I don’t like small plays. The economics of making theater in America force playwrights to create smaller and smaller stories to appeal to companies consistently strapped for cash. And the end result is often a kind of sit-com theater that would be more at home on the television screen.
The classics of the theater sprawled across the stage, creating worlds of imagination with huge casts and enormous theatricality. Of course few theaters can afford the kind of cast sizes of Shakespeare or the golden age of Broadway.
But every so often a playwright manages the seemingly impossible: a small cast drama with a single and simple set that explodes the realism of contemporary theater and grapples with the big, existential questions that make great art.
I’ve had the privilege of directing several plays like that — Cormac McCarthy’s The Sunset Limited, Tennessee Williams’ Kingdom of Earth, and Harold Pinter’s The Caretaker. All three start in a room with a only a few actors. By the end of the evening, they have exploded past the realistic trappings of everyday life to rattle our cages and provoke questions to keep us exploring long after the final curtain.
Amazingly, with only one actor, a box of scraps and a few pieces of 20th century technology, Glen Berger manages to do the same thing with Underneath the Lintel. One-person shows are so often the awkward attempt at telling the biography of a famous person. But Berger’s play is a vastly entertaining and thrillingly thought-provoking ride that starts in the crumbling ruins of an old theater but rapidly whirls us on a journey across time and space — hurtling us into the heart of metaphysical mystery and reminding us that the most daring of all human actions is to create.
I’m so thrilled to be returning to the Hanesbrands and Winston-Salem. I’m also delighted to welcome you to this odd and wonderful story. Myth, history, religion, philosophy and good old-fashioned fun is at the heart of this extraordinary play. I hope you will enjoy. And I hope you will take the time to be an ambassador for Triad Stage and live theater in Winston-Salem by telling family, friends, and strangers to join us for our second season.
Director of Underneath the Lintel or The Mystery of the Abandoned Trousers / Triad Stage Artistic Director and Co-Founder