Bradley Akers is the associate director at Players by the Sea Theatre. A Jacksonville native and graduate of Douglas Anderson School of the Arts, Akers began his studies as an actor, but soon transitioned into stage management and then directing – where he found his true passion. If you were to ask Akers what he does for a living, he would tell you that he’s a storyteller, and that’s preciously what he has a knack for doing – taking a production and molding it into a story that will make sense to the audience. This year, Players by the Sea Theatre is celebrating their 50th season, having been founded in 1966. Akers joined the Theatre nearly four years ago. He is currently majoring in Arts Management through an online program at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. His plans after graduating include perusing a Master’s Degree in Directing with aspirations to one day be an artistic director.
How long have you worked at Players by the Sea?
It will be four years in May. I proposed a show, “Dog Sees God: Confessions of a Teenage Blockhead” to direct here and Joe Schwarz, our executive director, said that I could do it. We ended up winning the Pelican (our annual volunteer celebration and award show, basically like our own little Tony Awards) for the play which was really exciting. That led me into a job offer. I started as a teacher in the education program, and then they promoted me to communications manager when they saw I had a knack for writing and communicating and loved to do marketing. Then after about a year of that, they promoted me to associate director. I’m a young director too, so I really owe it to Players by the Sea for letting me do this kind of stuff because it’s let me find my voice as a director.
What do you enjoy about your job?
It doesn’t feel like a job; it feels like I’m just waking up and living my dream every day to work in a theatre, to direct people — to tell stories, really I think, is the biggest part. When people ask me what I do, I tell them that I’m a storyteller. I just like to tell stories that are my own, other people’s, I like to learn people’s stories — that’s what got me into this business. I love it; every day is different.
What’s your favorite genre to direct?
Dark comedy or dark drama. I like things that are humane — something about the human condition, the human experience, and I think that the dark stuff is actually a better representation than something that’s fluffy. I don’t limit myself. I like the fluff musical, I like the comedy, I like the farce — I like it all, but if you were to ask me, I would say I really like the darker things.
What has been your favorite production to direct so far?
“Almost, Maine.” I say that it’s the proudest I’ve ever been. But I can’t really look at a production that I’ve done and say “man, we missed the boat.” The one thing I learned when I started doing this is surround yourself with good people, and your job is done. So every project that I do, I surround myself with the best people possible, and it just happened that this one, it just kind of took flight. It was easy and it was challenging at the same time, which I think is rewarding.