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Interview: Writer/Director Catherine Butterfield on the World Premiere of TO THE BONE Presented by Open Fist Theatre Company

at Atwater Village Theatre

Interview: Writer/Director Catherine Butterfield on the World Premiere of TO THE BONE Presented by Open Fist Theatre Company

Open Fist Theatre Company is presenting the world premiere of To the Bone, a darkly funny comedy about family, baseball, and genetics, written and directed by Catherine Butterfield. The play centers on sisters Kelly Moran and Maureen Dugan from the "Irish Riviera" south of Boston, where they were known as "hard girls" back in high school. And since the adage says that it's better to write about the things you know, I decided to ask Catherine Butterfield about how much of her own personal life is reflected in the play and what it's like to write and direct it herself.

Thank you for taking the time to speak with me, Catherine.

A pleasure. I'm grateful Broadway World exists.

I am curious - since the play takes place in Boston, what is your personal background there?

Interview: Writer/Director Catherine Butterfield on the World Premiere of TO THE BONE Presented by Open Fist Theatre Company

Writer/director Catherine Butterfield

Photo credit: Miguel Perez

My family moved there from Minnesota when I was thirteen, and it was not a fun age to be uprooted. My town in Minnesota was very "Midwest nice," and in Massachusetts everyone seemed tougher and meaner to me. After a while I grew to love it, and upon reflection I think I would have grown to be a much more parochial person if I had stayed in Minnesota. But at the time it was a big challenge.

Did you grow up with your own sisters? Are the two characters based on them?

Interview: Writer/Director Catherine Butterfield on the World Premiere of TO THE BONE Presented by Open Fist Theatre Company

Pictured: Tisha Terrasini Banker and Amanda Weier

I grew up with three sisters, but none of the characters is based on them. The sister dynamic does inform the story, however, the way they love each other but also drive each other crazy. I did take my sister Darcy's name, which is very cool compared to the old-fashioned names we other three got (Catherine, Elizabeth, and Virginia) and gave it to one of the college girls. In Minnesota people called my sister "Dorcy," but when she got to Massachusetts it became "Dahcy," and we all thought that sounded lovely. I wanted to hear it in this play.

Interview: Writer/Director Catherine Butterfield on the World Premiere of TO THE BONE Presented by Open Fist Theatre Company

Pictured: Amanda Weier, Tisha Terrasini Banker

Do you hope the audience will connect to events from their own past and perhaps learn to heal from their own personal experiences that haunt them?

I do. I'm treating some pretty tough topics with a light hand, but there is a truth that lies beneath the comedy that I think audiences will relate to, especially with these very strong actors.

Are you a baseball fan, or more specifically a Red Sox fan?

I was a huge fan when we lived in Massachusetts, because my father was the general manager of the CBS affiliate there who aired the games, so we had box seats! I have memories of wonderful times going to the games with my father. Go Sox!

Interview: Writer/Director Catherine Butterfield on the World Premiere of TO THE BONE Presented by Open Fist Theatre Company

Pictured: Jack David Sharpe and Kacey Mayeda

Since the incident is included in To The Bone, were you or do you know anyone who was at the Red Sox game in which a Yankees fan ran onto the field in the ninth inning and voided what would have been the game-winning out? And if not, how did you do your research on it?

I was not there for that game. But I heard about it and found a clip of it online, which I'm actually running on a monitor in the lobby before the show. It was so unfair! (But I'm sure Yankees fans will disagree.)

Interview: Writer/Director Catherine Butterfield on the World Premiere of TO THE BONE Presented by Open Fist Theatre Company

Pictured: Tisha Terrasini Banker, Jack David Sharpe, and Amanda Weier

With your extensive playwriting experience, what do you usually find the most challenging thing when writing a play?

Gaining access to silence.

Great answer! As a writer myself, I totally understand.

Interview: Writer/Director Catherine Butterfield on the World Premiere of TO THE BONE Presented by Open Fist Theatre Company

Pictured: Kacey Mayeda

Did you always plan to direct To The Bone yourself while writing the play?

No. The play was optioned by a producer who intended to bring it to Broadway. Then the pandemic happened and it lost all its momentum, as so many other writers' projects did. When Open Fist offered to produce it with me directing, I decided I couldn't wait any longer for the stars to line up for the perfect production. The important thing is to get your work out there. I have other plays in my cyber-drawer waiting for their turn, and I'm not getting any younger.

Interview: Writer/Director Catherine Butterfield on the World Premiere of TO THE BONE Presented by Open Fist Theatre Company

Pictured: Tisha Terrasini Banker and Amanda Weier

What is the most challenging thing about directing a play you have written?

It is actually less challenging than directing a work you are not familiar with. You don't have to guess what the playwright meant. And the actors assume you understand the project, so you don't have to spend a lot of time showing off your knowledge to gain their trust. I guess if there is any pitfall, it might be that you are so close to it you don't see inconsistencies that might be viewed better from afar. We shall see.

Have you worked with any cast members before? (Tisha Terrasini Banker, Alice Kors, Kacey Mayeda, Jack David Sharpe, Amanda Weier)

Interview: Writer/Director Catherine Butterfield on the World Premiere of TO THE BONE Presented by Open Fist Theatre Company

Pictured: Tisha Terrasini Banker, Jack David Sharpe, Amanda Weier and Kacey Mayeda

I have! Tisha was in my play Life Expectancy at Malibu Playhouse, a comedy about late in life pregnancy. She was also in Welcome to Your Alternative Reality, which I co-wrote with my husband Ron West. I have known Alice and Kacey since they were little girls and doing plays at the Crossroads School with my daughter Audrey Corsa, who is also an actress. You could spot their talent even then. And Amanda and Jack often appear in Open Fist's This Week, This Week, a political sketch show for which I sometimes contribute pieces. Also, Amanda directed me in something once years ago, for the Fringe, so we know we work well together.

Have you worked with any of the creative team before? (scenic designer Jan Munroe, lighting designer Gavan Wyrick, sound designer Marc Antonio Pritchett, costume designer Mylette Nora, prop masters Bruce Dickinson and Ina Shumaker, scenic painter Stephanie Crothers, and production stage manager Jennifer Palumbo.)

This is my first time with all of them, although I know some of them from their work with Ron. They are doing a great job.

Interview: Writer/Director Catherine Butterfield on the World Premiere of TO THE BONE Presented by Open Fist Theatre Company

Pictured: Amanda Weier and Jack David Sharpe

What do you think will surprise audiences about the play?

There's a reveal at the end of the first act which we have carefully guarded. And they might be surprised that they are laughing so much at dark topics. I sure hope so.

What message do you hope the audience takes away with them?

Never give up.

Anything else you would like to add?

Theatre is changing drastically these days in many ways, and we must be flexible enough to change with it. It's all for the good.

Thanks so much! And congratulations on adding another play to your growing resume!

Interview: Writer/Director Catherine Butterfield on the World Premiere of TO THE BONE Presented by Open Fist Theatre Company

Pictured: Tisha Terrasini Banker and Amanda Weier

Performances of the world premiere play To The Bone, written and directed by Catherine Butterfield, run October 1 to November 5 at Atwater Village Theatre, 3269 Casitas Ave., Los Angeles, CA 90039 with free parking in the ATX (Atwater Crossing) lot one block south of the theater. Tickets: General Admission: $30; Seniors: $20; Students: $15 with a Pay What You Want preview performance on Sept. 30. This play is appropriate for ages 10+. For specific dates, tickets and more information, call (323) 882-6912 or visit www.openfist.org

Interview: Writer/Director Catherine Butterfield on the World Premiere of TO THE BONE Presented by Open Fist Theatre Company

Pictured: Tisha Terrasini Banker and Amanda Weier

Please note: Covid-19 protocols as of the date this interview include proof of vaccination required for admission. Patrons must remain masked throughout the performance. Check website for current Covid-19 protocols on the date of each performance.

Open Fist Theatre Company is a collective, self-producing artistic enterprise with all facets of its operation run by its artist members. The company's name combines the notion that an open spirit, embracing all people and all ideas, is essential, with the idea that determination, signified by a fist, is necessary if the theater is to remain a vital voice for social change and awareness.

Production photos courtesy of Open Fist Theatre Company




From This Author - Shari Barrett

Shari Barrett, a Los Angeles native, has been active in the theater world since the age of six - acting, singing, and dancing her way across the boards all over town. After teaching in secondary sc... (read more about this author)


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