Q&A With Director: Rebecca Remaly 0

Boulder Ensemble Theatre Company has built a strong reputation over the past 10 years or so. Their productions include many of my favorite Colorado theater artists. The quality of the work and approach is of such a high standard that even when a particular script doesn’t resonate with me, I still have respect for the work.

This weekend BETC presents the regional premier of Going to a Place Where You Already Are by Bekah Brunstetter. The many devoted fans of the NBC drama “This Is Us” certainly recognize the playwright as writer and producer of that award winning series. 

After seeing the opening night performance of Going to a Place Where You Already Are (we couldn’t stop talking about it, even through breakfast the next day.) I was able to connect with the director Rebecca Remaly for this Q&A:

(Remaly is also the BETC Managing Director)

Jim Hunt and Anne Sandoe in BETC's 2018 production of Going to a Place Where You Already Are by Bekah Brunstetter (photo: Michael Ensminger)

Jim Hunt and Anne Sandoe in BETC's 2018 production of Going to a Place Where You Already Are by Bekah Brunstetter (photo: Michael Ensminger)

Eden Lane:

What was the genesis of this production of Going to a Place Where You Already Are at BETC?

Rebecca Remaly:

We read the script a couple years ago, when it was commissioned and developed at South Coast Rep. I was drawn to the well-crafted characters, the relatable dialogue, and the way Bekah explored the central themes in the play without taking sides. After the 2016 election, as a company we’ve really started focusing on plays that present different perspectives. Theatre fosters empathy in a way that no other art form can. I’ve really been invigorated by taking a deeper dive into the potential of theatre to put a person in someone else’s shoes and really feel what that’s like.

EL:

The entire production design, sets, lighting, projections, was elegant and simple. That restraint seemed to support the storytelling.  Tell me about that approach.

Anastasia Davidson, Anne Sandoe, and Jim Hunt in BETC's 2018 production of Going to a Place Where You Already Are by Bekah Brunstetter (photo: Michael Ensminger)

Anastasia Davidson, Anne Sandoe, and Jim Hunt in BETC's 2018 production of Going to a Place Where You Already Are by Bekah Brunstetter (photo: Michael Ensminger)

RR:

I wanted to create a world that flowed from one setting to the next, without big scene changes that can sometimes pull the audience out of the story. Time is a big theme throughout the play, and my goal with the scene transitions was to create a feeling of time moving and standing still at the same time. Each individual design element is so cohesive with the others, that it’s hard to tell where the set ends and the projections begin. The sound and lighting function together almost as one element. They all work together to serve the story, and the characters’ journeys. Tina Anderson (set), Jonathan Holt Howard (sound), and Andrew Metzroth (lighting and projections) are a phenomenal, collaborative team to work with!

Anne Sandoe in BETC's 2018 production of Going to a Place Where You Already Are by Bekah Brunstetter (photo: Michael Ensminger)

Anne Sandoe in BETC's 2018 production of Going to a Place Where You Already Are by Bekah Brunstetter (photo: Michael Ensminger)

EL:

Even now, the morning after seeing the show, I’m still not certain of my reaction. How did your views on the questions presented in this play impact the approach to the production?

RR:

Although I have my own personal views on the afterlife questions presented in this play, as a director I saw my job as presenting the play with no slant either way. Or rather, highlighting both possible answers/viewpoints. The script really does walk that thin line between one side and the other. And I wanted to honor that. Was it a hallucination or was it real? The sweater may have just been knocked off by the impact of the door closing. The glasses may just have fallen out of his coat pocket. Or not. I suppose that, in the end, neither side can really know that they are right. They can certainly believe that they are right. As a director, I am compelled to speak for each character’s core beliefs.

The multi-generational themes really spoke to me. My relationship with my grandparents (who are still alive at age 91 and 89) has taken a very similar path as the one portrayed in Going to a Place. How is it that it can be so difficult sometimes to say the things we really want to say to the people we love the most? Those awkward conversations about technology, jobs, life goals, and certainly religion and politics, can be so fraught.

EL:

What else would you like to say about this production?

RR:

Not a lot of modern plays have leading roles for actors in their 70’s. I’ve so enjoyed working with Jim Hunt and Anne Sandoe, and they’ve risen to the challenged and then some. I also relished the challenge of finding a disabled actor who was perfect to play the character of Jonas, and Trenton Schindele came along and blew my socks off.

Trenton Schindele and Anastasia Davidson in BETC's 2018 production of Going to a Place Where You Already Are by Bekah Brunstetter (photo: Michael Ensminger)

Trenton Schindele and Anastasia Davidson in BETC's 2018 production of Going to a Place Where You Already Are by Bekah Brunstetter (photo: Michael Ensminger)

Jim Hunt and Anne Sandoe in BETC's 2018 production of Going to a Place Where You Already Are by Bekah Brunstetter (photo: Michael Ensminger)

Jim Hunt and Anne Sandoe in BETC's 2018 production of Going to a Place Where You Already Are by Bekah Brunstetter (photo: Michael Ensminger)

For Tickets

Going to a Place Where You Already Are
by Bekah Brunstetter
A regional premiere
April 12 – May 6, 2018
Grace Gamm Theater, Dairy Arts Center

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Eden Lane is a freelance journalist based in Denver Colorado

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