From the Artistic Director

I’m exhausted. I’m sure you are too. It’s impossible to keep up with the 24-hour news cycle, social media, hyper-partisan politics and the ever-diminishing line between church and state. On Saturday alone, the federal SCOTUS appointment dovetailed with local opposition to same-sex marriage, trans* rights and even science. It’s maddening to witness people talk about women rather than listen to women. It’s maddening to witness the normalization of racism. It’s maddening to witness the normalization of homophobia. It’s almost impossible to feel powerless as the abhorent becomes the norm. We feel a responsibilty as a company to reflect the community in which we live. And yet I’ve been asking myself: with all that is happening, does attending the theatre even matter? I say yes. Maybe more than ever. Because we are your people. And being with your people is sometimes the only way to catch your breath, slow your heart rate and clear your head. The connection between the audience and what unfolds onstage in a darkened theatre is indescribable. But you know what I mean. You’ve felt it. And if you’re like me, you chase it. Time spent with us should be the beginning of an experience, not the end of one. When the houselights come up, our hope is that you feel seen and heard. Let’s sit in the darkened theatre together and maybe, just maybe, we’ll figure out a way to move forward, together. Jerry Rapier Artistic Director Plan-B Theatre The playwrights of the 2018/19 Subscription Season, Free Elementary School Tour, Script-In-Hand Series and Radio Hourshare their thoughts below on how their work connects to the reality of living in America in 2018. SUBSCRIPTION SEASON GOOD STANDING, October 18-28 Playwright Matthew Greene: We’re living in...

Austin Archer on being the entire cast of GOOD STANDING

Although the world premiere of GOOD STANDING is Austin Archer’s acting debut with Plan-B (October 18-28 in SLC, November 4 at United Solo in NYC),  he’s no stranger to the company. His play JUMP closed last season in a co-production with Flying Bobcat Theatrical Laboratory and his short plays “Swipe Left” and “Swipe Right” were part of (IN)DIVISIBLE the previous season. His recent acting credits include HIR at SLAC and NEWSIES at PTC and Mindhunter on Netflix. I hate to state the obvious, but doing a one person show is hard. Like … harder than doing a show with more than one actor, because instead of three or four people collectively memorizing a full play, it’s just me memorizing lines for sixteen characters. Sixteen! You know what happens if I go up on a line in front of an audience? Well, my co-star doesn’t jump in and give me an ad-libbed prompt to get me back on track, I’ll tell you that much. In this flying trapeze act there’s no safety net, so if I lose my place or go full on deer-in-the-headlights I’m gonna go splat all over that stage and it ain’t gonna be pretty. And obviously I’m not the first person to ever do one of these things; United Solo in NYC has over 100 solo acts playing this year alone. This is just the first time I’ve done this so I’m a little worried at the prospect of watching that hard, unforgiving floor rushing up to meet me should I fall. Another difficulty that’s a bit more specific to this show is finding particular differentiations between my characters who...

Jenifer Nii on her play-in-progress DONNA, opening the 2018/19 Script-In-Hand Series

Jenifer Nii’s play-in-progress DONNA opens the 2018/19 Script-In-Hand Series on October 24 – click here for details and free-but-required tickets. Jenifer has premiered six plays at Plan-B: WALLACE (the first world premiere by an Asian American playwright in Utah history, co-written with Debora Threedy), THE SCARLET LETTER and SUFFRAGE (both nominated by the American Theatre Critics Association/Steinberg Award for Best New American Play Produced Outside New York), RUFF! (our third annual Free Elementary School Tour), KINGDOM OF HEAVEN (music by and co-lyricist Dave Evanoff) and THE WEIRD PLAY (a co-production with Sackerson and a recipient of one of inuagural Writers Alliance grants from the Dramatists Guild Foundation). The deadline was looming and, as usual, I had nothing. It was my turn next to present something in The Lab at Plan-B, and…nothing. Which, if you know me, you know isn’t necessarily unusual in itself. I mostly write frantic, last-second drafts, fueled by panic and adrenaline. That said, I usually have something bouncing around in my brain when I know I’ve got something coming due. Little whispers in the corners of my brain, snippets of characters or nuggets of story. Just not this time. Thank goodness for public radio. One afternoon, our local affiliate carried an interview with a man who’d written about Cervantes’s classic Don Quixote. A new translation had recently hit the shelves as well, so the novel was experiencing a bit of a resurgence. Embarrassingly, I realized that my exposure to the story was limited to an alarming community theatre production of the 1965 musical, and about 20 minutes of the film featuring Peter O’Toole in the titular...

Rachel Bublitz on creating THE FINAL DEBATE for ROSE EXPOSED: BREAKING NEWS

Rachel Bublitz returns to Plan-B, premiering her short play THE FINAL DEBATE as part of ROSE EXPOSED: BREAKING NEWS on August 25. Most recently, she premiered her monologues “Blue” and “Red“ as part of Plan-B’s (IN)DIVISIBLE and CHEERLEADERS VS. ALIENS for YouthTheatre at Park City’s Egyptian Theatre. Whenever I write something with a theme I try and list as many different ideas that could work with the theme as possible. This is a list with as few as ten-ish ideas but sometimes as many as 100. What I really appreciated as an artist when tackling the theme “Breaking News” was how layered it was. “Breaking News” could mean up-to-the-minute information on huge events happening locally and globally, but it can also be a small and personal event; essential information being passed from one human to another, often with the connotation of not being the best news. I knew I wanted to write a short play that was something huge and something small; something global and something deeply personal. Writing a play dealing with school gun violence  wasn’t the first idea on my list, but once it was listed in my notebook I knew I had to try it. THE FINAL DEBATE is one of the most emotionally taxing plays I’ve written. It uses “Breaking News” in both the intimate and public senses, while also (hopefully) being a piece of theater that makes you laugh, makes you think, and maybe cry. I know it made me cry all through writing the first draft. I have two children, and sending them back to their school after one of these horrifying events...

Playwright Jennifer A. Kokai on creating ZOMBIE THOUGHTS

Jennifer A. Kokai has previously written “Bird Brains” for Plan-B’s portion of ROSE EXPOSED: FLIGHT and the monologues “Mitch” and “Janine” for (IN)DIVISIBLE. Jenny is an Associate Professor at Weber State University, where she teaches playwriting. When I was asked to write a play for Plan-B’s Free Elementary School Tour, I immediately turned to the closest elementary expert: my (now) eleven-year-old son.  But Oliver is not a typical elementary-aged kid. He has the verbal comprehension skills of someone in college. As the child of a theatre professor, he has seen Stoppard’s ARCADIA and Ibsen’s HEDDA GABBLER. He’s a sophisticated yet generous audience member. But when we’ve seen plays aimed at folks his age, he is often troubled by simplistic storylines and banal morals. Kids, he tells me, deal with real problems and these plays rarely offer an opportunity to think through a difficult situation or learn how to function better in real life.   Oliver also has learning and emotional disabilities that have challenged me as a parent: there is nothing more heartbreaking than not being able to give your child what he needs. In kindergarten, Oliver exasperated his teachers with incessant questions, impulse control issues, difficulty relating to other children, and disinterest in assigned work and procedures. We changed schools for first grade, but things got worse. The more his teacher criticized him, the more anxious he became about messing up, and the more he messed up. We changed schools for second and third grade: the pattern continued. Oliver began to talk about harming himself and wanting to die. So, outside of work and school, we hid in the house...

11-year-old playwright Oliver Kokai-Means on creating ZOMBIE THOUGHTS

Oliver Kokai-Means makes his professional playwriting debut with ZOMBIE THOUGHTS, Plan-B’s sixth annual Free Elementary School Tour. As an actor he most recently appeared in FUN HOME at Salt Lake Acting Company. My name is Oliver. I am a kid who likes soccer, who likes sports, and who likes and is really good at reading, and video games, and is not what some people would say normal is. Because I have anxiety. My anxiety has caused problems for me because I don’t like being with people I don’t know, so first days are extra hard for me. It has also caused me problems with teachers who don’t understand, and with making friends. Our play ZOMBIE THOUGHTS is about a pig named Pig and a nine-year-old kid named Sam who has anxiety [I was nine when we started writing the play]. They are in a video game and they go on an adventure with different levels and try to beat them, but they have a hard time and they fail most of the time. They try and work on it and then they finally beat a level and then they have to fight The Machine. They technically beat The Machine but it doesn’t go away because you can’t beat anxiety. The audience gets to make a lot of choices in the play, like they’re the ones playing the video game. I identify with Sam. One of the things that happens in anxiety is you get scared of all this stuff, and some of the stuff that you’re scared of doesn’t even exist. Zombie Thoughts are where you do something but...

Pin It on Pinterest