Faces: Peter Byger

Thursday, September 16, 2004 | 12:00 a.m. CDT; updated 5:24 a.m. CDT, Tuesday, July 22, 2008

By his own admission, Peter Byger is a jack of all trades. For the past three decades and counting, he has served a resident actor-instructor at Stephens College — a director, producer, public relations agent, box office manager, security guard, student advisor, custodian and professional actor.

“I’ve done over 100 plays in my career,” said Byger, who, despite his many hats, considers himself to be an actor above all else. “I can’t live without acting, without teaching people how to live more fully through my craft.”

Byger, a self-diagnosed theatrical evangelist, is celebrating his 50th year in professional theater. He believes he is doing so because of perseverance.

“I’ve had a very fortunate, rewarding career,” he said, acknowledging the disappointments and frustrations he has endured. “I’m not even a celebrity outside of my own mind.”

Despite being a professional actor who has performed in theaters from New York to Canada to California, Byger admits that he still gets apprehensive before every performance.

“If you’re not feeling some sort of butterflies, you’re not ready,” he said. “I mean, you’re out there naked, raw and exposed before people you’ve never met, and that can be unnerving.”

When asked, Byger said he could not pick a favorite play he has appeared in or character he has portrayed. “I’ve played so many roles,” he said. “They’re like children — you can’t love one more than another. Every role I do I fall in love with, I believe in it and try to give the audience something they can believe in and enjoy as well.”

Byger is currently working on the Stephens College production of “Our Town,” which opens Friday at the Macklanburg Playhouse.

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