Playwright & director Eric Samuelsen on creating CLEARING BOMBS

Eric Samuelsen has been writing for Plan-B for a decade: seven SLAM plays, two Ibsen translations presented as part of the Script-In-Hand Series (A DOLL HOUSE and GHOSTS) and five world premieres (MIASMA, AMERIGO, BORDERLANDS, NOTHING PERSONAL and RADIO HOUR EPISODE 8: FAIRYANA).  The 2013/14 #SeasonOfEric is fully dedicated to his work. Sometime in the summer of 1942, John Maynard Keynes and Friedrich A. Hayek spent a night on the roof of King’s College Chapel in Cambridge.  It was a college faculty assignment, to spend the night there and extinguish any German incendiary bombs that might drop in an air raid.  Almost nothing is known about that night.  Neither Keynes nor Hayek wrote of it at any length, except for a brief mention of it by Keynes in a letter.  Even so indefatigable a biographer as Robert Skidelsky (my apologies, sir: that should be Baron Skidelsky), whose magisterial three volumes of Keynes biography would seem fairly all-inclusive, didn’t mention it.  I learned of it in the book that first drew my attention to the friendship and rivalry between the two economists: Nicholas Wapshott’s “Keynes Hayek.”  I think it’s likely that the event took place either in June or mid-August, 1942.  Those two time periods coincide with Keynes’ weekends at Cambridge. Anyway, I found it fascinating.  Two remarkable economists, brilliant men, endangering their lives for a patriotic and college faculty assignment.  What did they talk about?  1942 is a fascinating time period for their discussion to have taken place.  The outcome of the war was still very much in doubt, and yet economists were very intensely engaged in conversations about...

Cheryl Cluff on her love of radio (audio) drama as she preps for RADIO HOUR EPISODE 8: FAIRYANA

Cheryl Cluff co-founded Plan-B in 1991 and is the company’s Managing Director.  She has directed all of Plan-B’s RADIO HOURs, MESA VERDE, THE SCARLET LETTER and SUFFRAGE and has  designed sound for nearly every Plan-B production since 2000. As we prepare for RADIO HOUR EPISODE 8: FAIRYANA next week, I’m delighted to see a bit of a surge in the popularity of radio drama, or audio drama, as people are calling it now, with the cult-like popularity of podcasts like Welcome to Night Vale. The internet has made radio drama much more accessible and easier to produce and that’s a great thing. I found an interesting article recently, “Internet Saved the Radio Star: The Rise of Podcast Drama” by Sean Bell. This quote caught my attention: “Whether we’re driving to work, eating dinner, lying in bed in the darkness . . . we can surround ourselves with stories, and thrill to hear voices even when no one’s there.” However, very few theatres are doing live radio drama with a “studio audience” and also broadcasting live at the same time. There’s a certain magic that happens when you put those two elements (live audience and live broadcast) together. Support from KUER and Doug Fabrizio has been critical and I’m so thankful RadioWest has been our partner on RADIO HOUR since 2005. I love that RADIO HOUR has remained so popular over the years and that people value coming to see the live performance. Listening at home is fun, but being a part of the “live studio audience” is a blast because you get to see how the live sound effects are...

Eric Samuelsen on writing about children's television for radio – RADIO HOUR EPISODE 8: FAIRYANA

Eric Samuelsen has been writing for Plan-B for a decade: seven SLAM plays, two Ibsen translations presented as part of the Script-In-Hand Series (A DOLL HOUSE and GHOSTS) and four world premieres (MIASMA, AMERIGO, BORDERLANDS and NOTHING PERSONAL).  The 2013/14 #SeasonOfEric is fully dedicated to his work. I am a life-long fan of hard-boiled detective fiction: cynical, world-weary cops and private eyes scratching out a living in a tough-as-nails urban environment.  Carroll John Daly started the genre in the 20’s, handed it over to Dashiell Hammett, and on to Raymond Chandler.  But I first encountered it in two writers who I couldn’t get enough of, growing up: Elmore Leonard and Donald E. Westlake.  And Westlake was my favorite of the two. I especially loved Westlake’s Dortmunder novels.  Over the course of fourteen novels, I followed the adventures of John Dortmunder, a small-town New York crook, who was a brilliant planner of capers, but plagued with bad luck.  His gang always included Kelp (who got the stuff they needed) and Murch (the driver), and often included a motley group of sidekicks, including strong man Tiny Bulcher, Judson (the Kid) Blint (utility infielder), Arnie Albright (the fence), and Rollo the Bartender, who ran the OJ Bar just off Amsterdam Avenue, with the back room where all their jobs were planned.  The Dortmunder gang never got caught, but they never made much money either, mostly coming away with about the same scratch they would have had if they’d had honest jobs. I loved everything about these novels.  I loved the wry and cynical commentary on New York life, the amoral world of...

Audience Comments: NOTHING PERSONAL

Audience comments on the world premiere of Eric Samuelsen’s NOTHING PERSONAL: NOTHING PERSONAL is the best thing I have ever seen, anywhere. Everyone must see this play. – MaryBeth Jarvis Clark  Whoa, Eric Samuelsen, whoa. Thanks Kirt Bateman, and April Fossen (and Dee-Dee Darby-Duffin) for making tears pour from my eyes and my face contort into what I’m going to call “WTF” face. I got home and said, “What the hell did I just see?” to my empty house. People: GO see NOTHING PERSONAL. – Sarah Danielle Young  Listen to me and hear me now. I had the good fortune to catch NOTHING PERSONAL in dress rehearsal. I was FLOORED by what an amazing piece of work this is on EVERY level. I have never, NEVER had such a completely engaging, provocative, visceral, PRESENT experience watching a live performance as I did watching this one. So well done, and such residual fodder for thought. It was hard not to stand up and talk to the characters, try to help, yell at some of them. It was hard not to get involved. It was difficult to simply to stay seated in my chair like an audience member is supposed to. Amazing work by everyone. Thank you to Eric Samuelsen, Jerry Rapier, Kirt Bateman, April Fossen, Dee-Dee Darby-Duffin, and to everyone else who took part in the creation and funding of this play. It feels to me like NOTHING PERSONAL is an evolution of the art form. – Melissa Rasmussen We were really challenged by the play because it was a “play” and not completely factual – that’s not a complaint,...

Martine Kei Green-Rogers on NOTHING PERSONAL: Everything is personal now.

Martine Kei Green-Rogers is a Raymond C. Morales Post-Doctorate Fellow in the Department of Theatre at the University of Utah and the dramaturg for NOTHING PERSONAL and CLEARING BOMBS this season at Plan-B. NOTHING PERSONAL by Eric Samuelsen takes me on an infuriating ride. Don’t get me wrong; it has nothing to do with the production or even Samuelsen’s crafty use of language. My fury has everything to do with the unfolding of the story and its subsequent emotional roller coaster ride. In order to explain what I mean, and to illustrate how these harsh words are actually a great compliment, I want to rewind in time to the first run I saw of this play (October 6). As the dramaturg on this lovely production, I had the opportunity to sit in on a very early run of the show [after only 6 days of rehearsal]. The director (Jerry Rapier) had just finished preliminary blocking and character work when all the designers were invited in to see the shape of the production thus far. At this run, I found myself with numerous questions about the play and the production. Aware that it was very early in the rehearsal process, I even prefaced my thoughts to Jerry with this quote: “It is sooooo early in this process so take most of these [notes] with a grain of salt. These are just the ruminations of a crazy woman and the journey I went on while watching/ the questions I found myself asking while watching.” “I love Ken’s smugness and calmness -its a nice contrast with Susan’s frenetic energy. Its also sets...

Actor Dee-Dee Darby-Duffin on rehearsing NOTHING PERSONAL

Dee-Dee Darby-Duffin has previously appeared in Plan-B’s THE THIRD CROSSING and SLAM. “I think it might be challenging for you to play a role where you don’t get to speak,” said Jerry [when he offered me the role of the Matron in NOTHING PERSONAL]. I, of course, thought this to be extremely funny, since I am known for being loquacious. I soon found out he was serious and the most challenging part is NOT that I don’t have anything to say but that I have so much to say. So much I should say and don’t say ANYTHING. I admit I had to reach deep down to find empathy for a middle-class white woman who is unjustly imprisoned. I mean big freaking whaaaa! Yet this play should not – and is not – filtered through my almost-ever-present lens of race. This play is about power – those who have it get to do whatever they want to those who do not. When that happens, you are bound to feel empathy for the underdog. Lest I get too preachy (pun intended), what I really love about live theater is the process. I love working in small frosty theaters [the heat has been off in the Studio Theatre since rehearsal began], inside jokes, meltdowns, tantrums, snide remarks, deep-down belly laughter, nicknames, frank discussions, reminiscing, openness and breakthroughs…a playwright’s words on paper interpreted and brought to life by some of the most creative creatures on the planet. It is indeed about the journey. Eric Samuelsen’s NOTHING PERSONAL receives its world premiere at Plan-B Theatre Company October 24-November 3 with Kirt Bateman, Dee-Dee...

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