I find it interesting that many of the plays we produce were either censured or outright banned at some time in their life. Moliére, with his penchant for satirizing those around him, found his work regularly challenged and banned. TARTUFFE, with it's blatant disregard for the morals of high society and especially those who used religious hypocrisy as a means to an end. Fast forward to 2019... suddenly we see the perfection of the charlatan's art. We have everything from religious figures talking large groups of people into financing outrageous expenses like planes, trips, and mansions. We have politicians who will outright lie, knowing full well they will be caught, but with no fear of consequences. Is Tartuffe and Orgon's story still relevant today? In many ways, I feel like the most dated element is the scale of the deception. The good news is, when we see it on stage with th marvelous performances this cast has developed, it's much much funnier than real life. Thank you for joining us, enjoy the show. - Niclas
It’s a funny thing to make a promise to yourself. After our first production of HAMLET in 2010, I promised that if we made it to ten seasons I would do it again. It was about 2 years ago that I realized it was actually going to happen, and began to ponder how my relationship to this play had changed over time. When I was directing, and playing, HAMLET for the first time, I came at it with an edge of fire, unleashing a Hamlet in a gritty world who was vengeful and as a reviewer put it, “unhinged.” But something has changed, as I’ve gotten older I begin to recognize the melancholy and loneliness Hamlet feels in stilted dreams, surrounded by public scrutiny and an unclear future. Hamlet, to me, is become a man who waits for the perfect moment to act, but wonders if that moment has passed him by. His world has become ornate, royal, and as he says, “a prison,” but in reality a prison fashioned by his own mind and the public eye. This is a magical text. I’ve now journeyed the path twice, I could do it another hundred and still never be satisfied. Thank you for 10 seasons, 2 Hamlets, and more to come. - Niclas Olson
A lot can change in two years. When I first decided to bring LYSISTRATA to the stage about two years ago, I did so because it checked all the boxes: fun high energy comedy, great roles for women, and just enough social commentary that it felt like a good fit for us. Fast forward, and as women’s rights have leapt (and rightly so) to the forefront of the national consciousness through the Women’s March and #metoo movement, LYSISTRATA feels a whole lot more relevant than anything written over 2000 years ago has any right to be. This story, of women proclaiming their independence and taking over the reins of government is at times shocking, uncomfortably modern, and also hilarious. Aristophanes’ seamless mix of contemporary issues and raunchy slapstick comedy has been a pleasure to discover with this phenomenal cast. So please sit back, have a great time, and maybe take a bit of inspiration from the women of Greece to stand up for what you believe in. - Niclas Olson
One of my favorite things about the gothic novels is the use of an epistolary technique. By treating the story as a combination of journal entries and letters, these novels invite the reader to take part as an observer, participant, or close friend. In FRANKENSTEIN, we find Captain Walton and his sister Margaret. They journey along with us as an audience and are drawn in, becoming other characters in the story as the need arises. From a theatrical standpoint, this technique is a love letter to the power of imagination, and returns this story to its roots of first person narrative. Walton tells his story to Margaret, Victor tells his story to Walton, and the Creature tells his story to Victor, and then the chain reverses until we are back to that first coupling of writer and audience. Perhaps you could think of this play as epistolary theatre. As an adaptor, the first decision to make is whether one plays to the common perception of a character or story, or returns to the source and presents the story as the author first placed it on the page. After deliberation, I decided to pursue the latter; and further made the decision that, wherever possible, this script would use the text Shelley had written. And in approximately 95% of the final text, that is exactly what happened.
Thank you for attending independent theatre. As we take the stage tonight I can begin looking ahead to our upcoming 9th season (titles will be announced on 8.20). I can’t wait to see you there.
I've posted my director's notes from nearly every production I've directed since leaving school on the site. There are some readings I've done that I didn't do notes for, but I was pleasantly surprised to be able to find the vast majority of my thoughts. Please enjoy, all notes are published with the opening date of the production.
There’s a whole lot of anger in the world right now. I feel like every time I turn on the news, open up my social media, or stand in line at the grocery store, I’m assaulted by waves of hatred and negativity. And while it’s important to be caught up with current events and fight passionately for the things you believe, at a certain point, we all just need a break. So that’s what we’re doing tonight, taking a break and entering a world where love and a good dinner are the most important things in life. Tonight we’re going on a journey to a magical realm called: Comedy.
That isn’t to say that A SERVANT OF TWO MASTERS isn’t relevant material to today’s world. One of the things that drew me to this play is the freedom it gives the cast and creative team to react to current events, and in many ways it was already ahead of its time. We’ve had an exciting, chaotic, time putting this little show together for you. I hope you have a whole lot of fun.
How do you solve a problem like Peer Gynt: an epic adventure, nearly 5 hours long (even with two parts, I’ve done some cutting), which covers nearly 60 years of the life of a main character who is, by definition, an anti-hero? He’s a pathological liar, wildly impulsive, and by the end of the play a bitter old man. This is a story with over 50 characters, including trolls, gorillas, and dancing girls that travels over two wildly different continents. In other words… the perfect show for New Muses. In many ways, this show is what we do best, taking a script or production concept that is unproducable for the larger theaters in the region and putting it on stage. This cast has been wonderful interpreting a wide range of characters, Edvard Grieg’s iconic music has helped us transport to another time, and Ibsen wrote a sweeping script that makes the long journey seem short. Thank you for joining us on the journey, I hope you enjoy the show(s).
This is a story about dreams. It is a story about men struggling to make ends meet against the face of impossible economic circumstances. And it is a story about unbreakable friendship, forged from the steel of the unending road.
CURLEY’S WIFE: I want to see somebody. Just see 'em an' talk to 'em. There ain't no women. I can't walk to town. And Curley don't take me to no dances now. I tell you I jus' want to talk to somebody.
-Act II, Sc. 1
As rendered by Steinbeck, the characters on this stage wander lost in a sea of loneliness, but not despair. These are people full of hope. What is important to note is that George and Lennie’s dream of living on their own off the fat of the land is not unique, it is the driving motivation that gets each and every one of these characters out of bed in the morning. Whether it’s a pack of mules, a soft furry rabbit, or just someone to talk to, this is a story about the overwhelming needs that drive us forward.
SLIM: Ain't many guys travel around together. I don't know why. Maybe everybody in the whole damn world is scared of each other.
-Act I, Sc. 2
CROOKS: A guy needs somebody... to be near him. A guy goes nuts if he ain't go nobody. Don't make no difference who it is as long as he's with you.
- Act II, Sc. 2
Imagine looking out over an open river, the wind in your hair, and in the distance you can just make out everything you’ve always wanted. That is how badly each of these characters wants that little piece of land to call their own. The story lives and breathes in deep perspectives and wide-open spaces. Even in the trapped interior of a bunkhouse or barn, you can still feel the open vistas of California through the walls. It’s enough to give you hope.
GEORGE: Guys like us got no families. They got a little stake and then they blow it in. They ain't got nobody in the world that gives a hoot in hell about 'em! But not us... Because I got you and...
LENNIE: And I got you. We got each other, that's what, that gives a hoot in hell about us.
-Act III, Sc. 2
We have an incredible team here at TLT. It has been a pleasure to work together with Chris, Blake, Michelle, Jeffrey, and Nena along with the cast and crew on this project. Please enjoy Of Mice and Men.
The Metropolitan Opera recently announced they had scheduled a work from a female composer into their season for the first time since 1903. That’s ridiculous. For companies that do a lot of classics, be they little like us or gigantic like the Met, it can be hard to look beyond the canonical male writers. But there is incredible work, both modern and classic, out there from women writers and tonight is our first step in making sure those brilliant authors are seen on our stage.
In a 1925 interview with the Virginia Quarterly Review Pirandello took some time to talk about his inspiration. If you’re interested, I highly suggest taking the time to read the article online as it goes far more in depth than my limited space allows. For clarity, the author the characters regularly refer to as leaving them unfinished is in fact Pirandello himself. This play, in all its strange and intriguing complexity, is an illustration of not only the process of theatrical creation, but also of Pirandello’s understanding of his own imagination. The struggle between creation and stagnation, reality and fiction, and character and creator is instantly recognizable to anyone who has ever picked up a pen or sat down at a computer to write.
I would like to extend my thanks to everyone who has visited the Dukesbay Theater to see one of our productions this season. Independent theater is a difficult business, but just like Pirandello, there are stories we need to tell; and because you support theater in the best way, by showing up, you make that possible. Thank you, I can’t wait to see you in the audience again next time.