistic director at Baltimore Center Stage shares her vision for the theater.

Lauren LaRocca - January 2019

-Mike Morgan

You recently started as the artistic director of Baltimore Center Stage after spending seven years at The Public Theater in New York. What has it been like to transition from New York City’s theater scene to Baltimore’s scene?
New York is crawling—just crawling—with theaters, ensembles, and collectives of all shapes and sizes. It’s like a proliferation of them. It’s amazing, and it’s a lot to sift through. To me, Baltimore feels like a much more intimate and focused community of art makers, and that is really exciting. In New York, you can’t even keep track.

You’ve shown interest in sociopolitical shows and the relationship between theater and community. How, in your opinion, do they connect?
The intersection between theater and social justice, civic engagement, and community engagement really calcified for me when I went to a training a few years ago called Facilitation for Social Justice at the Interaction Institute for Social Change. I was the only arts and culture worker inside a room full of healthcare workers, educators, and social service providers. I thought to myself, ‘I might be in the wrong room.’

But a big chunk of the curriculum was spent breaking down the importance of narrative inside of social justice work. A light bulb went off in my head: stories! Our society is fueled by stories and the most compelling will change people’s hearts and minds for better or worse. They’ll influence entire communities of people; they’ll influences policies and laws.

What upcoming programming are you excited about at Center Stage?
[Former artistic director] Kwame Kwei-Armah and [executive director] Michael Ross worked to put this season together. This spring, Fun Home is a successful mainstream musical that puts the LGBTQ community at the center of its narrative, which feels revelatory. Indecent does the same thing from a completely different point of view, and so does How to Catch Creation.

Those are all subverting the dominant narrative in different ways. You can expect more of that as I am planning the 2019-20 season, and I am standing squarely on the shoulders of Center Stage’s rich legacy of inviting masterful storytellers to start to subvert and challenge who’s telling what story.

What is your vision for the future of Center Stage?
It goes back to the idea of community engagement. I’m really hopeful that the Center Stage building will become even more central to the civic life of Baltimore City and the surrounding areas. I’m equally excited to get out of the building— for our activities and programs to live just as fully outside of the walls of Center Stage.





You May Also Like


The Chatter

Pete Davidson Buys McDonald’s for Movie Goers in Maryland

During a showing of Avengers: Endgame in Bel Air, the comedian treated the audience to burgers and fries.

Arts District

Is the BSO Headed for a Lockout?

In recent weeks, the ongoing dispute between musicians and management has reached a tipping point over financial woes.

Arts District

The Big Baltimore Playlist: April 2019

The top five local songs you should download right now.


Arts District

Don’t Throw Away Your Shot to Catch Hamilton at the Hippodrome

We caught up with the show’s Peggy/Maria ahead of the show’s summer visit.

Arts & Culture

Music Reviews: June 2019

The latest from Abdu Ali and Kotic Couture.

MaxSpace

Movie Review: Rocketman

The pop icon is vividly brought to life in this kaleidoscopic biopic.

-Mike Morgan

Connect With Us

Most Read


Enoch Pratt Brings Digital Resources to Local Laundromats: Wash and Learn Initiative aims to provide resources to those without regular Internet access

Culture Club: D. Watkins, TT The Artist’s New Doc, and Pride at Creative Alliance: Our monthly roundup of openings, events, and news from the art world.

Adley Rutschman is the New Face of the Orioles Rebuild: Get to know the first pick of the O’s Moneyball era, who seems poised for greatness.

The Iconic Marble Bar is Being Revived Into a Community Cafe: Mobtown Ballroom owners plan to pay homage to the former punk rock haven.

Baltimore Native André De Shields Wins First Tony Award: De Shields gave a shout-out to Charm City in his acceptance speech for his role in “Hadestown”