Actor Susanna Florence Risser on PILOT PROGRAM

Susanna Florence Risser makes her Plan-B debut with PILOT PROGRAM. She was most recently seen in ONE MAN, TWO GUVNORS at Pioneer. I met Melissa Leilani Larson in 2000 at BYU. I was enrolled in a class called WDA (writers, directors, actors) and Melissa was one of three playwrights (or screenwriters) selected to workshop a piece that they had in process. Every week each writer would bring in revisions in response to the feedback she or he had received the previous week from the professors and other participants in the workshop. I liked her play immediately. The first things that struck me about Mel was that her writing was consistently natural and easy, though her subject matter varied widely. The second thing that struck me was how prolific she was. While other writers would come in with small, sometimes inconsequential changes of grammar or syntax, unwilling to make major changes or let go of clever bits that didn’t really serve the story, Mel would come in with pages and pages. She was quick to evaluate critique and then was able to revise and revamp, accepting feedback but also maintaining the integrity of her own idea and voice. We developed a natural friendship and I immediately looked forward to being in a full production of one of her plays.  I have been to productions of many of her plays as well as many readings in New York, Provo and Salt Lake (one inspired by a request I made that she write a play about Joan of Arc). However, because of consistent life events, moves, grad school (for both of us)...

Carleton Bluford’s version of A/VERSION OF EVENTS

Carleton Bluford has previously appeared in Plan-B’s WALLACE, SLAM, MARRY CHRISTMAS and THE THIRD CROSSING; he appears in A/VERSION OF EVENTS through March 15. His play MAMA premiered in February at Plan-B. It’s hard to say what my journey is/was with A/VERSION OF EVENTS. Grief can come from many places and events in our lives. I find that as an actor, to access those emotions, you have to relate and connect somehow to the material. Although I’ve never had or lost a child, I do know what it’s like to feel loss and despair. I have been on my own personal journey this year dealing with old demons within my family, my career and as a person. it’s been a very reflective year. So when asked to do A/VERSION OF EVENTS, a show in which I’m forced to drudge up these emotions, its a very fine science of walking that line between character emotion and real emotion. That being said, as you can imagine, it’s been a bit hard. I will tell you what makes it easier though: working with such a talent as Latoya. She is bold and courageous and beautiful. very insightful and giving on stage. And it has also been a blessing working with Christy as a director. I’m sure we bugged and irritated her with all of our questions and promptings, but she was very knowledgeable and flexible and dedicated to the piece. Playwright Matt Bennett has really out done himself in such a good way. As actors, it’s a challenge and a good one at that. Other actors are most certainly going to want...

Christy Summerhays on directing A/VERSION OF EVENTS

Christy Summerhays has acted regularly for Plan-B over the past decade, including Matthew Ivan Bennett’s MESA VERDE. She also directed PETER AND THE WOLF, Plan-B’s inaugural Free Elementary School Tour. Ironically, one of the first obstacles I found myself facing when preparing to direct A/VERSION OF EVENTS was to allow myself have my own “version” of this play Matthew Ivan Bennett had written. I knew I must allow the piece to speak to me through the particular lens that was my own and that I had to honor that as best I could. That was my job. A well-written play always has a wealth of information to spark your imagination and this piece had much to say from the very beginning. Though it might not have come easy, ultimately, we got along very well and I was able to feel confident going into our first rehearsal . . . where the next “version” of the play was to be added – the actors. They would bring their own point of view – and who knew what would come of that! Exciting! This piece is about a married couple – two very strong individuals who have suffered a terrible tragedy and now must navigate their way through it. At its core is the universal theme of grief and, with it, the varied ways each of us copes with grief. Sometimes we laugh through it, sometimes we shut down, and sometimes we let it all hang out. Matt has explored all of these colors through the characters of Hannah and Cooper. Now that we’re about to open the play, we will...

High school playwriting students visit A/VERSION OF EVENTS Rehearsal

On Friday, February 20, a group of high school playwriting students from American International School of Utah sat in on rehearsal for Matthew Ivan Bennett’s A/VERSION OF EVENTS. They shared a bit about their experience with ua. The play was amazing and I can’t wait to see it come together. I had fun laughing and learning how to run a rehearsal. I also got many ideas for my play. Also Oscar was the most adorable child ever! – Brinlee Burmingham I loved the dialogue in the run through. I feel that they have a very talented crew and actors, I loved how the director knew exactly what she wanted and then so shyly and quietly delivered her constructive criticism and yet it had an authoritative state to it. I think it will be a great play. – Jonah Russell This experience of watching the director with the actors was truly memorable. It shows me how much hard work the actors actually put in to these plays. Thank you Plan-B for giving me this opportunity. – Alexa Hill Well when I got there I thought it was going to suck but after like the first 15 minutes I started to love it. It was the best thing I have ever seen I wish I could go again like 10 more times. – Jackson Spencer I loved the experience! I loved being able to see the actors up close and acting. They did a great job. I loved the show. The acting was great and the director and writer were very nice and accommodating. – Chloe Gilmore Sitting in on a...

Actor Latoya Rhodes on performing in MAMA and rehearsing A/VERSION OF EVENTS

Latoya Rhodes has previously appeared in Plan-B’s HEDWIG AND THE ANGRY INCH (10th anniversary revival), SLAM and the Free Elementary School Tour of DIFFERENT=AMAZING. She is currently appearing in MAMA and in rehearsal for A/VERSION OF EVENTS. “Guess what they have at the Pennsylvania Wawa? Éclairs mama!” Wait? Was that the line? It has been interesting balancing running MAMA performances at night and rehearsing A/VERSION OF EVENTS during the day. I remember everyone telling me to make sure I don’t start reciting lines from A/VERSION during MAMA. Thus far, I’ve  achieved keeping the shows separate, and have not merged them together . . .  yet! Last Monday the chaos began for me with daytime rehearsals for A/VERSION OF EVENTS and  evening performances of MAMA. Because of the energy of starting a new play my energy was bright, alert, and ready to dive into the piece. To connect with the material, and start getting into the shoes of Hannah. Also, thinking in the back of my mind, “We open MAMA this week!!!” So my energy probably was everywhere, ready to take on the challenge of putting up two new shows back to back. Thinking to myself, what an honor this is! Along with, what the hell was I thinking! More of the former than the latter. I remember Christy [Summerhays, director of A/VERSION OF EVENTS) asking me if I was exhausted. I oddly was not! I was extremely pumped. In MAMA I play all the daughters in the scenes and in A/VERSION OF EVENTS I’m playing a woman struggling with the idea of being or becoming a mother because a...

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