BWW Interviews: Plan-B Theatre¬'s Producing Director Jerry Rapier Knows Good Theater
Founded in 1991, the award-winning, Salt Lake City-based Plan-B Theatre Company develops and produces unique and socially conscious theater, with a particular emphasis on new plays by Utah playwrights.
Plan-B's last production was the well-reviewed "Hedwig and the Angry Inch," staged at the same Park City, Utah, theater that the movie incarnation premiered at the 2001 Sundance Film Festival.
Broadway World caught up with the company's producing director, Jerry Rapier.
What have you found to be most fulfilling about Plan-B?
In the theater, we all hope for and work toward those fleeting moments of true, palpable connection between the onstage world and the audience. I felt it in 1997 when I attended "An Ancient House," my first Plan-B show. Who knew I'd be running the company three years later? And in the 12 years since, I've witnessed that connection more times than I can count. It feeds my soul.
What would you say is Plan-B's single greatest accomplishment?
I'd like to think our focus on-and success with-new plays by local playwrights has made other Utah companies less skittish about producing new, local work.
How would you define a great night of theater?
A good night is when I can stop analyzing and lose myself in the story unfolding in front of me. Or when I can stop trying to figure out why a choice was made and simply allow myself to be affected by the choice. Or when I can feel the audience leaning forward around me, literally drawn toward the action onstage. A great night is when they all happen at once.
What's up next for Plan-B?
Our fundraising reading of "8" by Dustin Lance Black on August 4 and 5.
Last July 24, my then-partner-now-husband Kirt and I were legally married in New York after 15½ years together. As the first gay couple from Utah married in New York, we were completely unprepared for how different we would feel. We were even more unprepared for how it would feel when our marriage couldn't travel home with us.
Suddenly, the issue of same-sex marriage moved from a topic of conversation to the center of my life. A month later, I heard that Dustin Lance Black was developing a play about the 2010 trial that overturned Prop. 8. I had to read it. So I barraged him-as well as the folks at Broadway Impact and the American Foundation for Equal Rights-with emails.
It was pure serendipity that I received the "8" script in my inbox during our honeymoon, which, because of our crazy work schedules, had been delayed until November. I loved the play and wanted to stage it right away, but realized it would be better timing to wait until the first weekend in August to coincide-to the day!-with the two-year anniversary of the events in the play.
By the time "8" takes the stage in Salt Lake City, 59 readings will have been staged in this country and abroad, with another 70 scheduled. We at Plan-B have had the good fortune to have been involved in two other, similar international theater events: "The Laramie Project: Ten Years Later" and "Standing on Ceremony: The Gay Marriage Plays." There's an indescribable energy having one-let alone three-global theater experiences.
More info on "8" at planbtheatre.org/scriptinhand.htm.