News Column

Bodford passionate about role of artistic educator and director

July 7, 2013


July 07--Bobby Bodford, former artistic and education director of the Children's Theatre of Winston-Salem, brought to the Surry Arts Council 43 years of professional directing experience in May.

"Theater is for everybody, there are so many wonderful life experiences you can have in theater, especially in production. In the end, you create a family, " said Bodford.

Bodford has worked all facets of theater including being an actor, a head costume designer, a producer and director.

A crowning moment in his career came when he was asked to worked with Angela Lansbury on the set of "Murder She Wrote," as head costume designer.

Bodford said he worked closely with Lansbury on the set for three years.

"Angela Lansbury has been a major influence for me, she encouraged me to go back into theater. She is the ultimate professional," said Bodford.

After finding his niche as Lansbury's head costumer, he said became her friend. It was hard to leave Los Angeles, he said.

Another of Bodford's favorite plays that he wrote and directed is "Wildwood Flowers, the June Carter Cash Story." Cash's daughters starred in the performance.

He said the family allowed them to use mother Maybelle Carter's guitar, and the cast was overwhelmed.

From 2008-2013, he worked for the Twin City Stage and the Children's Theatre in Winston-Salem, where he produced and directed some favorites such as: "Aladdin," "Treasure Island," "Dracula," "Beauty and the Beast Jr.," "Three Musketeers All Swash and No Buckle," "The Somewhat True Tail of Robin Hood," "A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court," "The Little Mermaid," "101 Dalmatians," "A Children's Christmas Carol," "Smoke on the Mountain," "Sanders Family Christmas" and "Jekyll and Hyde."

Bodford said, "Children theater is very refreshing."

He is working on the upcoming play "9-5: The Musical," which is in its fifth week of rehearsals at the Surry Arts Council. Performances will be held July 27, 28 and 29.

Bodford will direct the children's musical camp and production of "101 Dalmatians," also in July.

Bodford said the Andy Griffith Playhouse could and should be a "flagship theater."

"I aspire to create successful programs," said Bodford.

He said at the playhouse, he will create and direct plays with enough variety to make sure opportunities are there and "the door is open."

Bodford said the community also may get involved by volunteering as ushers, working backstage and building props.

Bodford studied theater at University of North Carolina at Greensboro. He went to work in a dinner theater after his professor pulled him out of class and told him he was right for the part. Next, he went to New York.

Bodford coined his years of dinner theater as "theater in the trenches." He said it proved to be an excellent way to learn and make money.

Speaking to the diverse audience found in the dinner theater setting challenges actors and is a great learning tool; all the layers and nuance of his experiences have become part of his method, he said.

He laughed when he recalled the shock of his early years of stage performance in New York.

More accustomed to the formal theater training in college, he discovered the costumes and wardrobe department often meant choosing from one's closets.

Years later he said his motto, "Whether the money is there or not, I must set up the way it needs to be set up."

Bodford said acting helps people find purpose, like making music.

"You can change children's lives daily and get them off the street," said Bodford.

He said there are a lot of payoffs in the business, but it is not a huge monetary gain.

"If an actor does it for money, he won't do it for very long. It is a passion."

Bodford said like any other sport, "Acting is teamwork.

"The difference in acting is that no one, who has worked hard on the team, is left sitting on the bench. Every single teammate pulls off the production," he said.

Bodford demonstrated with passion and the use of his hands how theater work requires the body and mind functioning on "all cylinders."

He loves comedy and has done a lot of it, he said.

"It is important we all laugh, it is one function that uses both sides of our brain when we are doing it," said Bodford.

At the end of the day, Bodford appeared the consummate professional as he illustrated a structural method of blocking a scene.

"Acting is believing," said Bodford.

In the end, he reminded, "no matter how creative, acting is a business, show business."

Bodford said it is remarkable how actors in community theater are willing to volunteer every night, for two months in a play, such as "9-5: The Musical" after working all day.

"Theater will always survive," concluded Bodford.

Bodford and his wife, also his assistant, live in Pilot Mountain.


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