Q: This is your final season as artistic director for the Paul Bunyan Playhouse. Have you fulfilled your goals?
A: Yes, I have. My three biggest goals were to increase attendance, raise the levels of performance values and also to produce a Shakespeare play. Just this past year, I've discovered a couple of new shows that I wish I could have done here. For the most part I am very happy with the time I've spent here, more time than just one other person, I feel like we did a lot of good work and I don't look at one show and think, "Oh! I wish that had not been there. Every show stood on its own.
Q: Why did you choose "21A" by Kevin Kling for this final season?
A: The last time it was here was in 1987 at Ruttgers and Kevin Kling directed it. It's a fascinating piece of character work and we always try to do a show a season that the audience is not familiar with and perhaps a little more artistically gratifying. What I like about the show is that for those 70 minutes it's just me and our audience and we haven't done that here before. All of the characters are eccentric and a bit troubled except for the bus driver who is the first character in the show and he hops off the bus to get a cup of coffee at Super America and then reappears vocally in between the monologues by the different passengers on the bus: Captain Cold Pack, a missionary, an old woman who just finished grocery shopping, etc. The action of the play takes place within the same 17 minutes - the monologues of the different characters keep looping around because they all interact with each other.
Q: Why "The Full Monty"?
A: I did a production of it with Theater Latté Da at the Ordway. The show is really funny and poignant, I always tell people that if they're not coming out of that show smiling then they need to go see someone because they are in a bad place. The play is about six men unemployed for the past two years; it's about real people, they are not made-up people in any way. People in this audience will relate to being unemployed or parental rights -there are so many themes in it. It's not just about guys taking their clothes off. It's not different from "Gypsy" in that it asks the same question: "How do you do what you need to do to get there?" This is just a show about some guys trying to make a buck. I understand that they'll be people, who will not see it, but what I hope is that for the two people who will not come, there will be two other people who will come to the playhouse for the first time.
3 questions is a Q&A feature by Patt Rall that will be published one Sunday each month to give readers a chance to meet artists from the Bemidji area. Feedback is welcomed via email at email@example.com.