BRENTWOOD -- On Sunday, the Brentwood Art, Wine and Jazz Festival will be the site of the Brentwood Art Society's presentation of its Artist of the Year for 2013. This year's honoree will be Steve Kinsella for his art, his contributions to the community and the leadership he has provided.
Kinsella came to Brentwood after learning that in a questionnaire sent to 10,000 Brentwood homes, the largest item requested was more performing arts. Kinsella purchased a house and he has been honoring their request ever since, presently serving as artistic director of the Brentwood Theater Company and of the East Bay Performing Arts Academy.
Within the Arts Academy, Kinsella heads the Kinsella Theater Group, which works with all ages to strengthen performance and upfront skills. Taking seriously the responsibility of working with youth, he also directs Summer Camp Theater and Brentwood Teen Theater, open to ages 10 through 19.
Kinsella and Jack Gaughan saw the need for a musical theater company in Brentwood so they founded, with the Art Society, Broadway Under the Stars.
"We built a temporary theater and just completed our 11th show, Fiddler on the Roof," Gaughan said. "We've also put on musical theater revues, and Kinsella entertains at various community functions and has worked with the high schools' theater programs."
From having worked so closely together, Gaughan describes Kinsella as "one of the best directors I've ever worked for," crediting him with excellence in teaching, organizing stage directions, casting, directing rehearsals, and working with the choreographer and music director.
"The director's job is to take a play and come up with his vision of how it should be staged and adapted to the space, time and people available," Gaughan said. "His function is to make sure what the quality and overall look of the production is."
Kinsella and Gaughan, who was honored as last year's Artist of the Year, are credited with bringing major Broadway musical theater to the community and Gaughan sees their success as a combined effort. "It was because of Steve's vision of what it would be and my vision of how to do it that we succeeded," he said. "The impact on the community is enormous. We have a great reputation and it's partly because of Steve and his long history in the theater business."
Kinsella values his theater experiences within the community, citing his pleasure at watching young performers blossom and seeing entire families involved in productions.
"Theater is a great equalizer. In any one publicity photo for a Broadway Under the Stars production, it is easy to spot people from all walks of life who have come together for an artistic good that is better than the sum of its parts," Kinsella said.
As such, Kinsella believes he shares his award with all the casts he has directed, who have accepted his direction, integrated it into their own artistic expression, shared it with audiences and made him look good.
"On a larger scale this award is a validation of my dream to increase the cultural quality of life in the far East Bay," Kinsella said. "It is my hope this award will bring attention to the nonprofit status of the Brentwood Theater and Brentwood Teen Theater and that those who can will lend a helping hand or dollar to support live theater."