Photograph by Joseph Labolito
This winter, the Department of Theater will embark on its second round of an innovative playwriting initiative—commissioning and producing a world premiere play—thanks to Fox alumnus David Steele, BBA ’91. In 2016, Steele, the founder and CEO of One Wealth Advisors in San Francisco, established the Playwright Residency Program at Temple University’s Department of Theater.
A true everyman, Steele began his professional career with J. P. Morgan Securities, but soon branched out as an entrepreneur. Once he was confident and secure in his success, Steele pondered the expansive possibilities of his professional life.
Now he is the founder and manager of five businesses from restaurants to yoga studios in the San Francisco area. In addition to his primary business One Wealth Advisors, Steele is the co-creator Moxie Yoga & Fitness, founder and Managing Partner of Ne Timeas Restaurant Group, Managing Partner of Foxsister Hospitality Group and Managing Partner of Noise Pop Industries, an independent music promoter.
Steele is also a board member of Playground, a nonprofit playwright incubator in San Francisco and the New York Foundation for the Arts (NYFA), a nonprofit service organization that empowers working artists and emerging arts organizations across all disciplines.
His longtime interest in the arts and the perceived lack of arts patronage on the West Coast led Steele back to Temple University. “We don’t have a patron artist culture or society as I wish we did. This [program] is really just a form of patronage,” says Steele.
When Temple approached him with the residency proposal, Steele, a visual artist and playwright himself, felt it was a perfect match for his ideals and investment. “They came up with a concept that was absolutely perfect with my ideas and my ideals,” says Steele. “I really didn’t have anything to add to it. And I equally believe in getting out of the way of artists.”
The past, present and future of the program
The Playwright Residency Program was developed by former Temple professor Edward Sobel, past Director of New Play Development at Steppenwolf Theatre Company. It is uniquely structured to support playwrights and their work. Playwrights are guaranteed a full production of the play following a short development process, allowing them to remain in close contact with the original generative impulse. They also have the opportunity to write for a known ensemble of actors and artists to create pieces suited to the strengths of the students at Temple University.
The first result of the program was the 2017 production of Reggie Hoops by Kristoffer Diaz, author of the Pulitzer Prize-nominated The Elaborate Entrance of Chad Deity. Diaz created a full length drama about a former NBA assistant general manager faced with the decision between the profession she loves and the family life she cherishes. The world premiere production featured the six 2018 master of fine arts (MFA) acting students as well as original designs from MFA design students.
This academic year, a new class of students will have the opportunity to participate in the program with playwright Marisela Treviño Orta, a Mexican-American artist whose work has been produced at the Marin Theater Company, Oregon Shakespeare Festival and Arizona Theatre Company, among others. The actors and designers will work directly with Treviño Orta and director, Professor Lindsay Goss, on Somewhere, a drama about a world on the verge of ecological collapse. The production will run from January 29 to February 9 in Randall Theater.
To purchase tickets to Somewhere, click here.