Travis Ballenger is the Associate Artistic Director at The Old Globe! Having recently joined The Old Globe earlier this year, Travis brings a wealth of knowledge from previous roles producing shows across the country.
Can you tell us a bit about your role as associate artistic director for those who might not be familiar?
I am one of two associate artistic directors, along with Justin Waldman, at The Old Globe and so we split the season in half for each of us to produce. We also do this with all new play development activities which is where we bring in new plays to give them workshops and readings, and work with the artists. We also handle the care and nurturing of the many artists that travel from all over to San Diego to make sure they’re feeling welcomed and comfortable here. Scouting is also a major part of our jobs, so we see a ton of shows both locally and across the country and meet with artists to develop relationships with them on behalf of The Old Globe.
How has working at The Old Globe in Balboa Park differed from your past roles?
This is a really different space to create art in, part of it is that the campus of the Globe is unlike many theatre institutions you’ll go to. The places I’ve worked at before have usually been contained within one building so you don’t get that experience that you have with three different theatres, plus the Globe’s rehearsal halls in the basement of the Mingei Museum, plus all of the visitors and people that are here. What that gives you is a unique ability to have people around all the time, which brings a really beautiful energy that is conducive to creating art. Having an audience for a show is really important of course but it’s almost just as important to have people around who see the space as a place to visit. You want theatrical spaces to feel like places where people can congregate, you want them to feel naturally inviting. So to work at a theatre where everything about it makes you feel like you want to hang out is amazing.
What do you enjoy most about your job?
What I enjoy the most is the team that I get to work with. Barry is a phenomenal artist and thinker and he has such a vision for the theatre. Working with Justin Waldman, Danielle Mages Amato, and Lamar Perry to carry out that vision is something you don’t get everywhere. Someone once told me that we join theatre for the society of theatre. Not necessarily just the social life but also the conversation, rigor and scholarship of the people that are in it, and you get that here.
Are there any particular shows that you’re looking forward to?
I’m really excited about Noura because it’s just so good, it’s well-written and it’s truly so well-directed. I’m looking forward to the Dr. Seuss’s How the Grinch Stole Christmas this holiday season, it’s a staple of course, but I’m also looking forward to Ebenezer Scrooge’s BIG San Diego Christmas Show. It’s just whacky and if you met the director, Gordon Greenberg, you’d understand why.
What do you enjoy doing outside of work on your free time?
So I used to think I hated the beach, whenever traveling I would always choose cities instead of beach destinations. Since moving here I’ve learned that beaching is an art form and I love it! I’m also learning photography, which is really fun and challenging because even though theater is a visual art form too my background is specifically in performance art. I’ve been trying to explore more, this summer was so busy and I haven’t had too many free weekends so I’d love to see more of San Diego.
What are you reading, watching, or listening to on repeat right now?
Right now I’m reading Cheer Up, Mr. Widdicombe by Evan James, a writer I knew a long time ago, because I randomly saw his book at a bookstore. I’m also reading Ibram X. Kendi’s, How to Be an Antiracist, which is a really amazing book and he is one of my favorite writers. I’m always reading like three or four things at once (I read a lot) so I’m also re-reading the Autobiography of Red by poet Anne Carson.
I listen to a lot of music but I also listen to a lot of podcasts. I’ve been listening to this brand new podcast from New York Magazine, 1619, which is about slavery and is really fascinating. My favorite podcast is On the Media, I listen to all of the Crooked Media shows and I listen to The Read religiously.
What is your favorite spot in Balboa Park?
I really love the courtyard outside of the Casa del Prado building, it’s so pretty and it’s become my favorite little spot. I’m also obsessed with the Botanical Building because of how it looks and how beautiful and accessible it is, and then there’s the Inamori Pavilion at the Japanese Friendship Garden. You go there and you almost forget that you’re here, it’s stunning.
Learn more about upcoming shows from The Old Globe.
Supported by the San Diego Commission for Arts and Culture.