Lights, camera, Newberg: Stark director prepares production of ‘Almost, Maine’

Courtesy of Kent State Stark Theatre program.

Courtesy of Kent State Stark Theatre program.

Katie Rush

Brian Newberg of Kent State Stark is not the typical bossy or demanding theater director. 

He began his position at Kent Stark in 2010 and has continued to use his talents as a director and educator to inspire students and community members involved in the theatre program.

Newberg has improved the lives of Stark students from many different majors, fostering a theater environment that inspires community, appreciation and unity.

Newberg and the theater department at Kent Stark have been channeling their talents to perform in the production written by John Cariani “Almost, Maine.” The production opened Friday, Nov. 13.

With “Almost, Maine” showing on both Nov. 20 and 21, it is a testament to how things in life usually do not end up the way people plan them, especially for Newberg’s story.

From poli-sci to theater

Beginning his collegiate career in 1969 at Temple University in Philadelphia, Newberg was a political science major at a time when America was fully immersed in the Vietnam War. He was attracted to anti-war politics, an attraction that has carried over to an interest in progressive politics to this day.

After his young arthritis affected his ability to continue school, he took time off to recuperate, returning to a community college shortly after. With his interest in politics never waning, Newberg began developing an interest in film and worked with a life-changing film instructor at his community college.

To take the directing course at this college, he was required to enroll in a basic acting course beforehand, an interest or talent he had never considered.

“I had been exposed to theater when I was young, but I never knew it was for me,” he said.

Following his courses at community college, Newberg went to New York with a group of actors to pursue his talents, saying it was “pure magic.”

New York led to decades-long career in California where Newberg spent the majority of his time in the San Francisco Bay area, and a few years in Los Angeles. Here, he completed his masters of fine arts degree at the University of California, Irvine.

Students and colleagues

Breanna Morton, a sophomore majoring in theatre studies, said her time with Newberg has been a positive experience. She speaks of his great experience and how he creates an organized and open environment in the theater department.

“I have learned so much more from Brian in just barely two semesters than I had with my directors in the previous seven years,” Morton said. “I learn so much from him each day, and I love coming to class to be taught by him. He truly loves what he does and students and people he works with.”

Ron Jarvis, Newberg’s colleague and a theater professor, realized as a director, Newberg was willing and advocating for an environment where students could find their talents. He’s worked with Jarvis’ talents for years to incorporate his skills more into the productions.

“He has really helped me get the things I need to teach to my best ability,” Jarvis said. “I had tried with Brian’s predecessors to get this done and it wasn’t a priority, but Brian respected the opportunity to specialize in (sound design).”

Newberg has improved the marketability of the theater program as well. Not only does he consistently recognize the talents of his students and actors, but also never takes credit for their work. He respects the process of emerging talents in theater and cultivates everyone’s individual talents.

“Everyone is nurtured and developed at their own pace,” Newberg said. “That’s the philosophy here.”

The “Almost, Maine” production dates are Nov. 20 and 21. Kent State students are admitted for free with a valid ID, and adult tickets are $10. They can be purchased online at

Katie Rush is the regionals and commuters reporter for The Kent Stater. Contact her at [email protected].