TDO STAFF PROFILE: Stew Awalt - Karyanis Rehearsal Production Center Facility Manager
By Jonathan Morales
One key to a successful season with the Dallas Opera is the quality and maintenance of the Karyanis Rehearsal Production Center. Here, singers spend several weeks rehearsing stage directions, building dramatic personas, and perfecting tricky vocal passages. The KRPC becomes the performers' home away from home preceding a short ten days of rehearsal in the actual performance space before opening night. To ensure a productive and safe rehearsal process, Stew Awalt, the building's Facility Manager, works tirelessly to maintain an environment that allows performers to rehearse at their best. This guarantees that the time spent perfecting the show on the performance stage is efficient and substantial.
"Like most young people, I was not hugely tuned into opera. My interest piqued, however, when I saw The Dallas Opera's Turandot in 1998..." After receiving his degree in Theater Design from Baylor in 2005, Stew pursued his interest and joined The Dallas Opera a year later as the assistant to Technical Director, Drew Field. Today, Stew is no longer a stranger to the inner workings of professional operatic theater. In addition to maintaining the general repair status of the KRPC, Stew now procures the rental space for each production's sets, props, and costumes. Transporting these key components from the warehouse to the performance space is vital to a successful production, which means "running crew calls to lead sets, props and costumes on to and off of trucks and in and out of the two warehouses that we have on site." As the proverbial Alpha and the Omega of each show, Stew oversees the safe transportation of every component that is seen onstage. When the season has ended, Stew manages the rental of the KRPC to local arts groups as well as private events. He ends the summer with a thorough repainting of the interior, cleaning of the air ducts, and general sprucing up in order to receive the following seasons' artists and musicians. The year-long care for the KRPC is always on forefront of Stew's mind, and with the opening of the Winspear Opera House right around the corner, he's looking forward to tackling its challenges head-on.
Aside from his responsibilities with The Dallas Opera, Stew helps promote independent theater in Dallas as a business manager and stage manager for Second Thought Theater in Addison. Stew stays active as an avid participant in rock climbing, bowling, and disc golf. He is passionate about the environment and is working to increase recycling efforts at the KRPC.
Stew has come a long way since joining The Dallas Opera in 2006 and he is excited to be a strong part of this year's grand opening. "The independent theater guy in me is really excited to see new works being commissioned because so many people think of opera as a dead art form. The ability not just to have something that is good but to decide on and develop new and amazing work is exhilarating, even if my contribution is only to open up the warehouse so that Dallas Stage can load in a set mock-up of Moby-Dick in the rehearsal room."