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Brandeis University's Community Newspaper — Waltham, Mass.

Director of FPTC premiere speaks to Hoot

Published: September 29, 2006
Section: Arts, Etc.

This week, I had the chance to sit down and speak with Katie Nadworny 09, the director of the Free Play Theatre Cooperatives first production, Summer Evenings in Des Moines by Charles Mee.

Hoot: Why did you choose to direct this play?

Katie Nadworny: I knew I wanted to direct something and I knew I didnt want to do a traditional play. I started perusing the Charles Mee website and I read this one, and I liked it a lot. I liked Big Love when the BTC did it, so I thought this would be kind of cool. I knew about the Gluck lobby before I read the play because some friends and I had decided to look for alternate theatre spaces, and I really liked the way the play and the space went together.

Hoot: Usdans Gluck lobby is an unusual choice for a theatrical venue. How have rehearsals been going?

KN: Its been a lot of fun. I know my actors were a little skeptical at first, but theyve come over to my side. When youre first like, Oh, I got into a play, and its being performed in the Gluck lobby, it sort of seems less legitimate, but I chose this space. Its been fun playing in this space, figuring out what we have, what we can use to create things. Its fun. It makes your brain go in different directions, which is a good thing.

Hoot: How would you describe Summer Evenings to someone unfamiliar with it?

KN: This isnt a very easy show to describe, which I had a lot of trouble with around audition time when people would ask, Whats your play about? Its not a traditional play, there are so many tangents in it, theres a scene and then suddenly theres a square dance If I was to give you any sort of plot description, Id say its about these people who decide to leave mainstream society and come to this other carnival-like place where they try and make connections with each other. Theyre all sort of outsiders from society or have come into conflict with whats considered normal. Now these characters have to figure out how they fit into the scheme of things.

Hoot: Summer Evenings will be the first production of the newly-formed Free Play Theatre Cooperative. What are your thoughts on this new group whose premiere you are directing?

KN: I think its fantastic. I love Free Play. My friend Allison [Vanouse 09] and I were frustrated with theatre opportunities at Brandeis, so we talked to Eric Hill [chair of THA], and he said, Well, its funny you should come to me, because Josh Mervis [08] and Brian Paternostro [07] are starting this new thing. We thought this was just fantastic, so we got in touch with them and they were excited that we were into it. I knew I wanted to direct, so they told me, Find a play, and well go from there. There are a lot of people on campus, I think, who view it with hostility and see it as competing. It probably will be competing for actors, but its doing a different thing than the UTC is. I like the flexibility to try out different things, to do different things. Being able to say, Hey, I want to do this play, I have these ideas, I want to take some risks and do it in the Gluck lobby, and for them to say, Yeah, thats cool, I think thats amazing.

Hoot: You actually possess a substantial amount of directing experience from high school. What was one of your directorial highlights from before Brandeis and how do your experiences there connect to your work on this show?

KN: I started directing as a sophomore in high school, and I did nine projects over those three years. The last thing I did my senior year of high school was this version of Alice in Wonderland that was created by an avant-garde theatre group called The Manhattan Project. It was a crazy, crazy thing: 6 actors, no set, and the actors were all the characters;

they were the mushrooms, they were the croquet set. It was awesome. It was very physical, it was a lot of spinning, throwing, running around;

it was very cool. I wanted to build off of that and do something that wasnt focused on sets and was more focused on creating the plays world physically. I love the sort of craziness of taking crazy ideas, putting them in and making them work. I told my cast when we first came together, If you have any crazy ideas or impulses, tell me and I can try and fit them into the play. When we were all sitting around waiting for someone at rehearsal one day, someone asked, Hey, do these windows open? I said, Yeah, I was walking by the other day and saw them open, I was wondering if anyone could fit through them so we could use them as an entrance. Two minutes later, the whole cast is trying to climb through the windows.

Hoot: What productions are you looking forward to seeing this semester?

KN: I have a couple friends in The Physician of his Honor and I think Eric Hill is great, I loved The Bacchae last year, so Im looking forward to that. And obviously, everything in Free Play Im excited about Im probably going to see them all, Ill tell you what Im excited about after I see them.

Hoot: The Gluck is a very small space. How many people will be able to squeeze into the audience and what are your performance dates?

KN: I know we can definitely fit 24 people, were going to try to fit about thirty. We are going to do three, possibly four shows;

Im trying to get one for Sunday night. We will be performing Oct. 19 through Oct. 22 if we do add the Sunday performance. All the performances will be at night.