His day begins waking up in his home by the beaches in Connecticut. He uses the first half of the day to spend quality time with his daughter and wife by the shore – the second half of the day, he takes a train to New York City to work as a freelance theater director.
Sasha Bratt, 32, is a loving father and a theater aficionado. Not only is Bratt a freelance theater director, but he is also the Director of Theater at Miss Porter’s School in Farmington, CT.
“I live out in Connecticut, I live out by the beach, so I’ll have mornings where I’m out with my daughter on the beach, running in the waves, playing Disney characters, playing Ariel, [Little Mermaid] and then I come home and have 15 minutes to get my script, get my stuff together, get her ready, wait for the babysitter – the babysitter’s late, so stress for like 20 minutes – and then get an hour train ride into the city [New York] where I get to get all my work done,” said Bratt loquaciously. “And then there’s no place in the world where I’d rather be than in a rehearsal room.”
Unlike many other theater directors, Bratt, whose current production, “Frame 313,” is enjoying a run at the Midtown International Theatre Festival, didn’t start as a professional actor, but the flexibility as a freelance director permits him more time with his family.
His passion for theater didn’t necessarily begin to develop until college. In grade school and high school, Bratt played in a few shows, but nothing was certain about his career from that.
Being unsure of what he wanted to study in college, he picked up theater again. From there his choice was clear.
He completed his B.A. in Theater/Dance from Trinity College in 2003 and worked in numerous gigs in Washington, DC for several years. Then, he went back to school in Catholic University of America to obtain his M.A. in Theater Education in 2011 and his M.F.A. in Directing in 2012.
“I just did it [theater] in college. I had a lot of input from people of the different majors I could be and the thing I liked the most was theater,” said Bratt. “I never thought I was going to do theater for the rest of my life. After I graduated and I had my thesis – directed and wrote that – I still didn’t think I would do this.”
It wasn’t until he went to Shakespeare & Company in Berkshire, MA, for an actor-training program that he decided theater was going to be his career. Bratt originally thought this would be his last “hurrah” in theater – the writings in his notebook from that time claimed he would no longer pursue theater, until the company hired him to be a theater educator and to direct in high schools.
“Working there – their training, their enthusiasm – everything I got from there, I still use today and that’s when I decided I’m going to do this forever,” said Bratt.
His grandfather, Louis Moglia, a World War II veteran and artist, died 19 years ago. He was Bratt’s hero. When Bratt directed his first play, his mother handed him a medal that Moglia won for fine arts in 1938. Bratt continues to wear the medal whenever he auditions, or on opening nights.
What makes this medal special for Bratt is how important a figure Moglia was to him. Moglia received a full scholarship to an art school in Paris, but he had to decline because he was an Italian immigrant at the time that had other obligations.
“So I always think that I can’t let this opportunity go to waste. I was offered a full scholarship for grad school and I took it,” expressed Bratt. “And that’s the American dream. He [Moglia] couldn’t do it, so I could and my parents helped me get to that position.”
Bratt’s latest, notable achievement is when he directed “Othello” by William Shakespeare in Playhouse on Park in CT. The play won Best Play of 2013 from broadwayworld.com.
He wouldn’t be where he is today if he hadn’t pushed and strived for getting a directing gig.
“You have to hustle – you have to be out there,” said Bratt. “And it’s really hard; I’ve definitely applied to more jobs than I’ve gotten much like an actor deals with failure 90% of the time with auditions.”
When directing, he has a certain mindset that will unite everyone – the cast, the stage crew, etc. – and work as a team.
As the director, every choice Bratt makes is his, but he allows everyone to contribute to the production besides his or her skills. Every one has their niche in regards to how they perform their role, or how it can better perform their role and he isn’t afraid to let each individual be creative with their parts, as long as it works.
“The director is like a music conductor – I don’t know how to play the oboe, I don’t know how to play the trumpet, I don’t know how to play a piano – but my job is to know how they all sound together,” said Bratt. “I can’t costume, I can’t do these things – but if I can get costumes, sounds, lights and set together and the performance is in joint to make sure the actors are working together – that’s my job. My job is to keep that uniformed vision of the world and still have the confidence of the people that I’ve asked to be together to let them explore.”
The mistakes he often makes as a director are when something in the production can be improved and he disregards it by saying that it isn’t that bad. These mistakes are the ones that can be noticed on opening night, as he watches the final production.
However, Bratt isn’t always directing, although, he could. He teaches and works well with teaching aspiring actors. His directing and teaching roles go hand-in-hand which allows him to understand two playing fields – developing young actors and instructing experienced actors.
When Bratt was an undergrad student, he claimed to be a playwright, actor, director and set builder – allowing him to fully grasp every production role’s difficulties. He’s done it all, working with wood, fidgeting with light boards, fixing sound issues and having these strengths in other fields made him stand out.
Bratt embraces every experience he’s had and the beauty of his career is that he will always have time for his family. He enjoys being the “Disney Dance DJ” at 9:30a.m. for his daughter and then enjoys traveling into the city for rehearsals.
“One of the reasons why I steered towards directing and away from acting is because that process [of being a father at home and then a director in the city] is what I enjoy more than anything else,” said Bratt. “I’ll be at opening night and then I may, or may not be at the rest of the shows, but for me it’s all about getting everyone – the actors, the designers, the playwrights – to the final place, so it’s my two favorite places in the world to be.”