Terrence W. Dwyer has been president of the Segerstrom Center for the Arts in Costa Mesa, California since 2006. Before participating in a panel on whether the arts make us better people, he explained why he was nicknamed “Buffalo” in college and offered his most overrated playwrights in the Zócalo green room.
What do you eat for breakfast?
Oatmeal, raisins, and nuts. Coffee. Fruit.
Do you have any recurring dreams or nightmares?
You know I have dreams and nightmares, I wake up, and I’ve forgotten them. They’re disturbing, and then I wake up and they’re gone. So maybe that’s good.
When did you last yell at someone or get yelled at?
That’s a trick question. There were moments at the Segerstrom Center where voices have been raised in my direction.
What salad dressing best resembles you and why?
Balsamic vinaigrette. Hopefully lean and straightforward.
When did you last get a traffic ticket?
About three years ago. Illegal left turn.
Did you have any nicknames as a kid?
[Laughs.] As a college student, Buffalo. [Do I dare ask why?] I had long hair and a long beard and a moustache, and drinking was involved. Somebody named me. It stuck for a couple years.
What would be your dream play to put on at the Segerstrom?
Any play by Paula Vogel or the Belarus Free Theatre. We’ve been able to do one of those [the Belarus Free Theatre], which is great.
What’s the best advice you’ve ever received?
Just to relax.
Who do you think is the most overrated playwright?
I will say from my point of view, someone like Alan Ayckbourn or Neil Simon.
Where do you come up with your best ideas?
Anywhere when I’m not trying to come up with my best ideas. They come to me unexpectedly. Or when I’m surrounded by interesting people.