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Laura Ekstrand, Artistic Director of Dreamcatcher Rep in Summit, New Jersey, explores what it means to make art and culture in New Jersey. Join her for smart, thoughtful conversations with local actors, playwrights, directors, and arts professionals.

Season Three 

September 2020 | Season 3; Episode 2: David Lee White: It's My Medium
In this episode, Laura is joined by playwright and educator David Lee White. A longtime friend and frequent Dreamcatcher collaborator, David has worked with theatres and theatre programs across the New Jersey, New York, and Pennsylvania area. And this month with Dreamcatcher, we're thrilled to be virtually premiering David Lee White's audio play Ways to Be Happy.
David and Laura share a warm and lively conversation ”socially distanced on the Dreamcatcher stage” about the challenge of trying to write the current moment, how he first started writing Ways to Be Happy  in grad school and how it was developed since, the welcome respite of taking a laugh break, and what his 10-year-old son thinks of his life and work as a playwright. We're so happy to share this conversation with the wonderful David Lee White and we invite you to join the conversation and tell us what  you do to recharge and find happiness.
September 2020 | Season 3; Episode 1: Deonté Griffin-Quick: Envisioning What's Possible
In this first episode of Season 3, actor, singer, arts administrator, and advocate Deonté Griffin-Quick joins Laura. Hear Deonté discuss how he made his way into arts administration, how he uses his voice to advocate for diversity and equity in the arts, and how important it is for him to continue flexing his creativity as a performer.

Season Two

September 2019 | Season 2; Episode 1: Betsy True: Art Informs Art Informs Art
On the season 2 premiere of Local, Laura sits down with powerhouse of the New Jersey theatre scene Betsy True. Betsy talks her love of working on new plays, the importance of respect and trust in artistic collaboration, and all of the many ways her artistic expression comes to life, now and throughout her career -- directing, teaching, singing, writing, and more. Don't miss this thoughtful, intimate conversation!
October 2019 | Season 2; Episode 2: Emaline Williams: Tilling the Garden
Emaline Williams is a charming, smart presence you can find in theaters all over New York and New Jersey, including at Dreamcatcher Rep and Centenary Stage Company, as well as in film and commercials. Hers is a face you see around Dreamcatcher Rep a lot — helping us run smoothly behind the scenes and lighting up our stage in some of this season’s upcoming programming. Learn more about her story as a young actor in New Jersey, the pros and cons of joining the union early, and all of the sleep she doesn’t get while pursuing a life in the theatre.

Learn more about Emaline:

November 2019 | Season 2; Episode 3: Jeff Ertz: The Art of Throwing Pickles
Jeff Ertz is a NJ-based singer-songwriter, who has been featured on ABC’s ‘A Million Little Things,’ NPR’s ‘Reveal,’ as well as right here, because he composed the theme song for Local. In this episode of Local, Jeff tells the story of his music, and how he found his way into a creative and technology-driven career in post-production. He wears many hats and has gained experience and expertise in a variety of production and post-production roles, including editing documentaries, post-supervising feature films, sound design, sound mixing, and more.  Hear how storytelling is the thing that drives everything he does, and how making music keeps him sane.

Learn more about Jeff:


Music by Jeff Ertz & John Todd

February 2020 | Season 2; Episode 4: Nicole Callender: Mind, Heart, and Body
This month Laura sits down with Nicole Callender—stunt coordinator, stuntwoman, intimacy coordinator, and actress—for a fascinating and inspiring conversation. Hear how the past 25 years have led Nicole to this unique moment in her career and family life, how she shows up for all aspects of her life—and how acting feels like coming home. 
March 2020 | Season 2; Episode 5: Julian Blake Gordon: Big Stupid Choices
This month Laura sits down with Julian Blake Gordon, an actor, classical pianist, and writer. Hear how Julian went from despising theatre to being a professional actor, how he experiences being a musician versus being an actor, and the importance of finding  community and collaboration as an artist.
May 2020 | Season 2; Episode 6: Steve Harper: When I grow up I want to be BUSY
In this episode of Local, Laura turns to Zoom for a conversation with her college pal Steve Harper.
Steve is a producer on the CBS show God Friended Me, a co-producer on the HBO Max series Tell Me Your Secrets, and writer and creator of the original web series Send Me.
They discuss his work acting, writing, networking, and building connections and brand. They delve deep into the differences between writing for TV and writing for the stage, and discuss his side passion for life coaching. 
Learn more about Steve at
Music by Jeff Ertz & John Todd
June 2020 | Season 2; Episode 7: George Maull: Connect to the Music
In the final episode of season 2, Laura is joined via Zoom by George Marriner Maull, Artistic Director of the Discovery Orchestra. Maestro Maull is a conductor, violist, television host, and music educator.
Laura and Maestro Maull have an illuminating conversation on a range of topics, including  how he founded the Discovery Orchestra and why the orchestra is so committed to teaching audiences the listening skills to viscerally connect to classical music. They touch on the history of recorded music, the current state of live performance, and their hopes for the future.
Music by Jeff Ertz & John Todd

Season One Episodes

September 2018 | Episode One: Playwright James McLindon on 'Dead and Buried,' playwriting, and theater
This month, in the premiere episode of Local, Laura sits down with playwright James McLindon to talk about his dark comedy Dead and Buried, which the Detroit Free Press calls “funny, sad and heartwarming, often at the same time.” McLindon discusses some of the inspirations for his play, as well how he thinks about his work as a playwright and theater in general.  
Here's more on the study Laura mentions about theater and the synchronization of heartbeats:’-hearts-synchronise-during-performances
October 20, 2018 | Episode Two: Lulu French on Teaching and Performing Improv Comedy
Hear Laura's conversation with New Jersey actor, improviser, and small business owner Lulu French. Lulu shares what it takes to teach and perform improv comedy -- to children, to adults, and to businesses -- and she brings out some of her go-to comedic characters.
Find Lulu at and her business at
November 25, 2018 | Episode Three: Michael Aquino: Building A Creative Life
In the third episode of Local, Laura sits down with the multi-talented Michael Aquino, a musician, actor, and creative audio producer from Northern New Jersey. They discuss some of his latest projects and how his creative career has evolved over time. Be sure to listen to the end when Aquino performs an original song.
February 3, 2019 | Episode Four: Jessica Joyce on Art through the Lens of Synaesthesia
Visual artist Jessica Joyce joins Laura Ekstrand for a conversation about making art through the lens of Synaesthesia, a neurological condition that for Jessica means she can hear sound and also see the line and shape of its tambour. Hear how this sensory experience of the world affects Jessica's art, including the story of her amazing collaboration with dancers at UNRULY Collective.
March 21, 2019 | Episode Five: Dave Maulbeck on Art, Improv, and How to Play a Pony
Laura welcomes longtime Dreamcatcher company member Dave Maulbeck for a chat about his many artistic talents: acting, improv, comic books, and getting paid thousands of dollars to eat a hot dog.
Dave explains the impetus for co-creating The Kinetix, a comic book series centering around teenage superheroes with disabilities, and he talks about how his love of visual art influences all that he does, including acting. Enjoy the intimacy and fun of this conversation between these friends who have been making moments on stage together for 20 years.
April 21, 2019 | Episode Six: Clark Carmichael: How To Be A Consummate Actor
This month on Local - Laura sits down with her good friend, Clark Carmichael. They talk about his acting and directing methods, casting adventures, and raising a family. It’s a fascinating peek into the world, art and industry of working actors.

May 13, 2019 | Episode Seven: Lia Romeo & Erin Mallon: I am Playwright Hear Me Roar
For the Local Season 1 finale Laura is joined by two guests, Lia Romeo and Erin Mallon, both of whom are NJ playwrights. This three-woman conversation is a fun exploration of the play creation process, being a mom and an artist, and what led them both to the artform.


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Dreamcatcher Repertory Theatre

Oakes Center • 120 Morris Avenue • Summit, NJ 07901

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