Stephen Lloyd Helper
Stephen is an independent artist who creates highly successful theatre work both in Australia and in New York. Becoming known for creating and championing work of cultural diversity of the highest professional standard, Stephen received a Distinction in the Multicultural Arts Professional Development program at RMIT. He has also received his BA from the Theatre program at Yale University. His production of Syncopation
by Allan Knee had an extended season at Melbourne's Chapel Off Chapel Theatre and is now is planned for Off-Broadway in 2013.
Stephen's next project, The New Black
, has just completed exciting workshops funded by the Australia Council
with both New Musicals Australia and the Arts Centre Melbourne and is a musical comedy about a young, bright Aboriginal man trying to climb the corporate ladder.
Co-written with Marcus Corowa and Leeroy Bilney, Stephen previously collaborated with Corowa and Bilney at the Aboriginal Centre for Performing Arts in Brisbane where he conceived, devised and directed the critically acclaimed musical piece, Soul Music, at the Queensland Performing Arts Centre.
Among his Broadway credits, Stephen's production of Fiddler On The Roof for Jerome Robbins starring Herschel Bernardi and Maria Karnilova was nominated for the Best Revival Tony Award. Smokey Joe's Cafe, which he conceived for Broadway, is among the 30 longest running Broadway musicals of all time. Smokey Joe's was also a hit in the West End, on numerous American National Tours and has been performed on every inhabited continent.
At the Sydney Opera House, Stephen co-produced, conceived and directed Simply Weill – A Kurt Weill Cabaret, along with staging the star-studded concert of Follies with the Sydney Symphony Orchestra, You're Gonna Love Tomorrow by Stephen Sondheim and Love Letters all to acclaim. His production of What The World Needs Now at the Theatre Royal in Sydney was also a success. Stephen's other productions include Kind John, Hamlet, Marry Me a Little, Into The Woods, Oklahoma!, Two Gentlemen of Verona, Agnes of God, Miracle Mum and Gallipoli The Musical.
What did you want to be when you grew up?
I guess I wanted to be an orchestra conductor.
When did you know you would work in the arts?
It's in my DNA so before I was born.
How would you describe your work to a complete stranger?
I would say it's like captaining a ship of crazy people who are passionate about achieving the same goal.
How hard is it to be authentic in the arts nowadays?
It is hard and it's never been more important. It requires a mixture of deep research and soul searching.
Is there a mission to your work?
Yes, the mission is to create productions which act as a question central to humanity, be entertaining, reach a wide audience and are of the highest artistic standards.
What's your background - are there studies that prepare you for this?
I have a degree in theatre from Yale University, I apprenticed with incredible directors on Broadway and then everyday studies of human nature.
What's the first thing career related you usually do each day?
Can you describe an "average" working day for you?
My average day seems to be filled with infinite variety.
< What's the one thing - piece of equipment, toy, security blanket, – you can't work without?
What gets you fired up?
Artistic excellence in other people's work I find very inspiring and social injustice gets me fired up.
Who in the industry most inspires you?
What in the industry do you despair about?
A lack of multiculturalism in casting.
What is the best thing about your job?
The best thing about my job is having the opportunity to inspire other people.
What's the worst?
Uncertainty, except I've learnt to embrace it.
What are the top three skills you need in this industry?
You need the ability to see things from multiple points of view, you need to collaborate effectively and have a great sense of stage craft.
What advice would you give anyone looking to break into the field?
How do you know when you missed the mark?
When you haven't communicated what you intended.
Which of the below phrases best suits your career development to date and why?
"No one can cheat you out of ultimate success but yourself."
When do you know you've made it?
It's not a question I worry about.
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