I have had two of the most rewarding experiences of my creative life directing plays by Eric Samuelsen for Plan-B Theatre Company — Amerigo (2010) and Borderlands (2011).
Eric writes with an enviable ease about big ideas — he can be Truthful with a capital T and Intellectual with a capital I, yet still guide his audience to a soulful place, a place of passion, a place where a true marriage of truth and intellect is possible – a place where you have no choice but to take pause, reexamine and choose how best to move forward. He has an uncanny ability to identify the gaps in the recorded history of historical figures and address the “What if?” without resorting to straightforward biography. Simply put, he makes the historical personal.
So when it came time to select the 2013/14 season, I did what I had been considering for quite some time – I invited Eric to be a resident playwright. And then I did something else I had been considering for quite some time – I asked if Plan-B could stage an entire season of his work. I wanted to celebrate his range as a playwright and let some of that been-under-a-bushel-far-too-long work see the light of day. From there, I asked him, of the dozen or so plays and ideas he has in various stages of completion, what mattered most to him. Together, we settled on Nothing Personal, Radio Hour Episode 8: Fairyana, Clearing Bombs and 3. And the season of Eric was born.
Oct. 24-Nov. 3
Beginning with the persecution and imprisonment of Susan McDougal, jailed for contempt of court for her principled refusal to lie before Kenneth Starr’s grand jury, Nothing Personal explores the loss of civil liberties and the violations of human rights that have since disfigured our culture and politics. Fanaticism and principle, false ideals and genuine integrity, prison, torture and the tug of freedom … it’s nothing personal.
RADIO HOUR EPISODE 8: FAIRYANA
Also broadcast live on KUER’s RadioWest.
A comedy about the writers for the popular children’s television program The Magical Land of Fairyana. The writers are seasoned professionals, which is to say alcoholic, misanthropic, hypochondriacal, obsessed with death and prone to violence. And kept in line by the Mob. A radio show about happy, frolicking bunnies and froggies and the hardened cynics who write them.
Feb. 20-March 2
In the summer of 1942, economists Friedrich Hayek and John Maynard Keynes spent a night on the roof of King’s College Chapel in Cambridge, waiting to clear away and control German incendiary bombs. In Clearing Bombs, they’re joined by a fire warden, Mr. Bowles. A play about economics amid mortal danger, about defining the future they could only begin to imagine.
March 27-April 6
Three short plays about Mormon women confronting their own culture. In Bar and Kell, two women help a single mother and confront their own motives. In Community Standard, a woman serving on the jury of an indecency trial is forced to confront issues in her own marriage. And in Duets, a woman confronts the choices she has made by marrying a gay man.
The season also includes the return of our celebration of the First Amendment, And the Banned Played On, hosted by X96’s Kerry, Bill and Gina (May 3).
The Soldier’s Tale by Igor Stravinsky, a parable about a soldier who trades his fiddle to the devil for a book that predicts the future of the economy, presented in partnership with NOVA Chamber Music Series (Sept. 29).
Different=Amazing by Matthew Ivan Bennett, drawn from real-life bullying experiences of elementary students. Inspired by the 2010 event of the same name. (Salt Lake and Davis County elementary school tour: Feb. 24-March 14; one free public performance, Feb. 22).
ERIC(A) by Matthew Ivan Bennett, the story of Eric, a trans man, and how he fell for a woman for a first time, play’s Ogden’s Good Company Theatre (Nov. 12-13) before heading to the United Solo Theatre Festival in New York and Theatre Out in Santa Ana, Calif.
Information on the #SeasonOfEric and all Season Extras at planbtheatre.org
Jerry Rapier has been Producing Director of Plan-B Theatre Company since 2000. He and his husband Kirt Bateman, who were the first gay couple from Utah married in New York, are the proud parents of a 10-month-old son.