Plan-B Fosters Innovative Playwrights
I recently had the pleasure of sitting down with Eric Samuelsen, resident playwright for Plan-B Theatre Company. His latest work, Clearing Bombs, will debut on February 20. During our conversation, I was struck by Samuelsen’s success: 20 years as professor in the theatre department at Brigham Young University (BYU), literary critic, and a playwright with approximately 30 works under his belt. His full story will appear in the February edition of 15 Bytes. Samuelsen’s relationship with Plan-B Theatre Company spans more than a decade, and during a season that celebrates the success of a seasoned playwright – the company is also working to foster the efforts of emerging playwrights through a grant offered in partnership with The David Ross Fetzer Foundation for Emerging Artists.
Samuelsen and Fetzer have both had a profound impact on the local theatre community, but Fetzer’s career ended shortly after his 30th birthday. In December 2012, he passed away unexpectedly. Now his legacy lives on with the help of Plan-B Theatre Company and other local organizations. Jerry Rapier, producing director of Plan-B, often worked with Fetzer and sat down to answer some of my questions about Fetzer and the theatre grant.
1. David Fetzer’s untimely passing was a tremendous loss to the Salt Lake theatre community and it’s wonderful to see that his legacy will live on through the David Ross Fetzer Foundation for Emerging Artists. How did Plan-B come to partner with the foundation?
David’s mother Betsy emailed me one day and asked if we could get together – “I have this idea…” She left it hanging until we were in the same room. When she told me what she wanted to do, I was humbled to be asked to be a small part of honoring David.
2. David was actively involved with Plan-B, can you share one of your favorite memories of him?
David had to wear these prosthetics that looked like an A carved into his chest in THE SCARLET LETTER. There was one for each dress rehearsal and performance. In a way that only David could make sweet, he created opening night cards out of the ones used in rehearsal. Creepy and hilarious.
3. The theatre grant is available to those under 35-years-old. From your perspective, what can the community glean from fostering the work of young playwrights?
All great plays were once new plays. All great playwrights were once young playwrights, hoping to get that first play produced. There has been a significant increase in the support of and passion for new plays in this community over the past decade. We simply want to introduce a new voice to the mix.
4. Can you offer any pointers to people who are planning to submit their work for the theatre grant?
Sure. Read the guidelines carefully! And remember – the play only has to be well on its way, it doesn’t have to be finished.
The grant will be offered annually to emerging playwrights. This is an opportunity to celebrate the young, local talent in Utah and watch as their careers grow to the same magnitude as (or perhaps surpasses) that of Samuelsen’s.
Dale Thompson has a B.A. in Liberal Arts from The Evergreen State College and an Masters degree in communications from Westminster College. Her writing career includes work for a local theatre, journalism in Park City, and freelance contributions for various nonprofit organizations.