Robert Cooperman is the founder and president of Stage Right Theatrics. Stage Right Theatrics is a non-profit theater dedicated to promoting conservative-themed plays and artists. They present the annual Conservative Theatre Festival®, as well as produce original plays with conservative/traditional points of view.


Tamara Wilhite: What led you to create Stage Right?

Robert Cooperman:  I became a little tired of seeing characters with conservative points of view depicted as bumpkins and ignorant slobs (you know, the “clingers” that our former president referred to).  What’s more, I saw a very obvious worldview in the arts that was leftist in nature and omnipresent in many plays.  This worldview is anti-America in that it believes America is a horrible place, irredeemably racist. homophobic, misogynistic, and white-supremacist.  The characters in these plays are almost never interesting or worth our time because they are invariably victims in a hostile society that somehow does not recognize their intrinsic worth.

I’ve read play after play where the characters are miserable, crazy, or both, and we the audience are supposed to find something appealing about them and sympathize.  I’m looking for a theatre universe where we have real heroes (not anti-heroes) and a true sense of hope and redemption–not merely a surrender to societal/cultural forces that render us–as that terrible musical calls it–“next to normal.”

That’s why I started Stage Right Theatrics: to present a voice that has been silenced by the left’s hegemonic control over the arts.


Tamara Wilhite: How many productions have you held to date?  

Robert Cooperman:  We started in January 2017 with the first Conservative Theatre Festival® and since then have put on at least two productions a year.  The Festival is an annual event and we’ve also produced plays by David Mamet (the Ohio premiere), Jonathan Reynolds, Phelim McAleer, and new plays by writers from all over the country.  One of our goals is to be a forum where the conservative point-of-view can be seen and heard on the stage.  If the theatre world truly believes in diversity and inclusion, it should embrace what we’re doing.  It should come as no surprise that it doesn’t.  So much for diversity and inclusion!


Tamara Wilhite: Which one was the most popular? And why was it so?  

Robert Cooperman:  Our fourth annual Conservative Theatre Festival® in January 2020 was by far our most popular show. I think this is due to a number of factors: increased marketing to the right audience; word of mouth; and the willingness of conservatives in society to celebrate their worldview without ridicule.


Tamara Wilhite: Which production was most meaningful to you? Or was the one that you wish had greater reach?  

Robert Cooperman:  I hope this isn’t blowing my own horn too much, but in September 2019 we produced my original play, “Meaning.” This is a play about the defense of Western values and pits them against the forces at a major university that seeks to stifle them.  I am generally opposed to one-word titles as they are very often the sign of a bad play; I use my title as a parody of pretentious playwrights who use one-word titles they think are saturated with meaning.  The play also talks about my personal history and battle with anxiety disorder, so it is a personal piece for me, as well.

As far as greater reach, I wish all my productions had reach beyond the central Ohio community.  Ironically, with the presence of COVID, greater outreach is a real possibility through virtual productions–although I have argued that when virtual theatre becomes the norm, that will be the end of theatre.


Tamara Wilhite: Your theater is located in Ohio. Where else can conservative playwrights get their works seen?

Robert Cooperman:  Darned if I know.  It is typical for a playwright to send me a play along with a note of thanks for being the one company that will look at their work with respect and seriousness.  I’m sure there are pockets of conservative theatres out there, but for the most part, Stage Right is it.


Tamara Wilhite: How often do plays turn into movies, TV shows or online content? What success stories can you discuss with the Liberty Island Magazine audience?  

Robert Cooperman:  If you’re talking about the plays that we have produced at Stage Right, that has not happened yet.  Right now, our success stories are limited to the spread of our ideas and greater awareness that we exist.  For example, I recently had a discussion with the Heritage Foundation, who would like to help conservative artists become a force.  I have met filmmakers who have had success bringing conservative-themed films to the public arena and there are, of course, some television shows that are considered “conservative,” although I’m not sure that the mainstream definition of “conservative” jibes with mine.  I’m a bit jaded when it comes to television because I think television writing both perpetuates the leftwing point of view and serves as a model for bad playwriting.  As an example, I was watching a rerun of “The Dick Van Dyke Show” where Rob has to teach his son about the birds and bees.  It was handled so thoughtfully, tactfully, with a sense of shame, and respect for the audience.  I can openly imagine how that scene would play out today!  It would no doubt be graphic, suggestive (if not blatant), and pandering to the lowest common denominator.


Tamara Wilhite: What are you currently working on?  

Robert Cooperman:  A few things.  First, I am going forward with the Fifth Annual Conservative Theatre Festival® in late January.  It will be produced live but will also be live-streamed, so that we can reach a much wider audience across the country.  Because it is my fifth annual Festival, I am also starting on a book about conservative theatre, brilliantly titled “Conservative Theatre.”  It will feature a selection of the plays that we have produced at the Festival over the years, but it will also include an introductory essay that defines conservative theatre.  I am also working on a short book entitled “Bad Playwriting,” which will espouse my theories about what makes playwriting so unfulfilling today (the influence of television is one factor).  It is not a book about how to write a play; it is a book that points out bad writing.  I am also planning the rest of my 2021 season (which is basically my postponed 2020 season) and beyond.  Finally, I am working on a play myself.


Tamara Wilhite: Is there anything you’d like to add?  

Robert Cooperman:  Yes, I’d love for your readers to be aware of Stage Right’s motto: “Disagreement Does Not Equal Hate”®.  This is a sentiment that even those on the left have appreciated.  I’m glad because it is a message to the left in particular.  The right is not, as is commonly and erroneously thought, motivated by hate (a word that is bandied around so much now that it has lost its currency).  Our disagreement with the left stems from political and religious beliefs (among others) that should be seen as another point of view in celebration of diversity.  Our motto is a warning to small thinkers who try to pigeonhole conservatives into a small box of hate, while, ironically, it is they who hate us, and are not afraid to say so.


Tamara Wilhite: Thank you for speaking with me.   

Robert Cooperman:  It is my pleasure!