Luke Tatge is a longtime writer, executive director of nonprofit Sioux Falls Stage and Gallery, and he's the operations director for the Good Night Theatre Collective.
- Oh, and he has a full-time job at Epicosity on top of all that, no big deal. We chatted with this busy artist about local theater and the upcoming debut of his original musical, "Salem."
Answers have been edited for length and clarity. All answers are direct quotes from Tatge.
How did you ‘get smart’ about theater – i.e. what in your background or in your own research/activities prepared you for your role today?
I'm not someone who came from theater – I come from writing, and I've been writing since I was a little kid. I sort of married into theater. My husband studied it and is very active in it.
- I fashioned my love of movies and the narrative form into his world, and that's how I ended up a playwright.
We’re all about simplicity here. Can you describe Sioux Falls’ local theater scene in 10 words or less?
Open-minded, creative and better than outsiders might assume
What’s something people most often misunderstand about local theatre – and specifically original productions? (And, if you could politely correct them, what would you say?)
People mistakenly assume that the words "original, local theater" are scary. I think a lot of (local) groups that are dabbling a bit more in debuting works are sort of changing that narrative.
I also think there's maybe an unfair assessment that it will not be as good as something you've heard of, and more often than not – especially lately – we've gotten to a point where that's not the case.
You're likely to be surprised.
What's your favorite role that you've played in a theater production – either onstage, off-stage or a character you wrote?
I'm not a stage performer, that's for sure.
As far as stuff I've written or roles I've played behind the scenes, I would say my favorite thing I've written is probably (murder mystery) "Suspect," which is a musical I wrote this past season.
- That's mostly because I grew up reading Agatha Christie as a kid, and it was like a culmination of my musical love.
This upcoming musical, "Salem," is decidedly different in that it's a drama. I'm almost equally excited about it and proud of it because I forced myself not to lean in to humor for once.
What's been the most satisfying production to see come to life on stage in your time with the Good Night Theatre Collective?
I'm somewhat partial to our season four (they're in season seven now) production of the "Rocky Horror Picture Show."
- It was the first whole musical production that I had directed that wasn't my own show, and using teh space at Icon we had to be really creative with our approach.
- It was also the first time I've had a chance to take something really well-known and put a creative spin on it with the team.
It sort of felt like the maturation point of the company where we entered a new phase and a new creative wavelength than before.
What's your advice for someone who wants to learn more about local theater?
I would advise they pick up a copy of Sioux Falls Stage, firstly. I hope it can be a guide and feature local companies who do very different things.
You can also check our website. We've got a show practically every month.
This particular show – "Salem," running Nov. 3-5 – is the biggest production we've ever embarked upon, and so it's really exciting to see it come to life.
- It's a cast of 26 people and 11 youth actors, and there's an eight-piece live orchestra.
- It's something that we probably, six years ago, would never have imagined we'd put together.
How do you spend your time when you're not thinking about or working in the theater?
I work full-time as a creative director at Epicosity. When I'm not at work, I'm usually writing a musical, helping with the Goodnight Theater Collective or with nonprofit Sioux Falls Stage and Gallery, or sleeping on the couch.
Anything else you want the people of Sioux Falls to know about you, your job or the local theater scene?
I'm very heartened by how open both patrons and fellow theater artists are in Sioux Falls to try new things and to be supportive of each other.
I think the environment right now is just so overwhelmingly positive. I'm excited to see what's next, and I'm excited that I get to be a part of it.