Q & A with The Language Archive Director Laura Ekstrand
“The Language Archive” seems to be both dramatic and comedic. Which is it?
Laura: It’s really both. It’s a play that has a lot of different tones, and is both hilarious and heartbreaking at different points. It’s the kind of play that will take you a lot of different places emotionally, and that’s my favorite kind!
Was there something specific that led you to produce this play over the many others you considered for this season?
Laura: Not only did I love the exploration of communication and love from a lot of different angles, but it really fit the company’s aesthetic. We look for plays that are new or very recent, that feel relevant to the lives of our audience, and that have a lot of heart. It’s also very smart, and plays with language in a way that I thought our audiences would appreciate.
The cast is entirely comprised of members from your resident acting ensemble. Was this the plan or just luck? And do you ever cast actors who aren’t in the ensemble?
Laura: Well I begin each season’s selection looking for a good role for everyone in the company. It just so happened that the actors in the company that I thought fit these roles were all available—and that doesn’t always happen! And yes, when that doesn’t happen, or we just plain don’t have the right person within the company, we definitely cast from outside the ensemble.
This is your first time directing at Oakes Center. Did you encounter any challenges or surprises during rehearsals?
Laura: Honestly, the biggest challenge was that it was FREEZING for the first several rehearsals! Eventually, though, we got a thermostat for the theatre that warms up the space separately, and that made all the difference. The other thing that we’re learning to work with is the fact that the stage is incredibly wide, but very shallow. It does lend itself to a lot of different locations, and that came in handy for this show.
Is The Neighborhood appropriate for kids? What ages?
Laura: I think kids aged 12 and up will be entertained, especially by the comedic sections. There is nothing inappropriate for kids in the play, but the romance and the somewhat poetic dialogue won’t tickle the fancy of younger kids.
Director Laura Ekstrand
Laura directing on the set of The Language Archive