Staff Profile: Tom Wojtunik, Artistic Director
"Adventurous theater in Astoria"

-- The New York Times

Staff Profile: Tom Wojtunik, Artistic Director

Tom Wojtunik

APAC's Artistic Director Tom Wojtunik

How did you arrive at APAC? What path brought you here?

I came to watch APAC’s production of PICASSO AT THE LAPIN AGILE as an IT Awards Judge. I had been living in Astoria for four years at that point, and had no idea APAC existed. I was annoyed to see the show was in a Boys Club and I’d be sitting on a folding chair. But the show was really good and the production values were high. I left that night thrilled that quality theater was happening in my neighborhood. I sent a letter to Taryn and Brian Swasey (the founding Artistic Director)–a year later they hired me to direct PROOF for the company. A year after that Brian stepped down to pursue other directing opportunities, and Taryn asked me to be Artistic Director!

What’s the one problem you are best at solving for APAC? What do you have a knack for?

I’m definitely the organizer on the APAC staff. I create our season calendar for the year, and obsessively organize all of our “stuff” at our venue–supplies, tools, costumes, props, etc. But I’m also really good at finding the right person for the right role. And I don’t just mean casting…but also staffing productions and people on the APAC staff. I’ll brag here and say it was my idea to hire Dave Charest as our Marketing Director, and that turned out okay. :)

What are you most passionate about professionally? What most excites you about your work & the contribution you can make?

I love collaborating. It’s my favorite thing about theater. To that end, I tend to like working with the same people–designers, actors, etc. Once I find someone that I click with, I like to keep them around. I think I’m a good arbiter of taste–when I’m directing I like to foster an environment where everyone feels like they can make suggestions and try things. And when people feel that freedom, they tend to work at the top of their game. Suddenly you have 20-30 people contributing their best ideas to a production, and I get to sit back and decide which are the ones we’ll keep.

Where can we find you when you’re not working? What’s your favorite way to spend a weekend or a Sunday afternoon?

I like being outside, especially in the summer–the park and the beach.

How long have you been doing what you do?

I’ve been doing theater since I was 10 years old. To some degree, I’ve always been directing–in high school I would take over and “direct” the school plays when I didn’t think a scene was working. Luckily, I always had teachers that supported that instinct in me. I moved to NYC to go to college as an actor, but quickly learned I was way better at directing. I’ve been directing steadily in New York since I graduated college.

Where did you grow up and why aren’t you there now?

I grew up in Meriden, CT (right in the center of the state). I knew I wanted to move to NYC in high school, and sort of never looked back. Growing up I couldn’t wait to get out of Meriden, but as I get older I love going back home to visit. I really, really enjoyed growing up there. I look back fondly at all of the schools I went to and the friends I had. I wouldn’t trade it for anything else.

Any awards or medals, or even medallions?

I’m very proud of APAC’s Outstanding Musical win at the IT Awards in 2010 for CHILDREN OF EDEN. My 2006 production of URINETOWN at The Gallery Players also won the award. I’ve directed three other musicals that have been nominated for it as well. That’s kinda cool!

What would be impossible for you to give up?

Right now? “Friday Night Lights”.

Why would someone not want to work with you?

I don’t respond well to laziness, especially when I can tell someone is capable of more. Admittedly, to a fault sometimes. I have like a chemical reaction to it, it bothers me so much.

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