Guards at the Taj – Q&A – Stephen Weitz 0

Boulder Ensemble Theatre Company is presenting the regional premiere of  Guards at the Taj by Rajiv Joseph with the tagline: ‘Brotherhood, brutality, beauty, and blood. Lots and lots of blood.”.That is certainly an apt descriptionCharles Isherwood titled his New York Times review of the 2015 Atlantic Theater Company production ‘Guards at the Taj,’ Two Ordinary Guys Ordered to Do the Unthinkable.  BETC tells the story as well as any New York production might. The audience at the Dairy Center sold out opening kept the lobby buzzing discussing what they had just witnessed during the post show reception.

 

I followed up with the director Stephen Weitz via email.

EL: How did you become familiar with Guards at the Taj and what made it the right fit for this BETC season?

SW: Rajiv is a writer I’ve long admired so I was immediately interested when a colleague forwarded me a copy of the script.  We found the script to be everything we look for in a story: profound, funny, strong characterizations, and very timely as well.  A lot of our content this season has to do with difficult conversations and bridging (or not bridging) schisms between loved ones.  With the many difficult conversations happening in our country at the moment, this seemed like a natural fit in that landscape.
EL: This show may be unfamiliar to many, how do you describe it?
SW: It’s a bit difficult to encapsulate the plot without giving away some pretty important spoilers.  But at it’s core, it’s about a deep friendship between two men and how that friendship is tested and ultimately splintered by being caught up in a truly horrible series of events.  It’s challenging and thought provoking (and more than a little gory in places), but it’s also beautiful and sweet and funny.  So I guess I would say, it’s a lot like life.

Sam Gilstrap and Jihad Milhem star in BETC's production of Guards at the Taj by Rajiv Joseph (photography: Michael Ensminger)

Sam Gilstrap and Jihad Milhem star in BETC's production of Guards at the Taj by Rajiv Joseph (photography: Michael Ensminger)
EL: What is the importance of presenting a Regional Premiere for a company like BETC?
SW: We’ve now presented so many (30+), that producing Regional Premieres is just part of our identity.   But it does demonstrate our commitment to scouring the country to find the best new plays and presenting work that our audiences can’t see anywhere else in the area.  It also allows us to give voice to contemporary playwrights who we feel are on the cutting edge and saying important things with their work.

Jihad Milhem and Sam Gilstrap star in BETC's production of Guards at the Taj by Rajiv Joseph (photography: Michael Ensminger)

Jihad Milhem and Sam Gilstrap star in BETC's production of Guards at the Taj by Rajiv Joseph (photography: Michael Ensminger)
EL: Every production has unique challenges and discoveries during rehearsals, what stands out for this production of Guards at the Taj?
SW: This play has some really unique technical challenges.  Without giving away anything, I’ll just say that it has definitely tested our abilities onstage and backstage.  But that’s part of continuing to grow and mature as an organization.  You always have to stretch yourself to keep moving forward.

Boulder Ensemble Theatre Company presents Guards at the Taj

Grace Gamm Theater, Dairy Arts Center

January 25 – February 18, 2018

Click Here For ticket information 

 

Director: Stephen Weitz
Stage Manager: Rick Mireles
Assistant Director: Jenna Moll Reyes
Set Designer: Ron Mueller
Costume Designer: Katie Horney
Lighting Designer: Jacob M. Welch
Sound Designer: Daniel Horney
Fight Director: Benaiah Anderson
Crafts Artisan: Anneke Ciup

Cast

Babur: Jihad Milhem
Hamayun: Sam Gilstrap

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Eden Lane is a freelance journalist based in Denver Colorado

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