Director Stephen Brackett on American River, Lesser America and Party Planning

What is your approach to directing?  Is it different from how you were trained?

I’m a big believer in collaboration and respecting the artistry that every member of the team brings to the table. That really guides my process with actors, designers, playwrights and everyone else. I try and lead an open and comfortable room, a room where people feel free to try something new and take major risks. I come from a training that is based on plunging into the work and getting your hands dirty with it, whether that means getting up into the grid and hanging a light or getting crafty in finding a solution within limited resources. It really has guided my approach to making theater in a major way.

What drew you to American River?  What themes resonated with you?

I was really struck by the love story at the center of this play, and really found myself rooting for these two completely challenging and rough around the edges characters. I appreciate plays with complicated and problematic protagonists. And I think Micheline had an amazingly deep understanding of the life blood of the people that inhabit her play, so I was drawn to the people and I was drawn to Micheline’s sensibilities, which are kind of twisted, utilize a lot of heart, and have killer naturalistic flourishes.

How did you start working with Lesser America?

I met Lesser America in the Fall of 2011, when I directed 3 short plays for Too Much Too Soon, their evening of short plays. Their “can do” vibe really struck a chord with me. I’m a big fan of theirs.

If you weren’t doing this, what would you do?

Maybe a caterer or some sort of party planner. Sometimes I think I could be an excellent professional organizer. I’m a tad compulsive and OCD like that.

What’s next?

I’m workshopping a new musical called The Trouble With Doug at TheatreWorks in California and in the winter I’m directing The Correspondent by Ken Urban at Rattlestick Playwrights Theater.

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