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... read more

Playwright Carol Lynn Pearson on creating CARAVAN, part of the 2015 Parliament of the World’s Religions

CARAVAN by Carol Lynn Pearson receives its world premiere as a Script-In-Hand Series reading as part of the global Parliament of the World’s Religions on Friday, October 16 at 3:45pm, bringing people of faith together to work for a more just, peaceful and sustainable world. The first Parliament of Religions was held at the 1893 Chicago Columbian Exposition, and was the first formal meeting of the religious East and West. In 1988 the Council for a Parliament of the World’s Religions (CPWR) was founded to organize a centennial celebration of the original Parliament. Since 1993, four Parliaments have been held in Chicago, Cape Town, Barcelona and Melbourne. The 2015 Parliament is here in Salt Lake City October 16-19, 2015. There’s a great big Family Quarrel going on today. Worldwide. Impossible to miss. Many of the children of Father Abraham and the two mothers, Sariah and Hagar, are battling it out. Some of the adherents of these three great world religions—Judaism, Christianity and Islam—clearly have forgotten the wonderful heritage that unites us and instead focus on differences, on ancient hatreds, on property rights, and even ownership of God. Wars seems not to solve it. Negotiations have yet to bring peace. An old Jewish says it all: “An enemy is someone whose story you do not know.” Long ago I memorized words by a devotee of drama that might surprise you, Brigham Young: “If I were placed on a cannibal island and given the task of civilizing its people, I would straightway build a theatre for the purpose.” And he did build a theatre—the fabulous and famous Salt Lake Theatre. Story is magic. And theatre is magic.... read more

Playwright Matthew Ivan Bennett on creating RADIO HOUR EPISODE 10: OTHERWHERE for the 2015/16 Season

RADIO HOUR EPISODE 10: OTHERWHERE by Matthew Ivan Bennett receives its world premiere in a co-production with KUER’S RadioWest on October 30, 2015 featuring Doug Fabrizio and Jay Perry, with original music by Dave Evanoff, directed by Cheryl Cluff. This is the only thing that will be written about this year’s 10th anniversary episode of RADIO HOUR—we’re hoping for a WAR OF THE WORLDS moment, so we have to tell you somewhere, at least once, that it’s not real. During my undergrad days, a favorite late-night pastime of mine was listening to AM radio talk shows. Particularly, I liked listening to Coast-to-Coast AM, with fringe topics ranging from UFOs to dreams to free energy devices. Actually, the title of my first play came from Coast-to-Coast AM, when host Art Bell asked everyone to “send white light to Terrence.” He meant Terrence McKenna, the psychedelic researcher. I didn’t write a play about him, but I jotted down WHITE LIGHT OF TERRENCE and that sparked the idea for a play about a young man who has visions. The entertainment value of Coast-to-Coast is that, even if you don’t believe a word some guest is saying, it’s obvious that he believes it. And that’s very scary to contemplate sometimes. For instance, one of my all-time favorite shows was when Art Bell opened a line specifically for the Anti-Christ. He got several of them—and some of them sounded…well, convincing. They may have merely been good actors, or people with personality disorders, but they seemed to believe themselves. When Jerry and Cheryl approached me with the idea of writing a fictional guest for Doug Fabrizio’s... read more

Playwright Rob Tennant on creating BOOKSMART for the 2015/16 Season

BOOKSMART receives its world premiere December 3-13, 2015 in partnership with The David Ross Fetzer Foundation for Emerging Artists, featuring Tyson Baker, Anne Brings, Joe Crinch, April Fossen and Sarah Young, directed by Jerry Rapier. It took me a lot longer than most people to get a “real” job. Starting in high school, and continuing throughout my 20s into my early 30s, I worked in the service industry. A little retail, but mostly food service. I was a busboy, a waiter, and a restaurant manager. The work was lucrative enough and it fit into my lifestyle of squandering my youth on late nights and a lot of hanging out. It was fun. It was also awful. Customer service is a constant assault on human dignity. I complained about it. A lot. I complained about the hours. I complained about the pay. I complained about what I perceived as a lack of influence on operations of the business itself. I complained about all kinds of things, but I never actually did anything about any of them. At least nothing productive. I didn’t have the resources. I didn’t have any support. I didn’t even know where to start, and all of that frustration was further demoralizing. So now, I’ve been given the chance to finally do something about it: I’m having actors complain for me, on stage, to a paying audience. Progress! Seriously though, these are serious issues. The concept of work in the U.S. is changing, but the need for people to receive just compensation for meaningful work has not changed. The minimum wage has less buying power than ever,... read more

Playwright Elaine Jarvik on creating BASED ON A TRUE STORY for the 2015/16 Season

BASED ON A TRUE STORY by Elaine Jarvik receives its world premiere February 25-March 6, 2016 featuring Colleen Baum, Jason Bowcutt, Mark Fossen and Nell Gwynn, directed by Cheryl Cluff.  The tiny seed for this play was a photo that my friend Andra Harbold sent me several years ago of a woman wearing aviator goggles. Write a play, she said. And so I began to think about the woman. Where was she going? And why? And the more I thought about her, the more I wondered why she wasconsumed by so many doubts. And I wondered what she looked to for comfort. By then, of course, I was talking about myself. I wondered what would happen if a worried person could travel to the future to see how her life turned out. I wondered why I can sit every Sunday in the church I attend and never be convinced of the big story everyone else believes. So this play is a journey about time and faith, a play where I’m trying to work those questions out. I’ve been fascinated with the notion of time travel ever since reading Robert Silverberg’s “Up the Line” several decades ago. His journeys were to the past, as most time travel fiction is. But I preferred thinking about what would happen if you ended up in the future, caught in a time that wasn’t your own, a refugee of sorts. Of course we’re all trapped in the time we live in, and I wanted to explore that too. I’m excited to see this play come to life under the imaginative direction of Cheryl Cluff. And I’m... read more

Playwright Jenifer Nii on creating KINGDOM OF HEAVEN for the 2015/16 Season

KINGDOM OF HEAVEN, with book & lyrics by Jenifer Nii and music & lyrics by Dave Evanoff, receives it world premiere March 31-April 10, 2016. Subscribe to the full season for only $70! Social media is a dangerous thing, and one never knows when the right/wrong people are watching. KINGDOM OF HEAVEN is proof. In a moment of impulsiveness, after evening spent binge-watching a reality television show about drag queens, I posted on my Facebook page something to the effect that “I wanna write a musical.” There was something so joyful about the television show, something surprisingly captivating about its courageous, stunningly creative contestants; something incredibly inspiring about their stories of discovery, determination, pain, and strength. It made me happy, this show. I loved the spectacle, marveled at the way those men transformed themselves into such a heightened state of femininity, and was fascinated how that process helped fulfill the contestants in such personal, individual ways. It had a triumphant, celebratory, inclusive feel to it, which was so refreshing and invigorating and nearly the opposite of what I’d been seeing in the community I live in. Gender issues are still very hot to the touch here, the heartland of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. In the last few years, women (and men) have been disciplined in an unprecedentedly-public arena for questioning their roles, for organizing to challenge everything from dress codes to women’s participation in leadership and religious rites. In January 2015, high-ranking leaders of the Church gave a rare press conference on gender identity. Elder Dallin H. Oaks acknowledged the Church is now striving to address the pantheon of... read more

Plan-B’s Silver Anniversary

Click here to read QSaltLake’s profile of the past 24 years and our upcoming 2015/16, 25th Anniversary Season! 2010-2015 Click here to read The Utah Review’s wrap-up of our 2014/15 Season. Click here to read The Utah Review’s wrap-up of our 2013/14 Season. Selective Echo’s wrap-up of our 2012/13 season (coming soon). Selective Echo’s wrap-up of our 2011/12 season (coming soon). Selective Echo’s wrap-up of our 2010/11 season (coming soon). 2000-2010 Click here to read Producing Director Jerry Rapier’s history of Plan-B’s second decade (published in 2010 for our 20th anniversary). 1991-2000 Click here to read Managing Director Cheryl Ann Cluff’s history of Plan-B’s first decade (published in 2010 for our 20th anniversary). Awards & Archives Click here to see a list of awards received since 2000 (including 50 Best of Utah ARTs Awards from City Weekly) and click here for archives of every production since 1991 with photo slideshows of (nearly) every one! Radio Hour Click here for the entire 10-episode history (including podcasts)! Subscribe at read more

Are you (or a do you know) a playwright under 35?

Click here for details on our call for submissions, in partnership with The David Ross Fetzer Foundation for Emerging Artists, deadline October 1! Just remember: it doesn’t have to be complete; it just needs to show promise and we need to see you know where you’re headed – part of the award is working with our Lab playwrights on the script. The first play produced through this partnership, MAMA by Carleton Bluford, is currently nominated for City Weekly’s Best in Utah ARTs Awards for “Best Local Theatre Production” and “Best Original Play.” The second play produced through this partnership, BOOKSMART by Rob Tennant, opens December 3. Will your play be next? In memory of our dear friend David Fetzer, who created roles in Plan-B’s productions of THE END OF THE HORIZON, THE SCARLET LETTER and THE THIRD CROSSING.    ... read more

Randy Rasmussen’s Set Design Legacy

THE END OF THE HORIZON (2008) Full image ADAM & STEVE AND THE EMPTY SEA (2013) Full image ANIMAL FARM (2004) Full image CHRISTMAS WITH MISFITS (2014) Full image SUFFRAGE (2013) Full image HEDWIG AND THE ANGRY INCH (2003) Full image FACING EAST (2006, 2007) Full image BORDERLANDS (2011) Full image THE TRICKY PART (2008) Full image EXPOSED (2007) EXPOSED (2007) MESA VERDE (2011) Full image HEDWIG AND THE ANGRY INCH (2012) Full image BLOCK 8 (2009) Full image THE ALIENATION EFFEKT (2007) Full image DI ESPERIENZA (2009) Full image RADIO HOUR EPISODE 5: ALICE (2009) Full image AMERIGO (2010) Full image THE SCARLET LETTER (2012) Full image WALLACE (2010) Full image MACBETH (1991) Full image PATIENT A (2005) Full image MAMA (2015) Full image CLEARING BOMBS (2014) Full image LADY MACBETH (2011) Full image MOLLY SWEENEY (2000) Full image PILOT PROGRAM (2015) Full image THE THIRD CROSSING (2012) Full image NOTHING PERSONAL (2013) Full image THE LARAMIE PROJECT (2001) Full image HEDWIG AND THE ANGRY INCH (2005) Full image THE WAR OF THE WORLDS (2002) Full image TRAGEDY: a tragedy (2005) Full image A/VERSION OF EVENTS (2015) Full image AMERIKA (2006) Full image SHE WAS MY BROTHER (2010) Full image MIASMA (2006) Full image A PLACE IN THE SKY (2000) Full image BASH: LATTER-DAY PLAYS (2003) Full image 3 (2014) Full image   Randy Rasmussen designed his first Plan-B set for MACBETH in 1991, the second-ever Plan-B production. He worked on and off with Plan-B over the next nine years and has designed nearly every set since 2000. Although he’s departing Salt Lake City on Sunday for an exciting... read more

City Weekly’s Best of Utah ARTs Awards (formerly Arty Awards, formerly Slammy Awards)

BEST OF UTAH ARTS Salt Lake City Weekly 2015 BALLOT …we’re nominated! MAMA …on getting nominated. MAMA Pictured: Dee-Dee Darby-Duffin. A/VERSION OF EVENTS …on getting nominated. A/VERSION OF EVENTS Pictured: Latoya Rhodes. PILOT PROGRAM …on getting nominated. PILOT PROGRAM Pictured (l to r): Susanna Florence Risser, April Fossen, Mark Fossen We at Plan-B Theatre are bursting at the seams to have have been nominated again this year for Salt Lake City Weekly’s Best of Utah Arts Awards! – Best Local Theatre Production: MAMA by Carleton Bluford – Best Original Play (all three slots went to Plan-B plays): MAMA by Carleton Bluford, A/VERSION OF EVENTS by Matthew Ivan Bennett and PILOT PROGRAM by Melissa Leilani Larson Although we have been nominated every year since 2000 and won 49 previous awards, this is the first year we have swept a category. And it never ceases to be exciting and humbling. Please click here to vote by August 24 to help us win our 50th City Weekly Best of Utah Arts Award! You’ll need to vote in 3 categories so we recommend voting for Latoya Rhodes (who appeared in MAMA and A/VERSION OF EVENTS) for Best Theatre Performance for Wasatch Theatre Company’s THE COLOR... read more

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