Saturday night, Plan B Theatre Company in Salt Lake announced their next season; the 2013/14 season. It’s a season of plays by, well, me. Here’s a link to their website for details about season tickets and stuff.
It’s insane, humbling. There it is, right there on the website, ‘a season dedicated to works by Eric Samuelsen.’ It’s a tremendous honor, and a monumental trust, for Jerry Rapier and Cheryl Cluff to take a chance on me like this.
So okay: what are the plays? This is shameless self-promotion, obviously, but I am hoping we sell some tickets and I’m hoping friends, at least, will come see the shows. So, very briefly, the plays:
First up: Nothing Personal (Oct. 24-Nov.3). During the dark hours of Kenneth Starr’s Whitewater investigation, Susan McDougal, wife of Jim McDougal (who ran the S&L at the heart of the controversy), refused to testify before Starr’s grand jury. The main Clinton accuser, David Hales, had testified that she’d had an affair with Clinton. She hadn’t, but was afraid of being charged with perjury if she said that under oath. And so she was imprisoned for eighteen months for contempt of court. Put in solitary confinement, in fact, on death row.
I started there, with the Susan McDougal case. But when I wrote the play, the various Bush administration violations of civil liberties and human rights were in the news. I felt the play should expand its scope, talk about larger issues: the war on Terror, torture, detention. So the characters are simply called ‘Susan’ and Kenneth,’ no last names; it’s more a play about the nightmarish atmosphere of our recent history than specific politic events of the late ’90s. We’ll see how it works.
Next: Fairyana (Dec. 3). A radio show, which will be performed live while also being broadcast on KUER. It’s a play about a children’s television program, and the hardened, alcoholic, violent, cynics who write it. The radio show is very noire-ish in style. There’s a murder at one point. I’m going for the funny here; the cast is terrific.
Clearing Bombs (Feb. 20-March 4) is a play that just got a lot more topical this week, with British historian Niall Ferguson’s recent comments suggesting that the economic theories of John Maynard Keynes should be discounted because he was gay. In fact, my play is about Keynes, and Friedrich Hayek, and the night, in 1942, the two economists spent on the roof of King’s College Chapel in Cambridge, tasked with clearing away German incendiary bombs.
So what did they talk about? No one knows. But I thought it probable that they talked about their academic discipline. I added a third character, Mr. Bowles, a fire warden, basically so the conversation wouldn’t turn so hopelessly technical audiences wouldn’t be able to follow it. So, yeah, it’s a play about economic theory. As a playwright, you have to give audiences what they want, and what theatre audiences are clamoring for today is hard-core macro-economics. Clamoring, I say. An amazing cast will help: Mark Fossen as Keynes, Jay Perry as Hayek, and Kirt Bateman as Mr. Bowles.
So, yeah, the risk is that it’ll be dull. Ninety minutes of economists arguing economics–shoot me now. I get that. But you can’t say it’s not relevant today; what with the US and international economies all struggling. My biggest fear is that this rap video will end up having said everything I want the play to, only shorter and funnier.
Finally, 3 (March 27-April 6). That’s 3; that’s the title. Three short plays, each with a cast of three women, in which Mormon women confront their own culture. The three plays: Bar and Kell, in which an abused young woman becomes the ‘ward project.’ Community Standard, in which a jury tries to determine the community standard for obscenity, and one of the jury members confronts the dark secret at the heart of her marriage. And Duets, in which a decision by a straight young woman to marry her gay best friend has tragic consequences. I’m sort of hoping my friends at Mormon Feminist Housewives will try to catch it.
Plan B will also do a script-in-hand reading of my play Miasma, which they premiered a few years ago, but which they want to take another look at. In addition, they’re doing another script-in-hand reading of my translation of Henrik Ibsen’s masterpiece, Ghosts.
So, if you live in Salt Lake County (or close enough to drive up), come see some plays. We’ll hang out. This is seriously a tremendous honor. Plan B Theatre company is, IMHO, the best theatre company in Utah, and of the best in the West. An entire theatre company almost entirely devoted to new plays by local playwrights. Astonishing. Foolhardy. Brave. It’s going to be an exciting year.