We had the good fortune of connecting with Zach Stolz and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Zach, what are you inspired by?
We here at Happy Accident Theatre are inspired by art that surprises us, by pieces of theatre or performance that seem to spring from out of nowhere (or maybe everywhere?), and ultimately that things that don’t feel safe, that aren’t sure things from a producing standpoint.
We formed in response to wanting to see and experience theatre that wasn’t inside of anyone’s comfort zone – whether that be by approaching challenging subjects, by subverting genres, by blasting away tired old tropes, or by helping to inject new life into things that were once thought dead.
And new work. Always new work. There’s nothing more inspiring in the realm of theatre than the act of creation, the process of something new coming to life and shouting into the world for the first time.
Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
I grew up moving around a lot, and as a result, I frequently had to build new communities, find new groups of people. As my life went on and my traditional family became a non-extant pillar for me to depend on, I really fell in love with the notion of “found family.” Media about found family, seeing it as a trope really appealed to me. Watching directors/theatres that had their core company but also knew how to bring in new people into the fold was a fascination. I’ve grown past that idea in some aspects, but I want every show that I produce/direct to include the old and the new to me. To have folks who I’ve worked with, built my shorthand with, AND continue to expand my world with new artists to learn from.
My greatest love in theatre work is the art of collaboration and the building of relationships. It’s not a solitary art, or at least, it shouldn’t be. What I love to do is bring in as many people as I can, to get as many different perspectives, life experiences, professional levels, you name it, as many as possible into the room so that once we start creating, input comes from everywhere. From that, you connect with so many people and you build this family, these partnerships. Maybe it’s because I am a true extrovert, but the more people that I can fill my time with, work with, and experience life with, the more full and fulfilled I feel. And the more genuine the art we make can be.
Honestly, most of the wonderful things that have happened to me in my career thus far have been either pure dumb luck, or because of someone that I’ve worked with. Whether that be a referral, a head’s up about an opportunity, or “getting the band back together” to self-produce something and see what can happen.
So between building my theatrical family and having somewhere along the line found the gumption to say “I don’t see what I wish I could see in the theatre landscape, so I’m going to make it”, I am proud of the fact that I am building a world I am excited to live in.
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
After the last year, this feels like an impossible question! I guess I’d start in the Little Five Points area. I was an apprentice at Horizon Theatre and spent the better part of a year down there. We’d get coffee at Aurora, catch up, and then dig up some food. I think a lazy day following that of walking around and hitting up Videodrome for a wonderful meander through the stacks, letting nostalgia for movies hit us, and grabbing a handful of movies to binge over some Savage Pizza. After covering that corner of town, I think Piedmont Park makes the list, Ponce feels perfunctory but a good way to kill some time if partnered with the Beltline.
Honestly, I’d open it up to the friend and see what they were looking for! If theatre was open, we’d find a show, that much I know. Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
Molly Penny, Esther Lang Reeves, Caleigh Derreberry, and Wade Lawrence Holloman must also be mentioned, they are the rest of the current/former creative forces behind Happy Accident Theatre. A collection of brilliant actors/directors/playwrights/artists who are driving this company forward (once it is safe to drive forward again).
We would also be remiss if we didn’t shout out the dozens of folks who helped us in forming this company, whether it be long coffee shop sessions, phone calls, office visits, or support in getting us off the ground. An amazing community of people rose up to help us get started.
Instagram: happyaccidenttheatre and zachstolz
Caroline Ficken, Danielle Korman