Eric Davis continues to lead freeFall Theatre Company on a rapid ascent

St. Petersburg – Define the word freefall.

It’s certainly not winning multiple awards and strong audiences for 2014’s diverse line-up of shows, including Larry Kramer’s The Normal Heart and One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest and upcoming The Buffalo Kings.

Eric Davis is the founder and artistic director of freeFall Theatre in St. Petersburg, and while he’s quick to spread the praise, his remarkable spirit is providing the fuel to the company’s rapid ascent.

“I am inspired by great writing and stories that are thrilling and speak to a universal poetic sense about the human experience,” Davis says.

During the summer he starred in and directed The Normal Heart, a story he credits for taking gay theater from an underground movement to a wider audience that would see later hit projects like Angels in America.

“It’s a powerful story that chronicles a dark moment in American history,” he says. “But it also gives lots of hope in dark times that a hero will come and lead a way out of the darkness.”

For theatergoers in St. Pete—and the broader LGBT community—that hero could be Davis.

For audiences of freeFall Theatre Company, the group is set to deliver again when the 2015-16 season is revealed in March. The remainder of this season includes A Christmas Carol, comedy The Buffalo Kings, Jay McInerney’s Bright Lights, Big City, Harvey, The Tempest and Mame, everyone’s favorite madcap aunt.

“We always plan the season by looking for a wide variety of subjects,” Davis explains. “We always do a classical play, something brand new, and we always want to do a classical or newer musical. It leaves us with a very eclectic season. Those who come see everything go on a very wild journey.”

Part of that trip was Davis’ work in The Normal Heart.

“We live in a very different world than what takes place in that play,” he says of a story that coincides with events like Senator Jesse Helms calling for tattoos and internment camps for those suffering from AIDS.

While far-out, far-right Christian pastors may still openly call for extermination of LGBT people due to the “Word of God,” Davis says these forces don’t represent the mainstream anymore.

“It’s frightening such extremists exist, but they are not the majority,” he says. “With so many states having marriage equality now, it’s the promise of the dream that’s in The Normal Heart.”

In addition to his diverse range of talents inside the theater, Davis has an similarly encyclopedia range of interests outside.

“Most plays are not about the theater,” he says. “The gamut of shows we’ve done encompasses just about every subject. We can select from thousands and thousands of plays. We choose six.”

His staff and crew share a similar desire to be multi-faceted in their skill-sets.

“We create the illusion of a much bigger company by having such an amazing staff.”

In the past, Davis has even helped with costuming and stage design.
“And the great plays and artists who bring these stories alive always continue to inspire me,” he says.

Davis also gives credit to the great atmosphere for the arts in St. Pete.
“St. Pete has really knocked it out of the park in prioritizing the arts,” he’s said.

And Davis, no doubt, is an MVP.

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