Chase Stubblefield first appeared on stage as a rain cloud. He was in elementary school, and the show was “Weather or Not,” written by a teacher.
Stubblefield — a 2007 graduate of Buchanan High School — performed regularly until he went off to one of the nation’s top universities to study math and computer science.
A high-tech and high-paying job followed in San Francisco. But now he’s back in Clovis and on the stage again.
He’s a 26-year-old in transition — trying to figure out the balance between work and his personal life.
Stubblefield has a leading role in a Good Company Players’ production of “An Ideal Husband” at the 2nd Space Theatre in the Tower District. The show runs until June 12. Then he’s scheduled to appear in the company’s next two shows — “I Hate Hamlet” and “Witness for the Prosecution — at 2nd Space.
“I’ve always appreciated the opportunity to be given the stage and take the attention of an audience,” Stubblefield said. “In real life, I’m down-to-earth, very realistic and even pessimistic at times. But on stage, I get to be someone else and break out of that shy mentality.”
In “An Ideal Husband” — an 1895 play by Oscar Wilde with witty dialogue and serious topics: blackmail and political corruption — Stubblefield plays a 40-year-old British politician. His English accent is good, and so is the show.
Stubblefield brings the analytical skills of a computer programmer — which he is — to the creative pursuit of acting.
“There is a lot of analytical thinking that goes on with acting,” he said. “You have to have a split brain with acting. Part of you has to be thinking about the emotions of your character. But you still need that other part of your brain that knows you’re an actor — that part of you that has to think, ‘What’s the next line?’
“I like structure and following rules, and theater fits nicely into that. There is just enough creativity on the stage for me.”
Laurie Pessano, the director of “An Ideal Husband,” said Stubblefield is “smart and very intellectual about the work, which is really fun. We’re happy to have him on board.” He is acting for the first time in a GCP production.
Stubblefield has seemed a natural on the stage since he debuted as a nimbus cloud at Fort Washington Elementary School.
“I just always liked to perform,” he said. “I was always pretty confident and never felt nervous or afraid.”
In intermediate school, Stubblefield did several shows at the Cynthia Merrill School of Performing Arts, and then at Buchanan, he performed in eight shows in four years. The Buchanan productions included “My Fair Lady,” “Lend Me a Tenor,” “42nd Street” and “Medea,” a Greek tragedy.
Stubblefield considers Brent Moser — his drama teacher for several years at Buchanan — a mentor. Moser, who is now the visual and performing arts coordinator for Clovis Unified School District, said Stubblefield was an exceptional student.
“Some kids look to avoid challenges or rigor in the classroom — not Chase,” Moser said. “He actually pushed me to challenge him. He wanted the toughest roles, the most involved assignments, even as a young student actor.”
Moser said Stubblefield also had a command of events beyond the high school campus: “We could have conversations about what was going on in the world as easily as what was happening in the classroom. His success is no surprise to me.”
At Buchanan, Stubblefield was not a one-act wonder who devoted himself only to performing arts. He took multiple Advanced Placement classes, developed his talent for mathematics and was accepted to the University of California, Berkeley.
“I have a big passion for computer and software development, and that took a priority once I went to college,” Stubblefield said.
After graduating from UC Berkeley, he got a job in San Francisco developing software for Change.org, a petition website that provides a means for people to promote social causes. Stubblefield enjoyed the job but found it demanding.
“The work often came home with me, and it was hard to have other activities,” he said.
The job paid well, but the cost of living in San Francisco is high. Traffic congestion also weighed on him, Stubblefield said.
“I became disillusioned with living large and earning the big paycheck, and I realized I didn’t care about those things as much as I thought I would,” Stubblefield said. “I didn’t need the big city. It was a big realization, and it took courage to come back home.”
He quit his job and returned to Clovis last September. Stubblefield’s parents, Michael and Jeri, live east of Clovis. His sister, Sage, lives in Fresno.
Stubblefield is looking for a technology-related job in the Fresno-Clovis area but in the meantime is driving for Uber.
He said he’s not worried about the future but acknowledges that’s easier because he’s single and doesn’t have family responsibilities.
“Instead of laying out some career path and working myself up the ladder, I’d rather be satisfied with who I am and where I am now,” he said.
Stubblefield said he doesn’t see himself pursuing acting as a profession. Not only is it hard to make a living in show business, but it means living in cities such as Los Angeles or New York, he said: “That’s a lifestyle I don’t care for. Acting is more fulfilling if I keep it separate from my work life. Then I’m doing it for the fun.”