Stephen was born in Santa Monica, California, and moved to the Monterey Peninsula when he was 11. While living in Southern California, his mother was an actress in community theatre in the San Fernando Valley, and from a young age Stephen would go along with her and hang out backstage, being in some crowd scenes onstage, and eventually auditioning for and playing the part of Miles in THE INNOCENTS. The theatre company was called The Rafters Theatre Guild because it was upstairs in the rafters of a county courthouse.
After moving to the Monterey Peninsula, Stephen went to Carmel Middle and High Schools where he met Dan Gotch, who was teaching a summer school program in theatre arts at the high school, and who would eventually became a mainstay of GroveMont/PRT. At Carmel High Stephen was heavily involved in the drama program - acting in productions, doing tech (mostly lighting designs) and producing some holiday musical reviews. The highlight of his senior year was playing a criminal mastermind in WAIT UNTIL DARK. The school took the play to a major state-wide high school theatre competition in Sacramento, and it won for both the production and the leading roles. In addition, from the age of 11 to 17 Stephen went to Carmel's Children's Experimental Theatre and credits CET and its director, Marcia Hovick, as a major influence in those early years. Upon graduating high school (1979) he did a 3-show repertory season at Hartnell Summer Theatre (before it was called the Western Stage) followed by a 16-week Summer Intensive at A.C.T. in San Francisco where they worked "nonstop" as Moorer says "...doing improvisation, maskwork and dance in the morning, Feldenkrais and yoga in the afternoon, and rehearsing scenes all night." As a result he was introduced to a number of disciplines and varying styles of both training and performance.
On returning to the Monterey Peninsula, Stephen returned to CET for 18 months on a special grant as a theatre apprentice. He also attended MPC under Morgan Stock, and began to dabble in producing. His first attempt was the Central Coast premiere of William Mastrosimone's THE WOOLGATHERER - a two character drama directed by Nick Hovick. It was presented at Carmel's Cherry Hall where Dan Gotch was Program Director. Based on the success of this initial production, Stephen approached Dan with the idea of a "New Play Series."
With Dan acting as Executive Producer on behalf of the Cherry Foundation, Stephen became the series' Production Manager - budgeting, finding directors and actors, marketing and running the box-office. Stephen and Dan also initiated the first renovation of "Cherry Hall" into a real theatre (it had been primarily an art gallery with a minimal platform used for occasional performances). This included extending the stage, adding lighting positions and putting in Cherry Hall's first control booth. The series was very successful and provided an important first experience in Stephen's development as a producer and artistic director.
By this time, Stephen had worked with almost every theatre company on the Peninsula and knew that there was a large amount of talent to draw from. His plan was to present plays that the other theatre companies on the Peninsula were, for the most part, ignoring - new plays, Shake-speare, many classics, etc. (Marcia Hovick was doing the classics with Staff Players, but the Indoor Forest Theatre had too small a stage to present many productions, including most Shake-speare.) Stephen's stated goal, which met with a lot of gentle smiles and polite nods, was to start a theatre company that would eventually become a professional regional theatre company. His first step was, with two friends, Linda Smith and Guy Clark, to buy the book "How To Start Your Own Non-profit Out of Incorporation." They typed up 75 pages of incorporation papers and recruited their first board of directors which included, as President, the Drama Department Chairman at MPC, Morgan Stock. They received non-profit status in 1983 and performed their first production, SCAPINO, at the Pacific Grove Middle School auditorium. Sid Cato was the director. Stephen comments, "The response was fabulous; we had big crowds, 200 to 300 people a night, with no budget and not a lot of advertising. So we went about the operation of a full-fledged theatre...with absolutely no money."
The early years saw tremendous growth, but Stephen didn't take a paycheck for the first six years. To exist financially he obtained the local distributorship of the USA Today newspaper racks, then added the San Francisco Chronicle and eventually the Monterey Peninsula Herald. These were early morning jobs and (with little sleep) left Stephen the day and nighttime to produce theatre (in 1988, Barbara Kibbe, a consultant funded through the Packard Foundation, recommended that if GroveMont was to be successful as a real non-profit company, it was time that Stephen go on salary).
After SCAPINO, GroveMont started producing three or four shows a year in various venues around the community - including school auditoriums, the YMCA building by Lake El Estero, and Cherry Hall. At this same time, Stephen started developing the idea for an outdoor theatre festival. He explains, "Probably the biggest influence was the CET Spring Festival because it was held on Saturdays and Sundays, it was free, and they had all these short 45 minute to an hour shows - little pocket classics, fairytales. TheatreFest was really the same thing, just outside. The idea for the Human Chess Game came out of my love for stage combat which also developed at CET. I'd traveled around England and Europe, and they do traditional pageantry in the guise of human chess games. I wanted to mix the grandness of the pageantry with the excitement of combat. It's developed into a kind of cult classic here on the Monterey Peninsula - which continually has us all amazed..."
While developing GroveMont, among his many side jobs, Stephen worked for Cal Rep in Monterey - running their concessions and working in their marketing department. John Rousseau was working as a master carpenter at Cal Rep, and Stephen asked him to build the sets for the first TheatreFest. Stephen explains, "John was my first master carpenter, and he could also do lighting and sound, so we eventually developed his job as Technical Director. Really, he was my first full-time employee. John was my first hands-on, full-time partner." This was 1984, the 2nd year of GroveMont and the year Stephen created both TheatreFest and obtained a production slot at the Outdoor Forest Theater. The Carmel Cultural Commission had sent a letter to the GroveMont Board congratulating the company on their work at various venues in Carmel. Stephen met with Richard Tyler, the Cultural Director for Carmel, and was offered the September slot at the Outdoor Forest Theater, which was not being used at the time. GroveMont's first production there was MEDEA, the Robinson Jeffers' version, directed by Nick Zanides and starring Rosamond Goodrich Zanides.
In 1985 Stephen added the Memory Garden to Theatrefest's venues with a production of ROMEO AND JULIET, directed by Roz Zanides. Plays at the Outdoor Forest Theater continued with the first of the Robin Hood plays - written and directed by Dan Gotch. About this time, Stephen began encouraging the GroveMont Board to find a permanent home - to provide a non-nomadic existence with office, rehearsal and performance space. In 1986 Stephen achieved this goal when he negotiated a long-term lease on a building at 320 Hoffman Street in New Monterey. He named it the GroveMont Theatre Arts Center and opened CRIMES OF THE HEART and DUET FOR ONE in repertory in their own 43-seat theatre. The following year they remodeled it into a 93 seat theatre for David Mamet's OLEANNA, a co-production with Monterey Peninsula College. In 1988 Stephen added a third stage to TheatreFest with the addition of a 300-seat tent for summer musicals. Co-conceived by Kelly Alexander, and directed by Sid Cato, the first production in the tent was THE PIRATES OF PENZANCE. Kelly would later start the Monterey Opera Association under GroveMont's auspices, with Stephen serving as the new Board's First Vice-President.
In 1990, while in England on a theatre trip, Stephen encountered a wealth of new research on the Shake-speare authorship problem - research that led him to rename the productions at the Outdoor Forest Theater the Carmel Shake-speare Festival and include the authorship issue in future festival programming. "People smiled then too," he laughs, "but now the authorship issue is one of the hottest educational and scholarly controversies in the world."
In that same year, the Board suggested the company find a permanent venue to purchase. What they found was the Old Monterey Music Hall on Washington Street in downtown Monterey which they renamed "The Old Monterey Playhouse." With a year-round 120-seat theatre, they decided to stop using the tent for summer musicals. Unfortunately, after three years of a "lease/option to buy" at the Playhouse, they found the purchase of the building progressively less desireable. In the summer of 1993, practically the moment they gave notice at the Playhouse, the "For Sale" sign went up at the Golden Bough Playhouse in Carmel. Stephen negotiated an option on the property, launched a fund-raising campaign, and within four months he, Dan Gotch, and the Board had raised half the purchase price and secured the building.
In 1994, to reflect it's growing status and goals, the company changed it's name from GroveMont to Pacific Repertory Theatre. In March of 1995, the renovated Golden Bough re-opened with repertory productions of DEATH OF A SALESMAN and LA BETE, both directed by Stephen. During six successful seasons at the Golden Bough, he has directed a number of the company's most noted productions including AMADEUS, HENRY IV - PART 1, SYLVIA and WEST SIDE STORY. In December of 2000 Stephen achieved his most sought after goal - seeing the mortgage of the Golden Bough paid in full. Pacific Rep now owned it's own theatre.
The final production at the GroveMont Theatre Arts Center was EQUUS. Sadly, they no longer needed that space. Now with the Golden Bough they would have the Circle Theatre for smaller productions. They had been mounting dual seasons for three years - at the Theatre Arts Center, at TheatreFest and the Old Monterey Playhouse - producing four to six productions at each location. There were certain years when they did as many as twenty-seven productions between five venues. "In those early years we needed to over-produce in order to survive," Stephen commented, adding "...the income streams came from everything from arts and crafts fairs (which continue to this day) to box office and concessions at multiple locations to role-playing contracts with a number of groups and business including the Monterey Parks and Recreation Department."
So much of Stephen's life has been intertwined with the evolution of GroveMont/Pacific Repertory Theatre. But to tell about Stephen is to also relate his work as a director and an actor for the company. As Artistic Director his responsibilities presently include everything behind the curtain - picking the shows to be produced and overseeing their key staff - directors, designers, leading actors, etc.; the majority of the casting; determining the calender and master schedule; and troubleshooting in all departments, especially marketing and development.
As a producer of the season he assists the new Managing Director on a number of administrative matters. Last year, PRT created the position of Managing Director and hired New York producer/director Geoffrey Shlaes. Up to that time Stephen was the Executive Artistic Director which in effect combines the position of Artistic Director and Managing Director. With all these responsibilities Stephen still found time to direct a number of plays over the years. These include: A MIDSUMMER NIGHT'S DREAM (3 times), HENRY IV - Parts 1 and 2 (2 times), SISTER MARY IGNACIUS EXPLAINS IT ALL FOR YOU (2 times), JULIUS CAESAR (2 times), TOM FOOLERY (3 times - the first musical he directed - and really loved, being a long-time fan of Tom Lehrer), DADDY'S DYING, WHO'S GOT THE WILL?, NUNSENSE (2 times), PASSION, OTHELLO, ROMEO AND JULIET, ACCOMPLICE, LEND ME A TENOR, THE PLANTAGENTS, DEATH OF A SALESMAN, LA BETE, THE MADNESS OF GEORGE III, THE MERCHANT OF VENICE, AMADEUS, PERICLES, SYLVIA, CYRANO, ANTONY AND CLEOPATRA, KING LEAR, PICASSO AT THE LAPIN AGILE, WEST SIDE STORY, EDWARD III, THOMAS OF WOODSTOCK, and RICHARD II.
Stephen also found time to act in a number of GroveMont/PRT productions. His roles included Leandro in SCAPINO, the man in THE WOODS, Levinsky in NUTS, Zorro in THE LEGEND OF ZORRO, Robin Hood in THE KING RETURNS, the reporter in HOW I GOT THE STORY, Sylvestro in SCAPINO, the Elephant Man in THE ELEPHANT MAN, Williamson in GLENGARRY GLEN ROSS, Valmont in LES LIAISONS DANGEREUSE, Barry Champlain in TALK RADIO, the King of Bohemia in KING JOHN, Pontius Pilot in JESUS CHRIST SUPERSTAR, the male lead in PRELUDE TO A KISS, the First Witch in MACBETH, HAMLET, CORIOLANUS, SHIMMER (a one-man show), Brick in CAT ON A HOT TIN ROOF, Uncle Peck in HOW I LEARNED TO DRIVE, VOLPONE, and Oberon in A MIDSUMMER NIGHT'S DREAM.
Over the years he was also in a number of Human Chess Games and as he explains "lots of side gigs, mostly role playing for the State Park Rangers as part of their training program. They stopped letting me do it when I started getting too good at escaping....smuggling in guns, shooting down rangers or .... stealing their cars. I got to be pretty notorious; they finally said...um...we can't let you do this any more - it's not fair to the cadets!"