EUSTIS — Joel Warren doesn't have the title "artistic director" at the Bay Street Players, although he assumed the leadership of the theater earlier this year.
Warren's comfortable enough with the title "creative consultant," which describes what he says he does best.
"I work best with others," he said. "You have to remove the ego and make it a collaborative organization."
He envisions using guest directors if, and only if, they are passionate about a certain project, if they fit into the direction the Bay Street Players have identified and mainly in Second Stage series productions.
"As long as I am welcome at the Bay Street Players, my plan is not to direct every show, not to make it the 'Joel Warren theater,'" he said. "I've been performing in Lake since 1996, so I think I have quite a feel for Lake County."
As an actor, he was mentored by Terrence Shank, longtime artistic director at the IceHouse Theatre in Mount Dora before leaving to attend the California Institute of Arts.
After graduation, he returned to be Shank's Artist in Residence and finally took Shank's job when Shank left for South Africa. He and his wife, Amanda Warren, who directs the Bay Street's Young People's Theatre, later founded the Warren Acting Company before Warren was tagged to run Bay Street's Second Stage series with its small casts and big ambitions.
"We are building on what really was a decade of progress under [former artistic director] David Clevinger," he said. "But it would be foolish to try to keep it where it is. We have to keep moving forward, making more progress."
Warren just wrapped up a run of "See Rock City" at the Orlando Fringe Festival. The show, which he directed, first ran at the State Theatre in Eustis, the Bay Street Players' home.