Eric Samuelsen

Tributes to Eric Samuelsen Everything Eric ever wrote for the Plan-B BlogEric’s ObituaryTribute: Association of Mormon LettersTribute: City WeeklyTribute: KUER’s RadioWestTribute: Sunstone Magazine’s podcastTribute: The Salt Lake TribuneTribute: The Utah Review No one has ever fit my voice as an actor and human like you. If I could spend the rest of my life just doing Eric Samuelsen theatre, I would be a happy, content, and a much-better-than-I-actually-am actor. My career-defining moment as an actor (personally) came with BORDERLANDS. I don’t think I’ve been better. I know that I never felt more connected to a character. Thank you. A close runner-up is CLEARING BOMBS. Thank you for Mr. Bowles. NOTHING PERSONAL remains a bewilderment of “How did we do that?” and although I didn’t understand AMERIGO as much as I would have liked, I have to admit the pure thrill of just saying anything you write. If I never step out in front of the lights again, I will still feel like I got the juiciest, most delicious roles in the four Eric Samuelsen productions I was blessed to do. Truthfully, my performances in your plays were really your creation. I simply had to open my mouth and remember my blocking. “To my gentle giant: Good night, sweet {hilarious, intelligent, poetic, amazing} prince; and flights of angels sing thee to thy rest.”– Kirt Bateman, who created roles in AMERIGO, BORDERLANDS, NOTHING PERSONAL and CLEARING BOMBS I am so thankful to have had the opportunity to know you and be a part of bringing your wonderful plays to life. I’ll never forget the first time I read BORDERLANDS, specifically when I got to...

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 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...

Eric Samuelsen bids farewell to the #SeasonOfEric

Eric Samuelsen has written for Plan-B Theatre Company for a decade where, in addition to the #SeasonOfEric, his plays MIASMA, AMERIGO and BORDERLANDS also received their world premieres. It’s very rare for a fully professional American theatre company to devote time and resources to new work by local playwrights. It’s exponentially rarer for companies to do entire seasons devoted to the work of a single playwright. I expect, rarest of all, would be for companies to market that season using the playwright’s first name. So: the Season of Eric. And I’m Eric; apparently sufficiently known (or at least notorious) to warrant not just a season of my work, but a marketing campaign based on my first name. It’s immensely flattering and a tremendous honor. Obviously, the greatest five events in my life were when I married Annette, and when each of our four children were born. I’m not kidding when I say this: The Season of Eric comes sixth. We started off with GHOSTS. My PhD dissertation was on Henrik Ibsen, most of my scholarly publications were on Ibsen; I’m an Ibsen guy. And I can say this unequivocally; I love GHOSTS. And of course the ending of the play is powerfully and movingly tragic. But I’ve seen GHOSTS in production many times, and I’ve always felt there was something essential missing. Humor. Dour old Ibsen, the stuffy Victorian moralist. As I translated the play, I kept cracking up; I loved Ibsen’s subversive satirical wit. In our Script-In-Hand Series production, we only had a few days to rehearse, but it was so thrilling to hear laughs in the house....

Cheryl Ann Cluff on diving into Eric Samuelsen's 3

Cheryl Ann Cluff is directing Eric Samuelsen’s 3 as part of the #SeasonOfEric.  She is the Managing Director of Plan-B Theatre Company, which she co-founded in 1991.  She has designed sound for nearly every Plan-B production since 2000 and has directed MESA VERDE, THE SCARLET LETTER and SUFFRAGE, as well as every episode of RADIO HOUR, most recently EPISODE 8: FAIRYANA, also by Eric Samuelsen. If you chance to meet a frown, Do not let it stay. Quickly turn it upside down and smile that frown away. No-one likes a frowning face. Change it to a smile. Make the world a better place by smiling all the while. This song, for those who don’t know, is a song called “Smiles,” and it is taught to young children in the LDS Church. I sang it many, many times, a long time ago in what feels like a galaxy far, far away.  And now I have been singing it in my head pretty much every day for the last couple months. To me “Smiles” illustrate, as 3 playwright Eric Samuelsen stated so well in his blog posting last week, how “Mormonism can be obsessed with public relations, with how things seem, with appearances.” It also helps explain how members of this church are sometimes guided towards a path of hyper perfectionism at a very young age, especially the women. And I think it does partially come from church doctrine and many times from women themselves who apply a lot of pressure on each other. I found an amazing transcript of a KSL-TV one-hour documentary that was published by Sunstone Magazine. It’s...

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