Austin Archer on creating our third subscription offering: JUMP

Austin Archer’s play JUMP is the current recipient of the Plan-B Theatre grant from The David Ross Fetzer Foundation for Emerging Artists and is the third subscription offering of our 2017/18 Season (our 27th! – click here for tickets and subscription info – performances April 5-15). Most recently, Austin contributed “Swipe Right” and “Swipe Left” to Plan-B’s (IN)DIVISIBLE and directed IN THE HEIGHTS for Good Company Theatre. His play THICK METAL BALL was produced at Weber State University. As an actor, he has appeared onstage at GCT, Utah Rep, SLAC and PTC.  How will you die? Will you see it coming? What if you’re given a second chance? JUMP explores the impact of survival on those we love. A co-production with Flying Bobcat Theatrical Laboratory. I’ve been writing songs for over a decade (music catalog here). It started slowly when I was in high school. I’d finish a song every few months or so, and I was never pleased with the result. I wanted to be a great songwriter like Bob Dylan or Elliot Smith. I believed that if I kept it up I’d eventually get better at it. And while that was true, I thought I’d get better after ten or twenty songs. In reality, I don’t think I started to get decent until I’d written maybe 100. By then I was in college and finishing a new song about every other week. I’d adjusted my methods, I’d grown as a guitarist and lyricist, but I still wasn’t where I wanted to be. As time passed my obsession grew deeper. I’d write song after song, most of them only lasting in my...

Jenifer Nii on creating our second subscription offering: THE WEIRD PLAY

Jenifer Nii’s latest play, THE WEIRD PLAY, is the second subscription offering of our 2017/18 Season (our 27th! – click here for tickets and subscription info – performances March 1-11). Jenifer proudly calls Plan-B her creative home. She has previously premiered five plays with the company: KINGDOM OF HEAVEN (the first original musical in our history created with composer and co-lyricist David Evanoff); THE SCARLET LETTER and SUFFRAGE (garnering back-to-back nominations for the American Theatre Critics Association/Steinberg Award for Best New American Play Produced Outside New York); RUFF! (our third annual Free Elementary School Tour); and WALLACE (co-written with Debora Threedy).  Whom do you love? What do you love? How do you love? And why? THE WEIRD PLAY lives in the space between romance and devotion. A co-production with Sackerson. It’s all in the title, I suppose. I just couldn’t think of another way to describe the content or the process of my latest play. It’s all different, and weird. My hope is that it’s a good weird, and not just weird weird. THE WEIRD PLAY began as a challenge to myself: to step outside everything I was comfortable with and everything I’d done before, to face head-on the aspects of theatre that had frightened me in the past. I wanted to experiment with language, to discover whether I could retain my “voice” using another style of expression – and a style I wasn’t seeing presented in theatre at the time. I wanted to utilize the set, light, props, and movement in a way I hadn’t tried before. It’s the first time I’ve scripted in any detailed way a vision of what I wanted...

Eric Samuelsen on creating our season opener THE ICE FRONT

Eric Samuelsen’s latest play, THE ICE FRONT, opens our 2017/18 Season (our 27th! – click here for tickets and subscription info – performances November 9-19). Eric has been writing for Plan-B since 2004. Most recently, he was one of 12 playwrights creating short pieces for the Script-In-Hand Series event (in)divisible. He has previously premiered MIASMA, AMERIGO, BORDERLANDS and THE KREUTZER SONATA (a co-production with NOVA Chamber Music Series) at Plan-B. The company’s entire 2013/14 season, the #SeasonOfEric, was fully dedicated to his work and featured the world premieres of NOTHING PERSONAL, RADIO HOUR EPISODE 8: FAIRYANA, 3 and CLEARING BOMBS, which was nominated for the Pulitzer Prize in Drama. Fluent in Norwegian, Mr. Samuelsen is an Ibsen translator – his translations of A DOLL HOUSE and GHOSTS have been produced as part of Plan-B’s Script-In-Hand Series. His plays have been produced from California to New York. The actors of the Norwegian National Theatre find themselves in an uneasy truce with Nazi cultural authorities during the German occupation of Norway. When they are forced to perform a Nazi propaganda piece, conscience comes face-to-face with The Final Solution. THE ICE FRONT honors the heroism and dangers faced by the trilogy of Nazi victims – Jews, Gypsies and Homosexuals – by questioning what it means to be an artist, to be a patriot, to be human. It has taken me 30 years to write THE ICE FRONT. While living in Norway for three years, I found the story I could use as the vehicle for this celebration in my research files from my doctoral dissertation. In 1990, in the Norwegian National Theatre archives, I discovered the...

Playwright Elaine Jarvik on creating RIVER.SWAMP.CAVE.MOUNTAIN., this year’s Free Elementary School Tour

Elaine Jarvik’s plays BASED ON A TRUE STORY and MARRY CHRISTMAS premiered at Plan-B. Her other plays include DEAD RIGHT (Humana Festival of New Plays) TWO STORIES and [a man enters], Salt Lake Acting Company; THE COMING ICE AGE, PYGmalion Theatre Company; and NOT QUITE RIGHT, Teatro Paraguas. Elaine’s latest play, RIVER.SWAMP.CAVE.MOUNTAIN., created specifically for K-3, will tour as our fifth annual Free Elementary School Tour this fall. Click here for details on bringing RSCM to your school and for details on the October 14 performance as part of RDT’s Ring Around the Rose Series, as well as free performances at seven Salt Lake City Library branches.   Five-year-old JJ (who has lots of questions) and eight-year-old Izzy (a know-it-all who doesn’t know it all) are siblings who have recently lost their grandmother. They embark on a funny and touching hero’s journey to try to make sense of loss, grief, death and life. Featuring Ashley Maria Ramos and Benjamin Young. Designed by Aaron Swenson. Directed by Cheryl Cluff. I volunteer at The Sharing Place, a support group for children who are grieving the death of someone close to them. Perhaps that makes it sound like I’m the kind of person who can walk into a funeral home and not get weak in the knees. But, in fact, I am still at some level a grown-up version of the child who could barely walk past the Funk and Wagnall’s encyclopedias on our hallway bookshelf because one of the “B” entries was “blood.” I grew up in a family of fearful people who were adept at skirting painful topics, and that definitely included death and...

Rob Tennant on his play QUARTER HORSE

Rob Tennant is a member of The Lab at Plan-B, where his play BOOKSMART enjoyed a sold-out run last season. Rob’s play QUARTER HORSE is the next offering of our 2016/17 Script-In-Hand Series this coming Wednesday, March 29, directed by Robert Scott Smith, stage managed by Joe Killian, with Emma Scotson as the Reader and featuring a cast of Olivia Custodio, Sky Kawaiw, Shawn Francis Saunders and Matthew Sincell. The reading is free and at capacity – click here for details. The hardest I’ve ever laughed was on day four of an ill-advised weeklong outdoor adventure. I was one of eight young men camping beside an ankle-deep “river” in the middle of the most remote piece of desert in the USA, days behind schedule with limited food and silt-clogged water filters. Bone-tired from a 12-hour day of slogging through mud with a small boat in which I was supposed to be riding, someone broke the settled quiet gloom with a simple statement. “We’re all going to die out here,” he said. We all laughed until we cried, our guffaws returning to us off of redrock canyon walls for minutes on end. There’s room for comedy in any situation – gallows humor is a powerful thing. A world in which we have run out of oil and are forced to ride bicycles everywhere isn’t necessarily a dystopia for me. To each their own. What terrifies me is the prospect of a future where we’ve done everything wrong and it’s all for naught because we haven’t learned from our mistakes. A world where individual interest continues to be prioritized above communal good. A world where...

Morag Shepherd on her play NOT ONE DROP

Playwright Morag Shepherd makes her Plan-B debut with NOT ONE DROP, receiving its world premiere March 23-April 2. Originally from Scotland, she is the resident playwright at Sackerson, where her plays THE WORST THING I’VE EVER DONE (co-written with Matthew Ivan Bennett and Shawn Francis Saunders), BEFORE THE BEEP, BURN and POPPY’S IN THE SAND have premiered, the latter playing Great Salt Lake and San Diego International Fringe Festivals. I moved around a fair amount as a child. I was born in Scotland, lived in a few different places in England, Scotland again, England again, the east coast of the States, and now here in Salt Lake City. I’m a citizen of the United Kingdom, but now feel more American. Moving around so much as a child, it was hard for me to keep an identity straight. I felt more like I was a mix and melded into the places and people I were around, to the point that I would adopt the accent of whoever I was talking to. Something I still do, because I’m cool like that. I was a member of the LDS faith, believed in god, went on a mission – the whole shebang – and now I’m not sure what I believe. And my point in saying all of that? If there is one thing that I kind of know, that I maybe believe in, it is that people change, places change, ideas and spaces alter, and it all weaves together like a spider web. Consequently, lines and boundaries that are liquid, elusive, and adoptive, are some of the foremost issues I play with in...

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