Back on the Bank: A Not-So-Close Interview with Theater Teacher and Director, Seth Decker

Katie O'Mara

He recounted the time he had to cover himself in mud while portraying the character Buddy Lamon. 

Upon entering the blackbox, adjacent to the Hendrix-Chenault Theatre, one might imagine seeing students flawlessly reciting Shakespeare, or performing a scene so realistically that they might as well be the characters they are portraying. But in my case I opened the door to find an animated Mr. Decker orchestrating a game while surrounded by his laughing Theatre I students. 

Mr. Decker has been working at Lovett for 15 years but theatre has always been a part of his life. He began acting at age 8 and continued to act at Lovett from 10th to 12th grade. He then attended a conservatory, earning his BFA in acting. In 2003 he opened his own acting company, the Red Door Playhouse, which operated for 17 years. 

While Mr. Decker enjoys directing and teaching, he is primarily an actor. In his own career his favorite role was Mozart in the play Amadeus, a reimagining of the lives of famous classical musicians Antonio Salieri and Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart performed here at Lovett. Next I asked him about his craziest costume; after thinking for a second and letting out a chuckle with an air of embarrassment and nostalgia, he recounted the time he had to cover himself in mud while portraying character Buddy Lamon. 

Regardless of his role in the production Mr. Decker loves the energy on opening nights, which he described as “electric.” Part of that comes from the nerves the cast and crew feel. But “fear drives you to greatness,” he says. 

After a year and a half of cancelled or modified performances, Mr. Decker is optimistic about the upcoming productions. Preparations for the Fall play are well underway. While they will be back in the Hendrix-Chenault Theatre, some things will still be impacted by Covid-19. Mr. Decker is continuing to be cautious during scenes, especially romantic ones. “We can’t get too close,” he jokingly says. 

With auditions happening this week I was curious about Mr. Decker’s casting process. He explained that he has students do a cold read of a scene and lets them make character choices before telling them one thing to change in order to test their ability to follow direction. In addition to this he asks the person questions about themselves to ensure they are the right choice for the role. 

Theatre is a program enjoyed by students, faculty, and parents alike, and though it has endured massive obstacles in the past years, we know now that it’s not going anywhere (as long as we don’t get too close). 

The Lovett School is an independent, coeducational day school where children from Kindergarten through Grade 12 find the courage to explore and the drive to discover.

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