Devin Preston is the Program Coordinator for Trillium as well as the Technical Director and a CORE Member. He loves to direct as well as perform.
Q: How long have you been a part of Trillium?
A: My first experience with Trillium was taking a break-dancing class from one of Trillium’s founders, Beth White, in the mid-eighties. At that time, Trillium was nomadic and would rent facilities such as Carnegie Hall or GVT for their yearly performances. As I was involved with both of those organizations as a technician, I ended up doing tech work for many of Trillium’s shows, and soon was drafted as a performer in several pieces. In 2007, I was invited to be on the board and to become a CORE artist with the organization, an offer I will forever be grateful for. As a side note, I can still do The Worm.
Q: What is your Theatrical background?
A: My first role was as an orphan in GVT’s 1983 production of Oliver!, and my love for theater began right there in that old barn out by the airport. I continued to be involved sporadically for the next couple years, but at the age of 13, I enrolled in GVT’s apprentice program, and what began as a hobby quickly became a profession. In theater, I’m the equivalent of baseball’s “five tool player” – I act, direct, sing, dance, write, design, and can do all tech jobs. I’ve been a member of both Actors’ Equity (the acting union) and IATSE (the stagehands’ union), have worked on over 300 productions (often in multiple capacities), and performed in seven states, three countries, and two continents.
Q: What does being a CORE member mean?
A: What I love most about being a CORE member of Trillium is the support that the organization grants me as an artist. It’s such a welcoming feeling to be told, “Here, here’s your space, here’s a budget, here’s some people who’d like to perform, now go create!” Sadly, this is a real rarity in the art world, and so I fully appreciate and acknowledge how lucky I am to be living in this community, and what that artistic freedom means to me.
Q: Where do you get some of your ideas for a piece? What inspires you?
A: What I’ve really come to realize over the years is that I’m a storyteller at heart. So, even though my medium might change from piece to piece – sometimes I do a straight theatre piece, sometimes it’s just dance, sometimes mostly music, and more often than not, it actually ends up as a hybrid of these forms. All of them started off with a story I wanted to tell; a story that I think is relevant, because I want the art I make to continue broadening people’s minds, to make them think, even if (or especially if) they don’t agree with me. Stories have always been the most important way we communicate thoughts, reflections, information, ideas, and ideals, and I’m making it my personal crusade for that to continue to be the case in the 21st century.
Q: What are some of the events that Trillium sponsors throughout the year?
A: One of my most favorite things about Trillium is the volume of performance opportunities it provides for the community at large. Whether you’re a concert violinist or an amateur songwriter making a debut performance, you are more than welcome to showcase your artistry in Trillium’s family-friendly open forum, Friday Night Alive! held nearly every other month. The Trillium Concert Series, held three times a year, feature casts of around thirty actors and dancers, the vast majority of which are local community members. And Trillium’s performing youth group, TPY, takes a talented group of teens on tour throughout the county, performing professionally choreographed works for senior citizens and elementary students, free of charge.
Q: This is Trillium’s 35th year. Where do you see the organization going in the future?
A: I see some exciting times ahead for us. Trillium began as a group of talented young artists who moved into this area and joined together to create art, any way they could. 35 years later, and the goal is still the same, but most of those artists have retired or taken a much less involved role in running the organization. Until recently, there was some concern among the board that unless the mantle was taken up by a new crop of talented young artists, Trillium might have to retire, too. Enter stage right Hannah Morningstar-Stout, Henry Hill Jr, Jennifer Sprouse, and Michael Buttrill, just to name a few. Even I, at 41, and after ten years of being here, still think I’ve got enough gas in the tank for a few more decades of art-making – if I get tired, I’ll just look to Trillium’s patron saint/godmother, Eileen Kramer – 102 years old, and still choreographing down under, in her native Australia. Yes, this next wave of Trillium artists and board members will carry us far into the future, and while I’ve loved where we’ve been, I’m very excited to see what’s coming up ahead!
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About the May concert, Weathering the Elements, Devin, who plays Earth, says:
“Weathering the Elements is the culmination of an idea Trillium’s core artists started with two years ago – a show that would bring together the elements of theatre, dance, and science to provide an educational experience for Greenbrier County youth that was also highly entertaining. Contemporary dance is often difficult for youth (and some adults, too!) to access and understand, because expression through movement is not an art form many in rural Appalachia are familiar with. But with the help of our guide, Professor Merryweather, students and adults alike will easily see how the elements of Earth, Air, Fire, and Water work together to not only create weather phenomena like hurricanes and volcanoes, but also how they connect with our bodies and our planet to create the perfect conditions for nurturing and sustaining life.”
Weathering the Elements is May 19 and 29 at 7:30 p.m. at the historic Lewis Theatre on Court Street North in Lewisburg. Tickets are $10 for adults, $5 for students and 6 and under are free. For more information call the Trillium office 304-645-3003.