Some semblance of balance. I know, I know, this is super hypocritical coming on the heels of my last answer. But even if it isn’t BALANCE, you need to have something in your life that brings you joy outside of the work. A hobby. A friend group, a relationship. Passion that keeps you well-rounded as a human, so you can come back to your craft with a spark and a perspective.

As a part of our series about creating a successful career in theater, I had the distinct pleasure of interviewing Zachary Reeve Davidson. As the Founding Artistic Director of Coin & Ghost, Zach has remixed Shakespearean comedy, Greek tragedy, Celtic romance, Mexican folklore, German legend, French opera, and American mythology. In his “spare time,” he is a sought-after arts administrator and creative consultant, having worked with over a dozen organizations throughout Los Angeles including the Los Angeles LGBT Center, A Noise Within, Not Man Apart Physical Theatre Ensemble, Conga Kids, BLKLST, Overtone Industries, Invertigo Dance Theatre, and more. In 2023, he was named to the Nonprofit Partnership’s “Emerging Leaders” cohort and selected as a mentor for Arts For LA’s “Activate: Protege” program. Davidson is a co-author of the LA Anti-Racist Theatre Standards, a guest lecturer (CalArts, Denver University, American Academy of Dramatic Arts), and a regular panelist (California Arts Council, LA County Department of Arts and Culture, the Garry Marshall New Works Festival, the Jewish Play Project). Denver native, CalArts Mafia, on social as @reevecreates.

Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series! Can you tell us the story of how you grew up? Can you share a story with us about what brought you to this specific career path?

Sure! I grew up in Denver, CO. My father is an accountant, and HIS father was an accountant, and until I was about five years old, it was assumed that I, too, would one day be an accountant. Then I started wearing Halloween costumes to my Little League games. And it’s pretty much a straight shot from there to my current career as a full-time theater professional.

None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?

Too many to count. I sometimes think of myself as the product of all the unearned trust that wonderful people have placed in me along the way — folks like Shawn Hann (director of the theater program at Denver School of the Arts), John Farzad-Strong (Founding Artistic Director of Not Man Apart and Shakespeare Santa Monica), Nataki Garrett (recently of Oregon Shakespeare Festival and one of my first teachers at CalArts), and a hundred others. My work simply wouldn’t exist without my network of teachers, mentors, collaborators, and friends — perhaps best exemplified by my current, extraordinary cast of Mama Mama Can’t You See, who teach me more about myself, my craft, and the world around me with every passing rehearsal.

You probably have a lot of fascinating experiences. Can you tell us the most interesting story that happened to you since you began your career?

How about my favorite “everything going wrong” moment? 2013: Romeo & Juliet. The production was staged in an aisle, with audience sitting on either side and raised platforms at the end of the playing space, all surrounded by big white curtains. I was playing Mercutio (obvs), I had recently been stabbed to death (obvs), and I was up on one of the platforms. After his fight with Tybalt, our Romeo was on the ground and breathing pretty heavily. He stood up — perhaps a little too fast — got lightheaded, and took a big step backwards, up onto the platform. More specifically, onto my face. He stumbled, grabbed the curtain for balance, and fell off the back of the platform (taking the curtain down with him). To my credit, I stayed dead.

Next time we sit down, I’ll tell you about the time Shia LaBeouf asked me and my Bad Hamlet castmates if we had considered actually punching each other instead of using stage combat.

It has been said that our mistakes can be our greatest teachers. Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?

I come from the school of thought that you can’t make ANYTHING interesting without risking failure — if you’re only doing what you already know how to do, you aren’t using the creative part of your brain. I’m not sure if any “funny” mistakes come to mind per se (other than, you know, not keeping my dead Mercutio farther out of harm’s way) — but I’ve certainly learned a lot of difficult lessons along the way in terms of communication, earning trust, building ensemble, and valuing my own time.

What are some of the most interesting or exciting projects you are working on now?

I’m currently directing and choreographing a play called Mama Mama Can’t You See, which is — quite simply — my favorite thing I’ve ever worked on. It’s an original piece that was developed specifically for my theater company, Coin & Ghost, and was supposed to open on March 20, 2020. It probably doesn’t need to be said, but… that opening didn’t happen. We finally got to share the piece with an audience last May, but an Omicron spike limited both our performance run and our ability to safely invite our audience into the space with us. Now, the show is back with a full production run (Nov 10-Dec 10), a revised script, and enhanced design elements.

Mama Mama was written by two incredible playwrights: Cecilia Fairchild (whose work I’ve now directed multiple times) and Stan Mayer (a Marine veteran who served five tours in Iraq and Afghanistan). The play is based on a particularly harrowing moment from Stan’s first tour — an ambush of his unit on the banks of the Euphrates River, during which he lost several close friends in an IED blast and the ensuing firefight. It was 18 years ago, but it feels like it’s still happening now, in the way that formative moments ALWAYS seem to play on a loop. So Stan and Cecilia wrote this play about it. About storytelling. Time. Memory. Identity. And they turned this script into one of the most remarkable, theatrical things I’ve ever read. It’s eight characters — four Marines in the Iraq War (including Stan, playing himself) and four sex workers from the American Civil War (as a way to explore what it means to hold space for someone, as well as creating a theatrical device through which we can explore the perspectives of the mothers, wives, girlfriends, and everyone else who’s left to pick up the pieces when these boys do/don’t come home). The whole play — and this is not a spoiler, one of the characters says it at the beginning of the show — the whole play takes place inside the moment of that IED blast. Inside the explosion, stretched out of 90 minutes. And as the different characters — all eight of them — are dying or not dying, getting concussed or not getting concussed, their brain synapses start firing and they begin to hit each others’ memories. Stories that don’t belong to them. Moments and feelings they couldn’t possibly know about. And that becomes a way for them to collectively process whatever they’ve been through.

Info and tickets are available at I’d love to share this project with as many folks as we can, it’s really something special. It’s physical, it’s poetic, and I’ve never been a part of anything like it before.

You have been blessed with success in a career path that can be challenging. Do you have any words of advice for others who may want to embark on this career path, but seem daunted by the prospect of rejection, lack of support, or failure?

The work is difficult. If you add in the pursuit of work/life balance and a living wage, the work is impossibly difficult. The truth is that rejection, lack of support, and failure are unavoidable, they are BUILT INTO the work. But if you’re drawn to creative work, then the joy/life/fire you draw from the pursuit is core to your experience as a human. High highs, low lows, and you will feel so very alive and connected and challenged to grow every day. It’s terrible, it’s magnificent, and it’s all yours. I don’t know if that’s “advice,” really. But it’s what I’m simmering on today.

Which tips would you recommend to your colleagues in the live performance industry to help them to thrive and notburn out?

Real talk? I’m not the person to ask. I work 9–5 producing theater at the Los Angeles LGBT Center, and then I go home and make theater with my own company, Coin & Ghost. I’m burning the candle at both ends. And in the middle. It helps that I sincerely find joy/value/pleasure in the act of building administrative infrastructure and creating work,. But it’s also completely insane, and at some point, the wheels are gonna fall off. Super fun for now, though!

Thank you for all that. This is the main question of our interview. What are your 5 Things You Need To Create A Highly Successful Career in Broadway, Theater or Live Performances and why?

  1. Personal mission. Like I said, there will be a lot of days when the work feels impossible. On those days, you need to know your WHY, what keeps you in the work, what you’re pursuing.
  2. Some semblance of balance. I know, I know, this is super hypocritical coming on the heels of my last answer. But even if it isn’t BALANCE, you need to have something in your life that brings you joy outside of the work. A hobby. A friend group, a relationship. Passion that keeps you well-rounded as a human, so you can come back to your craft with a spark and a perspective.
  3. Support system. “Networking” feels too transactional — but you absolutely need to be building relationships. Who are your peers? Who is trying to solve the same problems as you? Who has your back when you fail? Who cheers for you when you succeed?
  4. Open mind. There is no right way. Especially in a creative field.
  5. Desire to grow. Read, learn, pick up whatever you can. Try things. Add stuff to your toolkit. Play. Evolve. And see what happens to your art.

For the benefit of our readers, could you describe how the skill-sets you need in a theater performance are different than the skill-sets you need for TV or Film?

I’ve always been fascinated by the difference between who your collaborators are in those two mediums. Many are the same across both — the other actors, the writer(s), the director, etc — but some are quite different. For example, in TV and Film, the editor plays a major role in shaping the performance of yours that the audience will ultimately see. And there’s a level of trust you have to put in them to do that, but there’s also a sense of play that comes along with recognizing that “this part is out is out of my hands.”

On stage, I’d say the audience feels like a primary collaborator, and you’re always looking for ways to send energy out to them and receive it back, to feed on it, listen, and play. There’s a lot more to be said about the differences between those mediums, but that aspect has always been of particular interest to me.

You are a person of enormous influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂

Drink more water. And hug people like you mean it.

Can you please give us your favorite Life Lesson Quote? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?

A couple years back, my wife dropped this absolute banger: “The more we learn to be ourselves in the world, the more we attract the things that are actually meant for us, as opposed to attracting the things meant for whomever we’re trying to be.” So that’s… fantastic. And I think, as an artist, authenticity should be the north star at the end of the day. Just learning more and more to be yourself, to hone in on your own unique voice & perspective. Send it.

We are very blessed that some very prominent names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US with whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch, and why? He or she might just see this if we tag them.

Easy. I’d grab a meal with my favorite creator (and constant inspiration), Elisa Rosin. She’s compiled an absolutely extraordinary body of work as a vocalist, actor, burlesque performer, scenic and production designer, choreographer, music director, and all-around stellar human. 10/10, big fan.

How can our readers continue to follow your work online?

Keep up with Coin & Ghost on social (@coinandghost) or on our website ( Joining the mailing list is the best way to find out about upcoming projects and opportunities! If they want to follow me, I’m on social as @reevecreates.

This was very meaningful, thank you so much! We wish you continued success!

Right back atcha! Thanks, Savio.


  • Savio P. Clemente

    TEDx Speaker, Media Journalist, Board Certified Wellness Coach, Best-Selling Author & Cancer Survivor

    Savio P. Clemente, TEDx speaker and Stage 3 cancer survivor, infuses transformative insights into every article. His journey battling cancer fuels a mission to empower survivors and industry leaders towards living a truly healthy, wealthy, and wise lifestyle. As a Board-Certified Wellness Coach (NBC-HWC, ACC), Savio guides readers to embrace self-discovery and rewrite narratives by loving their inner stranger, as outlined in his acclaimed TEDx talk: "7 Minutes to Wellness: How to Love Your Inner Stranger." Through his best-selling book and impactful work as a media journalist — covering inspirational stories of resilience and exploring wellness trends — Savio has collaborated with notable celebrities and TV personalities, bringing his insights to diverse audiences and touching countless lives. His philosophy, "to know thyself is to heal thyself," resonates in every piece.