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(Illustrations by Lily Snowden Fine)

People to Watch

A Pennsylvania-based director with a busy season ahead, and a Seattle-based writer and performer with strong point of view and a solo mini-tour.

Steve H. Broadnax III

FIRST THEATRICAL MEMORY? A production of Oklahoma! when I was a kid, which fascinated me. It was at a church in Little Rock, Ark. My grandmother, a music teacher at the time, bought me the record, and I played the hell out of it and memorized the songs.

LAST MEMORABLE THEATRICAL EXPERIENCE? The Playwrights Horizons production of Downstate by Bruce Norris, featuring the Steppenwolf Theatre company out of Chicago. I love the Steppenwolf, and Downstate is one of the most profound and exciting plays I have seen this year. I saw it three times.

WHAT’S NEXT FOR YOU? My next theatrical endeavor is the production of Bonez, which I wrote and am directing at People’s Light, where I am resident director. That runs Sept. 22-Oct. 15. It’s a social horror thriller investigating masculinity, intimacy, and childhood demons. I’m super excited about it.

WHAT ARE YOU READING? I’m currently rereading Sunset Baby by Dominique Morisseau, which I will be directing at Signature Theatre in New York as part of their upcoming 2024 season.

WHERE IS HOME TO YOU? I am from Little Rock, but my home is State College, Pa., where I am a tenured full professor and the co-head of MFA Directing at Penn State University.

Elijah Jones, Eric Robinson Jr. Keith A. Wallace, and John Clarence Stewart in “Bonez” at People’s Light. (Photo by Mark Gavin)

WHAT’S YOUR GREATEST FEAR? My grandmother, who raised me, is the most significant person in my life. I’m lucky she’s 94 years old, healthy, and doing very well, but my greatest fear is losing her and not having her with me.


WHAT IS THE “NOTE” YOU GET MOST OFTEN? “See your true reflection.” I’m unsure if it’s a note, but I’m learning to hold boundaries for myself and recognize and take my seat at the table and take space confidently.

WHEN SOMETHING COOL HAPPENS, WHO’S THE FIRST PERSON YOU CALL? Stori Ayers. She’s a storyteller and the co-founder of [RARE] Lotus Productions. She has a passion for stories that challenge social norms, ignite a spirit of activism, and inspire future generations. She is one of my best friends. I trust her and love our conversations.

IF YOU DIDN’T WORK IN THEATRE, WHAT WOULD YOU BE DOING? If I didn’t work in the theatre, I would be in the music and fashion industry, à la Pharrell Williams, Dapper Dan, and Jerry Lorenzo. I would be a recording artist with my own fashion house.

…there is collaboration.

Sara Porkalob

FIRST THEATRICAL MEMORY? I’m 5 years old seeing my first live play, The Wizard of Oz, at a community college, and I’m absolutely appalled that the people onstage are celebrating the fact that a whole house just fell on a person and killed them. I loved witches and didn’t understand why anyone would want to kill them—glad to say I feel the same now as I did then.


WHAT’S NEXT FOR YOU? A mini-tour of two of my plays from the Dragon Cycle! I’m taking Dragon Lady and Dragon Mama on the road: I’ll be in San Diego at Diversionary Theatre, then Marin Theatre Company in Mill Valley, Calif., then Pittsburgh Public Theater.

WHAT ARE YOU READING? Occult fantasy and sci-fi smut made up my entire summer reading list and I’m not ashamed. Currently reading A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness.

WHAT MUSIC ARE YOU LISTENING TO? A lot of Prince, early 2000s R&B, and hip-hop. The No. 1 repeated song on my workout playlist is “Techno Syndrome” from the film Mortal Kombat.

LAST SHOW YOU BINGE-WATCHED? I don’t watch TV like that. But if I’m being completely honest…I did binge-watch Season 2 of Bridgerton back in April 2022.

Sara Porkalob in “Dragon Mama” at American Repertory Theater. (Gretjen Helene Photography)

WHAT’S YOUR GREATEST FEAR? Becoming apathetic toward everything I care about.

WHAT GIVES YOU HOPE? Big butts, good food, lazy days at the beach with family and friends.

WHAT IS THE “NOTE” YOU GET MOST OFTEN? “Keep doing what you’re doing.”

IF YOU COULD GIVE YOUR YOUNGER SELF ONE PIECE OF ADVICE, WHAT WOULD IT BE? “Hey, Sara—start a Roth IRA today and maybe consider investing in Apple Inc.”

IF YOU COULD CHANGE ONE THING ABOUT THE THEATRE, WHAT WOULD IT BE? Oh, man, only one thing? Okay…let’s start with accessibility; I’d go back in time and ensure that every theatre/performance venue was designed with accessibility at the forefront, while also implementing a core pedagogical principle into our arts culture: Theatre is a community event that demands bringing it to where the community is rather than entombing it within the walls of an institution.

IF YOU DIDN’T WORK IN THEATRE, WHAT WOULD YOU BE DOING? I’d either be a domme muscle mommy on WWE making all the boy wrestlers cry/fall in love with me, or finding a way to make eating delicious food all over the world a profession.

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