by Len Lear
David Bradley, 52, who lives in Mt. Airy with sons Jacob, 19, and Noah, 17, and wife Margaret, just may be the Philadelphia area’s most in-demand, prolific and highly respected theatrical director. Bradley most recently remounted “A Fierce Kind of Love” with Temple’s Institute on Disabilities at FringeArts, and he has taught at local universities.
His more than 30 productions as a long-time company member at People’s Light include “The Diary of Anne Frank,” “Cinderella,” “Of Mice and Men,” “The Crucible” and “Doubt.” He’s directed frequently at Act II in Ambler and the National Constitution Center, and Bradley is Founding Director of the music nonprofit LiveConnections, and he was a producer on their three albums with city schools.
A native of Wynnewood, Bradley graduated from Episcopal Academy and Yale University (1988, English major) and has lived in Mt. Airy for 20 years.
“I love being close to the Wissahickon and getting to run Forbidden Drive often,” he told us last week. “I love the community feel of Mt. Airy … I’ve been fortunate to make my career in the arts. I always loved making up stories. In high school, when I first started doing plays, I loved the group aspect. I didn’t play team sports; the casts of plays were my teams. I’ve continued to really love how theater can be a meeting place, a place of exchange, a place that activates empathy and understanding as we encounter a story and characters.”
Bradley is currently directing “The God Project,” running now at Plays and Players, the historic theater at 1714 Delancey Place, until May 19. “I don’t want to give too much away,” Bradley told us, “but it’s a comedy that centers around Sheila and Drew, a kind of odd couple each in a crisis in their lives, who find themselves working the night shift at a big store featuring Swedish-named furniture.
“Religion has played a significant role in their growing up, but they’ve got different attitudes about it now, which drive them in different ways. And then there’s their manager Val … who is full of surprises.There are songs. And lots of boxes…”
“The God Project,” produced by 1812 Productions, was written and is performed by Sean Close and Jennifer Childs. It features Germantown stalwart Joilet Harris with original music by Christopher Colucci.
“Before there were even these characters or this story,” explained Bradley, “and we were just getting together to jam on the idea of a play that involved God, we called it ‘The God Project.’ But as the characters and story developed, I think the idea of characters working in a big furniture store and putting things together and assembly being required— the idea of projects — lined up with the idea of finding/assembling a concept of God, which for sure can be an ongoing project … It is threaded through with my spiritual curiosity and ongoing attraction to thinking about big mysteries…”
Among his countless other projects, Bradley wrote and directed “Voices of Voting” for the Committee of Seventy and has facilitated and led projects for the “Theater of War” around the country and in the Middle East.
“Theater of War” is a social impact company that uses readings of plays (often Greek tragedies) as catalysts for dialogue around mental health, suicide prevention and recovery from addiction. They often present events in military communities, from National Guard training centers to military bases.
“I’ve been fortunate enough to be a facilitator (and sometime actor) with them since 2011,” Bradley said. “In 2013, I traveled with them to military bases in Kuwait and Qatar, facilitating conversations around addiction … It’s always an honor to be part of this work and these conversations. They highlight how theater can inspire insight, reflection and empathy.”
Who are Bradley’s own favorite playwrights?
“I love August Wilson, Tony Kushner, Sarah Ruhl, James Ijames, Bess Wohl, Arthur Miller, Kathryn Petersen, James Still and Suli Holum.”
Which talent that Bradley does not have would he most like to have?
“I wish I were a good singer. I love music. I’d love to be able to hit the notes!”
If Bradley could meet and spend time with anyone on earth, living or dead, who would it be?
“Well, it’s now the time of year for the Penn Relays, and that has me thinking of my dad, who died 19 years ago. He loved the Penn Relays. He ran them in high school and college and for 40-plus years was chief finish judge. My son Noah ran the Penn Relays for the first time this year. Dad never knew my sons. I’d love to get together with him and them and enjoy all that would ensue.”
For more information about “The God Project,” call 215-592-9560 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. Len Lear can be reached at email@example.com