Louis Farber of Stray Cat Theatre on the State of Investment in Phoenix's Arts

Farber in The Flick, directed by Ron May.EXPAND
Farber in The Flick, directed by Ron May.
John Groseclose

Every other year, New Times puts the spotlight on Phoenix's creative forces — painters, dancers, designers, and actors. Leading up to the release of Best of Phoenix, we're taking a closer look at 100 more. Welcome to the 2016 edition of 100 Creatives. Up today is 3. Louis Farber.

The one thing Louis Farber wishes people knew about Phoenix? How vibrant and dedicated the arts community is.

He's dedicated to one particular element of that community: Tempe's Stray Cat Theatre. 

Farber, 40, serves as associate artistic director at Stray Cat, where his responsibilities include reading plays, helping select works for the acclaimed indie troupe's upcoming seasons, and directing one of the works they choose to produce each season. "Ultimately," he says, "I feel my job is to help produce the best possible version of the play."

The director and actor's relationship with the troupe has been a long one. It started with him as an audience member. He then was cast in two season-eight shows: The Play About the Naked Guy and 12th Night of the Living Dead. But neither of those, he notes, were directed by founder Ron May. 

But May encouraged Farber to audition for Abraham Lincoln's Big Gay Dance Party. "I was cast," he says, "and I finally got to be directed by Ron."

A stint guest directing the 2011 production of MilkMilkLemonade, appearances in a few more shows, a smattering of ariZoni Awards, and a couple opportune meetings at Four Peaks later, May asked Farber to join Stray Cat in a more official capacity. 

Farber remembers feeling flattered and overwhelmed. "I was being asked by Ron May to join Stray Cat Theatre. Both incredibly well-respected by the local theater community and by me personally," he recalls. "I had begun to feel at home there as an artist, but I never expected to be asked to join the company. However unexpected, I knew that Ron and I worked well together, and were interested in and excited by provocative contemporary material."

Since becoming associate artistic director, Farber has helped craft four Stray Cat seasons, acted in three plays (including Annie Baker’s The Flick and Aaron Posner’s Stupid Fucking Bird), and directed plays including All New People by Zach Braff, The TomKat Project by Brandon Ogborn, and most recently Heathers: The Musical by Kevin Murphy and Laurence O'Keefe.

Next? He's joining the cast of Scorpius Dance Theatre's A Vampire Tale as the Strange Man. For Stray Cat, Farber says he looks forward to his fifth turn in the Stray Cat director's chair for Anything You Hear and Only Half of What You See by Ron Hunting.

Just a couple more things to add to the Valley's vibrancy. 

Farber directed Zach Braff's All New People, featuring Joseph Kremer, Michael Peck, Angelica Howland, and Kim Richards.EXPAND
Farber directed Zach Braff's All New People, featuring Joseph Kremer, Michael Peck, Angelica Howland, and Kim Richards.
John Groseclose

I came to Phoenix with plans to finish my bachelor’s degree and a job waiting for me as an RA at Arizona State University.

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I make art because I enjoy the process. Also, I honestly feel I was born to make art. It keeps me true to myself and keeps me human.

I'm most productive when I am under pressure. I feel a great deal of creating theater is being able to successfully operate within the confines of a given amount of time, existing budget, and available resources. Ultimately, I feel like my job is to help deliver the best possible version of the play that I can and pressure forces me to do that by being innovative and making a specific choices.

My inspiration wall is full of nothing. I do not have one. I rely on my imagination and collaboration with fellow artists for inspiration.

I've learned most from my mistakes.

Good work should always feel good to you. Whatever that means to you. Agonizing over what everyone else thinks is “good” is a waste of time, in my opinion.

The Phoenix creative scene could use more financial and political investment. I believe such investment would lead to more resources and visibility for the Phoenix arts community. Even though there are companies, agencies, and staunch advocates doing excellent work to support the arts and change the current landscape, they are all being thwarted by the lack of financial and political investment. The current state of investment in the arts is upsetting, especially since there are lots of brilliant individuals and magnificent organizations doing great work here. It would be wonderful if there was a purposeful and substantial investment to support them.

The 2016 Creatives so far:

100. Nicole Olson
99. Andrew Pielage
98. Jessica Rowe
97. Danny Neumann
96. Beth Cato
95. Jessie Balli
94. Ron May
93. Leonor Aispuro
92. Sarah Waite
91. Christina "Xappa" Franco
90. Christian Adame
89. Tara Sharpe
88. Patricia Sannit
87. Brian Klein
86. Dennita Sewell
85. Garth Johnson
84. Charissa Lucille
83. Ryan Downey
82. Samantha Thompson
81. Cherie Buck-Hutchison
80. Freddie Paull
79. Jennifer Campbell
78. Dwayne Hartford
77. Shaliyah Ben
76. Kym Ventola
75. Matthew Watkins
74. Tom Budzak
73. Rachel Egboro
72. Rosemary Close
71. Ally Haynes-Hamblen
70. Alex Ozers
69. Fawn DeViney
68. Laura Dragon
67. Stephanie Neiheisel
66. Michael Lanier
65. Jessica Rajko
64. Velma Kee Craig
63. Oliver Hibert
62. Joya Scott
61. Raji Ganesan
60. Ashlee Molina
59. Myrlin Hepworth
58. Amy Ettinger
57. Sheila Grinell
56. Forrest Solis
55. Mary Meyer
54. Robert Hoekman Jr.
53. Joan Waters
52. Gabriela Muñoz
51. ColorOrgy
50. Liz Magura
49. Anita and Sam Means
48. Liz Ann Hewett
47. Tiffany Fairall
46. Vanessa Davidson
45. Michelle Dock
44. Nia Witherspoon
43. Monique Sandoval
42. Nayon Iovino
41. Daniel Davisson
40. Andrew King
39. Michelle Moyer
38. Jimmy Nguyen
37. Tiffany Lopez
36. Kristin Bauer
35. Donna Isaac
34. Douglas Miles
33. Sierra Joy
32. Francisco Flores
31. Amy Robinson
30. Julio Cesar Morales
29. Duane Daniels
28. Kelsey Pinckney
27. Ben Smith
26. Rembrandt Quiballo
25. Corinne Geertsen
24. Tess Mosko Scherer
23. Slawomir Wozniak
22. Elly Finzer
21. Josh Brizuela
20. Amy K. Nichols
19. Angela Johnson
18. Grant Vetter
17. Michelle and Melanie Craven
16. Erick Biez
15. Leah Marche
14. Lisa Von Hoffner
13. Amada Cruz
12. Amber Robins
11. Xandriss
10. Steven Tepper
9. Bentley Calverley
8. Lisa Olson
7. Eric Torres
6. Genevieve Rice 
5. Kathleen Trott
4. Alberto Álvaro Ríos


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