Actor Robert Scott Smith on THE KREUTZER SONATA

THE KREUTZER SONATA by Eric Samuelsen receives its world premiere in a co-production with NOVA Chamber Music Series through November 9 featuring violinist Kathryn Eberle, pianist Jason Hardink and actor Robert Scott Smith, directed by Jerry Rapier. All performances are sold out but a wait list forms in the Rose Wagner Box Office one hour before show time on November 1, 2 and 9 (showtime 7pm) and November 8 (showtimes 4pm and 7pm). You must be in the box office, in person, to get on the wait list. So far, we’ve gotten people on the wait list into every performance! THE KREUTZER SONATA also plays the United Solo Theatre Festival in New York on November 4 at 9pm. Music. Such a mysterious power. Now, I have to be honest. I’m of an MTV generation and pop music was what defined my audio kaleidoscope. It started with my mother and her love of Elvis, Dolly, and The Carpenters. We even had an old school Wurlitzer Jukebox and we filled it with 45s and the 80’s (my insistence). A far cry from Beethoven, but it was my world and my experience. That being said, I’ve always felt that music opens a special gateway into human emotion. I’m not an expert on the science behind sound, but there is undeniable power in music. A vibration that cuts to the core. Music has undeniable power. Listen as I listen. About a year ago Jerry asked me if I would be interested in performing in this ‘as-yet-to-be-created’ show. Based on the concept alone, I was on board. How could I refuse? An actor rarely gets the opportunity to...

Violinist Kathryn Eberle on THE KREUTZER SONATA

THE KREUTZER SONATA by Eric Samuelsen receives its world premiere in a co-production with NOVA Chamber Music Series through November 9 featuring violinist Kathryn Eberle, pianist Jason Hardink and actor Robert Scott Smith, directed by Jerry Rapier. Ticket availability s extremely limited. The first time I heard the Beethoven Kreutzer Sonata was in the weekly violin studio class of my violin professor at the University of Southern California in Los Angeles. All of his students were packed into his tiny teaching studio in the USC music building. Another of my teacher’s students was performing the Kreutzer for the rest of the violin studio. From the very first chords of the violin playing alone, to the driving final movement, I was transfixed. In the violin world, we often put the music we perform into two categories. On the one hand, there’s the “serious, profound music,” of which I would put masterpieces such as the solo Bach Sonatas and Partitas. And then there’s the lighter “showpieces” – works by such composers as Paganini, Sarasate and Kreisler – that might not be very deep music but is incredibly virtuosic, impressive and flashy. What impressed me, hearing the Kreutzer Sonata for the very first time, was how easily it straddles both types of music. It’s some of the most profound, genuine and heartfelt musical writing one will hear yet simultaneously is also incredibly technically challenging and virtuosic. From that day forward, I was hooked on this sonata. I asked my teacher if I could perform the piece for my graduation recital and he agreed. Learning the Kreutzer brought up many different discussions in my...

Pianist Jason Hardink on THE KREUTZER SONATA

THE KREUTZER SONATA by Eric Samuelsen receives its world premiere in a co-production with NOVA Chamber Music Series October 18-November 9 featuring violinist Kathryn Eberle, pianist Jason Hardink and actor Robert Scott Smith, directed by Jerry Rapier. As a musician I can’t help but be drawn to Tolstoy’s novella “The Kreutzer Sonata,” but one cannot make such a statement without some explanation. A story about a man driven into such a jealous rage that he murders his wife – what’s to love here? Well, for starters, Tolstoy’s narrator brings into question all kinds of musician-type issues I deal with every day. When I play music by a composer like Beethoven, I go out of my way to try to erase 200 years of tradition and reception history. What kind of person was Beethoven, what was his world like, what was he trying to say through his works? But while I think this exercise is critical to great performances, music only truly exists in the moment it is being brought to life, it exists between living human beings, between musician and audience. That’s what Tolstoy’s character finds so exhilarating and disturbing: once the music is set in motion, we are powerless to stop it. The author’s narrator tries to do exactly that, to put an end to everything by embracing the violence he hears in Beethoven’s Kreutzer sonata. But killing his wife, the musician responsible for bringing this music into his life, can’t undo what already exists in his mind. He will spend the rest of his days haunted by the ferocious, accented world of the Kreutzer. I have witnessed...

Playwright Eric Samuelsen on creating THE KREUTZER SONATA for the 2015/16 Season

THE KREUTZER SONATA by Eric Samuelsen receives its world premiere in a co-production with NOVA Chamber Music Series October 18-November 9 featuring violinist Kathryn Eberle, pianist Jason Hardink and actor Robert Scott Smith, directed by Jerry Rapier. When Jerry Rapier asked me to read Tolstoy’s novella “The Kreutzer Sonata,” my first reaction to it was a strange one. I thought; what a sad guy. The story’s protagonist and narrator, Pozdnyshev reveals himself as narcissistic, arrogant, sexist and, ultimately, violent. Also, unattractively self-pitying. But he’s also astute (and cynical) in his ruthless deconstruction of the patriarchal culture in which he was raised, and its destructiveness. His marriage is – as he well knows – a hideous farce, lacking the most rudimentary interpersonal connection, or even, most of the time, compassion or kindness. But he’s also capable of mourning, of sorrowful contemplation of the institutional prison in which both he and his wife are incarcerated. He knows himself, and he knows her, well enough to know that they should never have married. What he can’t do is escape. What it reminded me of was August Strindberg’s “Inferno,” a novel written just seven years after Tolstoy wrote Kreutzer. Strindberg’s excoriating account of the horror show of his marriage to Frida Uhl, and his subsequent descent into madness has a similar flaying honesty, though Strindberg’s novel also suggests the possibility of redemption through Swedenborgian spirituality. But Pozdnyshev allows himself no similar escape. His paranoia and the grotesque fantasies with which he indulges and nurtures his neuroses can find no release, no ultimate resolution. What Nora, in Ibsen’s A DOLL HOUSE, calls ‘the greatest...

Our 25th Anniversary Season

This blog post might read like a press release because, well, it’s a press release.  But don’t hold that against us! PLAN-B THEATRE COMPANY ANNOUNCES FIVE EXCITING WORLD PREMIERES FOR ITS 25TH ANNIVERSARY, 2015/2016 SEASON Award-winning theatre celebrates a quarter century of success with a rich lineup of world premieres celebrating music, diversity and human relationships. (Salt Lake City, UT) – Continuing our unique legacy of producing new plays by Utah playwrights, Plan-B Theatre Company announces its 25th season with a slate of world premieres. The season offers a peek into the mind of a madman and the music that created it, a haunting radio play, a humorous look at the dreariness of holiday retail, a journey through relationships past and future, and Plan-B’s first-ever new musical that features a housewife who dreams of something more. “Plan-B is committed to telling stories from a local point of view. Our 25th season takes that a step further, exploring how comfortable we feel inside our own narratives,“ says Jerry Rapier, Plan-B’s producing director. The season begins October 18, 2015, and runs through April 10, 2016. Season tickets, only $70 (a 20% savings) are available now at Plan-B’s website. THE KREUTZER SONATA by Eric Samuelsen October 18–November 9, 2015 (Also November 4, 2015, at New York’s United Solo Theatre Festival) The season opens with a harrowing exploration of the mind of a murderer, of a man driven mad by Beethoven’s music. “Music, like marriage, is but a violence and a falsehood,” says the madman (Robert Scott Smith) and both torment him to the point of no return. This cautionary tale is interwoven with a...

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