A show about faith, love and family sounds heavy. What was your connection to Next Fall and what ultimately inspired you to produce it?
Laura: Although I was aware of Next Fall when it was playing in New York, it was Scott McGowan who gave me the script to read after seeing the production. He felt it was perfect for Dreamcatcher’s focus on personal stories, and I agreed wholeheartedly. I think it’s incredibly timely and relevant, not only to our company and our audiences, but to so many issues in society at large right now. It’s also very witty and not at all heavy, though it deals with a lot of serious themes.
Is this a gay play? What’s in it for a straight audience?
Laura: It’s a play for everyone who’s contemplated their belief system and that of their family; it’s also a play for anyone with gay family members or friends. And it’s a play for anyone who loves their kids, loves their partner, or wants a great, entertaining night out at the theatre.
What role, if any, can theatre play in the acceptance of same-sex relationships by people of faith and society in general?
Laura: Theatre has a tremendous ability to promote understanding between people, and that’s one of Dreamcatcher’s goals. Live theatre takes an abstract concept and makes it concrete by showing you specific people up close in highly personal moments. It can humanize issues that would otherwise feel theoretical, and I hope that’s what Next Fall is able to do with issues like same-sex couples, faith, and parent-child relationships. The characters in this play are extremely well-rounded, so I think it’s a great opportunity to learn about people who are not necessarily just like yourself.
What’s the difference between a director and an artistic director? It seems like you are both!
Laura: On this and many other projects, I am both! The job of the artistic director is year-round, and focused on the overall health and activity of the company, while the director of a project focuses exclusively on preparing and guiding the one play. It’s a treat to be able to wear both hats.
|Directing the first table read of Next Fall|
Hollywood applauds straight actors who play gay, but doesn’t believe gay actors who play straight. What’s your experience with this?
Laura: I think the theatre is a much more open place than Hollywood, and has more flexibility in that regard. However, there was a recent conflict in the media where Sean Hayes (starring in Promises, Promises) was criticized for being “too gay” to play a straight role. His Christian co-star, Kristen Chenoweth, publicly came to his defense and is now an outspoken advocate for gay rights. So it’s an ongoing discussion on all fronts.
I heard a rumor that Dreamcatcher is moving. What’s up with that? I like your little theater in the Baird!
Laura: Well, we love it, too, but it’s becoming just a little too little these days. Over the last several years our audiences have really been growing, and to accommodate them we need to find a slightly bigger space. We’re looking for something that will have the same intimate feel, but will allow us to welcome more people to our shows. We’ll definitely stay within a 20-minute radius of our current space, though, so our faithful audience members can still easily find us!
I’m used to seeing Dreamcatcher productions where members of your repertory company make up the majority of the cast. This show is 50-50. Does that require more rehearsal time or a different style of directing?
Laura: I think there’s a shorthand with actors who have worked together extensively before, and an ease. But it’s also wonderful to bring new people into the mix, and that’s how we expand the company. These three actors have all worked with us in various ways in the past, so it’s just drawing them in a little closer to the center of the company. They’re all pros, and all wonderful people, so it’s just as fun to work with them as with any Dreamcatcher cast!
Is Next Fall appropriate for kids? What ages?
Laura: I would say it’s up to the parents to decide whether their kids should attend. For students 13 and up, I think it could be an excellent conversation starter and a way to share thoughts and feelings about the topics discussed in the play. I think most teens are already hearing about and dealing with different views on sexuality and religion every day, and I think this play is a balanced look at these subjects.