Man About Town: Clifton Guterman
Theatrical Outfit principal rocks an Atlanta stage resume all the way to an LGBT-inclusive fall season.
By Mike Fleming
Gay Atlanta theater buffs of any tenure already know the name Clifton Guterman. The Georgia-born actor and associate artistic director has seen steady work on stage and off with companies from New York City to Atlanta’s own Actor’s Express, Alliance Theatre, and now Theatrical Outfit.
After memorable roles in all those places, it’s the latter company, which has had the privilege of his know-how since 2012, that brought him to our attention yet again as the theater gears up for its fall season. Always gay-inclusive in its staffing and its productions, Theatrical Outfit redoubled its efforts to present LGBT fare as part of its 2017-2018 roster of shows.
As Associate Artistic Director, Guterman is integral to the process. With both Anna Ziegler’s Boy and Topher Payne’s Perfect Arrangement in the lineup, the 41-year-old Ormewood Park resident took some time to tell us a little about the theater, as well as a few tidbits about his personal version of living out and proud in the ATL.
Tell us a little about yourself.
I’ve lived in Atlanta off and on since 1994, and I’m from teeny-tiny Iron City, Georgia, population 350 (or so). I’m married to my best friend, Chad, since 2013, and we’ve been together since 2008.
Give us a brief rundown of the resume that got you to Theatrical Outfit.
I obtained a B.A. in Drama from UGA and an M.F.A. in Performing Arts from SCAD. I’ve lived in New York, traveled the country doing regional theatre, and have worked on the artistic staffs of Actor’s Express, the Alliance Theatre and now Theatrical Outfit. I’ve always had an administrative job in the arts alongside acting work, luckily.
Tell us about your role at Theatrical Outfit.
As Associate Artistic Director, I manage our casting and work very closely with our Artistic Director, Tom Key, on season planning, literary management and community engagement. I also contribute to the marketing efforts for our programming.
What’s on tap for the fall season?
Our Season of Character is thrilling, with all shows featuring protagonists who might be labeled “other” in some way. Two plays will speak directly to the LGBTQ community and put “us” front and center. Boy, this fall, is based on a true case about a child born a boy but raised a girl after an accident, and the complexities around gender identity in adulthood that unfold. It’s tender, humorous and oh-so-timely. I’ll play the lead, and I cannot wait to share it with Atlanta.
In late winter, we’ll present beloved local playwright Topher Payne’s Arrangement, a Mad Men-era comedy about four neighbors, a gay couple and lesbian couple, who pass as each other’s spouses under the chilling glare of the Lavender Scare of 1950s Washington politics. Expect high style, gorgeous decor and costumes and cocktail party quips. And a big dose of poignant realism too!
What is it about Theatrical Outfit that makes it so special.
Entering our 41st season, we’re Atlanta’s second oldest professional theatre company. We’re nestled in the heart of downtown in the old Herren’s restaurant building – the first Atlanta restaurant to voluntarily de-segregate in 1962. Inclusion is literally in our facility’s bones.
Our contemporary bowl shaped theater is 200 seats and cozy. Our production values are top notch, and we attract and hire Atlanta’s top actors, directors and designers. We aspire to create a compassionate, joyful and just community by producing world-class theatre that starts the conversations that matter. We produce soul-stirring art that entertains and not simply entertainment.
What other affiliations do you have outside Theatrical Outfit?
I’m an Associate Artist with Actor’s Express, serve on our local Actors’ Equity Association liaison committee, am an adjudicator for the Georgia High School Musical Theatre Awards, and a Rainbros Peer Coach (and helped found its Gays for Plays). In addition to stage work, I’m also a film, TV and commercial actor represented by Atlanta’s Houghton Talent.
What do you do for fun?
Atlanta neighborhoods now have so many exciting restaurant choices. It’s hard to keep up! My husband and I love to dine casually at bars or chef’s counters because we met at one in NYC. We enjoy walking our Miniature Schnauzers, Baxter and Boris, to our very chill neighborhood dog park, and when we’re able, we escape the city and de-stress in quaint and gay-friendly Blue Ridge, Georgia.
If you were to die tomorrow, what would your legacy be?
I strive daily to make Atlanta theatre welcoming, compassionate, inclusive and celebratory. The performing arts can be so competitive, and in other cities that can breed anxiety, bitterness and, ultimately, jaded artists. It’s a business, but it’s made up of creative and brilliant souls. People first is my motto.
What else? Anything you want Gay Atlanta to know?
Atlanta’s arts scene is growing rapidly and deepening yearly. In this divisive political climate with threats to cut arts funding, non-profits need your support more than ever. Atlanta theatres need your beautiful butts in our seats. Subscribe to our full seasons. Serve on our boards. Donate to institutions whose work moves you. We come together and connect over universal truths, no matter our race, gender, sexuality, citizenship status or place of origin. And boy, do we need that unity now more than ever.
Theatrical Outfit is at 84 Luckie St NW. Visit theatricaloutfit.org.