Texas Wesleyan University alumni Dana Schultes hopes to capture and broaden the theater experience for all Stage West Theatre patrons.
In late January, Schultes was named executive producer and given the opportunity to make West into a highly-respect theater in the Fort Worth area.
“It was never really a goal of mine to become executive producer at Stage West, but I am incredibly honored to receive this position,” Schultes said.
Schultes has been a member of Stage West since 1997, when she was a Wesleyan student, and has worked in various capacities for more than 15 years, including directing, stage management and performing, according to stagewest.org.
Last May, Schultes was the keynote speaker at Wesleyan’s spring graduation ceremony. She graduated in 1998 with a bachelor of fine arts in theatre. She was recently named a 2016 class member of the Fort Worth Business Press’ 40 Under 40, and has been featured in national commercials, done voice-overs for many anime productions and performed in more than 30 plays.
“I was actually brought to Stage West by my mentor and founder of the theatre, Jerry Russell who found incredible potential in me,” Schultes said.
It’s not surprising Schultes would succeed as a performer and later transition into an administration position, according to Mark Lowry, co-founder, editor and chief theater critic of TheaterJones.com, a website that focuses on performances in the Fort Worth area.
“Dana has tons of confidence in onstage performance and a huge love for all aspects of theater and I believe she will bring that same love and confidence to her executive position,” Lowry said.
This is the first season Schultes has completely picked, and features tons of great classics and bold new plays, Lowry said.
“Stage West has always focused on constantly performing new works, but this is one of the most daring seasons,” Lowry said. “The Fort Worth area has had tons of exciting performances, but has never seen something as bold as Stage West is wanting to perform.”
Booty Candy, a satire written Robert O’Hara that focuses on growing up as an African- American homosexual male, is definitely one of the season’s boldest plays. The play closed on Sept. 11.
“Candy has a lot of sexual talk, profanity, focuses on black culture but is extremely funny for audience members,” Lowery said.
As a student, Schultes has always focused her time to learning every component of theatre, according to Dean of Freshman Success Joe Brown.
“If Dana didn’t get casted in a play, she would constantly ask what could she do to help with the performances,” Brown said. “One time, Dana pulled me aside to tell me about this great computer job she had and the amazing pay and she was bawling at the fact that she wasn’t happy. It’s never the money with her. Her main focus in her happiness in what she is doing in the theater arts.”
Schultes said she served as the cafe manager at Stage West’s Ol’ Vic Cafe and Galleries from 2007 to 2010, was a primary soup maker from 2007 to 2011, and wrote a cookbook called Soups!, which is offered at West’s box office.
“Soup is always so easy and interesting to make,” Schultes said. “You can basically throw a bunch of things together and it usually ends up pretty delicious. When we decided to open the cafe in 2007, I decided to take the role of primary soup maker and patrons would constantly ask for recipes.”
Schultes has had the opportunity to direct her favorite production — her daughter Matilda.
“Of everything Dana has ever done having Matilda will always be her greatest accomplishment,” Brown said.
Wesleyan continues to have an ongoing partnership with Stage West. Many students audition for roles and Theatre Department chain Bryan Stevenson is the lighting designer for the occasional production, according to Brown.
“As an alumni of Wesleyan, I’m extremely proud to see Stevenson, who I went to Martin High School, drive Theatre Wesleyan in an incredible direction,” Schultes said.
Recently, Schultes has begun to reach out to Wesleyan alumni, university President Frederick Slabach, and the marketing department to strengthen this ongoing partnership.
“Stage West has always had deep roots with Wesleyan and will continue to have this relationship,” Schultes said.