We had the good fortune of connecting with Craig Bond and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Craig, can you tell us more about your background and the role it’s played in shaping who you are today?
I am from New York State- raised in Schuyler County, which is part of the Finger Lakes Region. Schuyler County is the least wealthy county within New York State and many of the local families live in hamlets and struggle to find work – beyond healthcare and prison employment. I was born in 1970 and am the last of eleven children from the same parents. My parents had their own grape farm that was destroyed in the flood of 1972. I recall that our family was always struggling financially. What is interesting about being born in 1970, is that most of my siblings were much closer in age and my oldest 6 siblings were born within an eight year span. My oldest sibling is 22 years older than I am, which means that the youngest children in our family did not know the oldest children as they had begun to move out of the home or were married starting their own families. Being raised in as a family close to poverty level during the 1970’s gave me a different perspective or live experiences that have lead me to love theatre and storytelling. I often remember listening to music that my older siblings loved and hearing stories from them about how they grew up. The siblings that were closest in age to me – loved the rock-n-roll era, vs. my older siblings loved songs from the 50’s and 60’s. There was one main school that was within the county – which was Watkins Glen Elementary, Middle and High School. I attended the school and graduated from there in 1988. What was interesting about the school is that a neighboring county had a professional arts complex – the Samuel L. Clemens Center. Having come from a poorer county, the organization would often give field trip opportunities to adjacent counties and young children to attend their events. I believe I attended my first production at about age 8 and the show was George M Cohen. What I remember about the field trip is that during the show, there was a moment that the show used special effects with black light! Black light allows any costumes to glow and to have the most vibrant colors as a way to “pop” the visual aspect of the production. I remember being mesmerized by the effect and having chills as I watched this number. From then on, I had an appreciation for theater and live performance. When I was in 7th grade I watched a production of “The Wizard of Oz” from my classmates and the flourish of wanting to watch and partake in theater came back to me from my early field trips. This started my desire to want to work in theater as part of my English assignments and be part of the musicals and drama department overall. When I went to college at Elmira College – a liberal arts education – I attended a production in my first term as a freshman – and the old stirrings came back to me. I joined a traveling company as Stage Manager named Vintage Theatre. The group travelled around to restaurants and county clubs and would present a production for one or two performances. I also decided to minor in theatre and added course loads to reach 21 credit hours – all while continuing to work on my Bachelor’s Degree. During those four years of intense study, I worked on over 60 productions. From that moment on I auditioned or was involved in all aspects of theater production, I shifted my work study program to be aligned with theatre, and I increased my class load to include acting, directing and stage design. I won two scholarships to support my journey – the Hal Roach Award and the Charles Pease award. Both helped me further my belief in my talents. With each step I took, I grew in confidence and success. I couldn’t get enough of this medium that filled up my soul and rejuvenated me daily. I joined Elmira Little Theatre outside of part-time jobs and eventually found my way to be employed at the Clemens Center as a stage hand and then ticketing professional. Each step gave me new insight into how to effectively launch programs, proper direction of a play, how to stay within budget with plays and musicals, and most importantly how to give back to school age children. I directed a musical Big River that had several matinees and opened up possibilities for other children to experience the medium that I had grown to love. In 1996 I moved from the Upstate New York area to Denver, Colorado. The move was a very big one for me, as I didn’t know anyone within Colorado. I had been hired by Central City Opera to run their ticketing program for four years, before I moved to The Arvada Center for the Arts and Humanities – continuing to advance my knowledge of production and business applications to support the arts. It was about 2000 that I decided that I wanted to form my own company and by homage to those that had helped to shape me as an artist. I named the new company Vintage Theatre Productions. Vintage Theatre has grown tremendously over the past 20 years – and we reached a high point in 2019 with over 21,000 visitors to our home in Original Aurora. The company has produced over 145 shows during their history and strives to give back to the community to inspire other generations of artists and theater lovers.
Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
I love directing theatre for me personally as an artist. The connection of understanding the theme of a piece and being able to creatively look at how you will present the show to an audience visually is really lovely for me. I also enjoy helping to produced work that inspires audiences and artists to feel moved by a performance or piece. My professional journey has been a consistent love of theatre while advancing my understanding of the business side of the arts. I love to write grants and tell our story to foundations to gain support. I also enjoy helping novice organizations to move ahead their missions and programs. Vintage Theatre started with audiences of six to ten people at our events and at our height in 2019, we had been performing to over 1,000 for each production title we produce. The growth has been intense and that can cause many issues as you expand programming. There are many lessons to learn but one of the most cherished ones that I cling to is to breathe through the tough times. Our logo has been a martini glass – as the original founders of the company shared martinis as we decided to form the company and with our opening night celebrations. The brand of Vintage Theatre is to have “serious fun” with the productions that we offer and the work that we produce.
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
I think the beauty of Colorado is our lovely mountains. If my best friend was visiting I think a trip through the mountains and perhaps a hike through a forest would be a must see for them. I would probably take them on a picnic adventure through the mountains and end up at a small mountain town for lunch and a cocktail. Another place that is amazing to walk through in the downtown area with the walking paths and new bridges across the Colorado River. The quiet beauty of hearing the streams and the beautiful sunshine is something that lights your inner strength and can be great for visitors to Colorado to enjoy. Devil’s Thumb Ranch is an amazing adventure resort and anyone that stays at this chic-rustic destination is sure to leave feeling calmer and smiling inside – from the experience.
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
I would like to dedicate my success to Marilyn Filippetti. Marilyn was an Elmira College graduate and an English teacher at Watkins Glen High School. She was an amazing dancer, actress, and director that inspired me on my journey. Marilyn passed away this last year, but the impact of her love of story telling can still be felt today through the hundreds of children that she has taught and inspired.
Rachel Graham photography