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Columbus Makes Art Presents David Bahgat on Directing the Next Generation

Rachel Flenner Rachel Flenner Columbus Makes Art Presents David Bahgat on Directing the Next GenerationDavid Bahgat, director of Peter Pan. Photo courtesy Columbus Children's Theatre.
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David Bahgat has been interacting with Columbus Children’s Theatre in some capacity since 1996. With a BFA in musical theatre from Otterbein and an MFA in performing arts from Savannah College of Art & Design, David is also the Director of Theatre Performance at Fort Hayes Career Center. Currently he is directing CCT’s upcoming production of Peter Pan. David shared with us about his directing style, how he got started and his upcoming projects.

Rachel: How did you get started directing?
David: I had directed a few productions at Upper Arlington High School but it wasn’t until Bill Goldsmith, Artistic Director at CCT, called me in 2014 and asked me to direct Hairspray at CCT. That’s really what started my career in directing and it took off from there.

Rachel: Where do you draw inspiration from in directing?
David: I look for interesting current events that directly correlate with the material in the script. For example, when I was directing West Side Story it happened right after the horrific events at Pulse Night Club. I was inspired to really tell the audience the message of West Side Story.

David Bahgat, in a rehearsal. Photo courtesy Columbus Children's Theatre.
David Bahgat, in a rehearsal. Photo courtesy Columbus Children’s Theatre.

Rachel: Describe your directing style.
David: It has definitely evolved over the years. I started off very precise with my pre blocking. I knew exactly how I wanted the picture onstage to look. But over time it has morphed into a more collaborative process with the actors. If something isn’t working, let’s figure it out. I’m also a firm believer that all the answers are in the text.

Rachel: What is your history with CCT?
David: Well, my first production with CCT was in 1996. I played the Munchkin coroner in The Wizard of Oz. Back then, CCT was known as CJT.  From there I think I did over 20 productions until I moved to NYC in 2008 after college. CCT has been a second home for me and it still is today.

Rachel: What has been like working on Peter Pan?
David: I’m really enjoying getting inside the mind of a child. The cast is fantastic and so much fun to play with every night. The designers are excellent and have brought such great ideas to the table. It is really going to be a fresh and fun presentation of the classic show.

Rachel: How have you seen the art scene in Columbus grow?
David: It’s grown so much since I left in 2008 and returned in 2014. Short North Stage is a new company that is thriving, CATCO changed artistic paths, CCT has grown incredibly. I can’t wait to see what another 10 years brings us.

Rachel: What is your next project?
David: I’m directing Mamma Mia, opening February 2020 at the Palace Theatre, for Butterfly Guild (formerly Pleasure Guild) of Nationwide Children’s Hospital.

Peter Pan runs May 17-19 at the Southern Theatre. It is the final show in Columbus Children’s Theatre’s 2018/2019 Mainstage Season. Tickets start at $19, and are available online via ColumbusChildrensTheatre.org or by calling 614-224-6672.

Columbus Makes Art Presents is a bi-weekly column brought to you by the Greater Columbus Arts Council – supporting art and advancing culture in Columbus. The column is a project of the Art Makes Columbus campaign, telling the inspiring stories of the people and organizations who create Columbus art and sharing information about exhibitions, performances, concerts and more at ColumbusMakesArt.com. Each column will be written by a different local arts organization to give you an insiders look at how #artmakescbus.

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