Mark Fossen has previously appeared in Plan-B’s EXPOSED, THE ALIENATION EFFEKT, THE SCARLET LETTER and Eric Samuelsen’s AMERIGO, as well as many SLAMs, BANNEDs and Script-In-Hand Series readings.
In the fall of 2008, we had decided to put our house on the market. We were living in Eagle Mountain after moving to Utah from Pennsylvania, and had decided we needed to be closer to Salt Lake because the amount of theatre we were doing was increasing and the long drives to and from downtown rehearsal were wearing on us.
if you remember, the fall of 2008 was perhaps the single worst time in recent memory to try and sell a home. As the bottom fell out of the housing market and the economy, a new podcast launched from NPR called Planet Money. I distinctly remember taking daily walks, listening to episodes detailing the collapse of the economy as terms like “tranche” and “LIBOR” went from a foreign language to familiar terms. It gave comfort, that slight understanding of the global economic forces that were shaping my personal life.
In the mix of all that discussion were constant references to two opposing sides in a debate that was raging as to how governments should react: there were the Keynesians and the Austrian School. One favored government intervention in the form of stimulus, one warned against it. The debate seemingly came up daily, and I sucked down the information about two economists from the early 20th Century who were becoming so central to my personal decision to try and sell my house: John Maynard Keynes and Friedrich Hayek. Planet Money covered the complex material in a compelling way, and I found myself hashing out the debates in my head, trying to decide whose theories offered the best way out of the mess we were in.
Eventually a limited Keynesian stimulus won the day. Eventually I sold my house, and moved to Salt Lake. Eventually we all recovered … or will. The economic and the personal were intertwined, and I think I was far from the only one who learned that lesson in the fall of 2008. At one time, big theories and advanced economics may have seemed like wizardry that ultimately didn’t affect us at the street-level view. We now knew it did affect us, and would continue to do so.
Now, in 2014, I’m well ensconced in my Salt Lake home and thrilled to play my part in bringing this debate to the stage in CLEARING BOMBS. I’m delighted to get the chance to create another role in an Eric Samuelsen play. AMERIGO was such a rich experience because Eric crafted a character in Christopher Columbus for me to play that was neither hero nor villain, but a researched and detailed man. Eric has a gift for doing voluminous research, then weaving it in at such a fundamental level that it becomes the foundation of the character in a way that makes it almost invisible. In CLEARING BOMBS, Eric’s written a passionate work that doesn’t just explain the economic debate we’ve been in but explains why it matters. Two passionate men – I play John Maynard Keynes to Jay Perry’s Friedrich Hayek, with Kirt Bateman’s Mr. Bowles trying to make sense of it all – argue for their view of the world on a rooftop in 1942, and we’re still feeling the effects of their debate to this day.
Plan-B Theatre’s #SeasonOfEric continues with Eric Samuelsen’s CLEARING BOMBS February 20-March 2, 2014, featuring Kirt Bateman, Mark Fossen and Jay Perry, directed by Eric Samuelsen. Click here for tickets and more info.