Sneak Peak by Erica Minton of The Hunchback of Seville: Know Theatre
An Interview with Know Theater Producing Artistic Director Andrew Hungerford
LCT: The Know Theatre’s next Main Stage production,The Hunchback of Seville, is a collaboration with University of Cincinnati’s College-Conservatory of Music. Can you tell us a bit about this co-production?
AH: We at the Know for a while have been wanting to continue to reach out to the universities around town and have more to do with their theatre students, and bring them down to our space. And of course also half of our full-time staff went to CCM at various points: I have my MFA from CCM, and our technical director Nick Koehlke has his training from CCM, and our design associate and scenic artist/props master Sarah Beth Hall has her degree from CCM… so we know that place very well!
So I had been chatting with Brant Russell, who’s directing this, about the possibility of him coming to play with us, and then I had a meeting with Richard Hess, the head of the CCM Drama Department… […] We’re really excited to be able to offer CCM students a chance to be in a space that is unlike any that they will ever perform in as part of their academic program up at CCM. And just a very different professional experience.
LCT: Can you say more about how this production will be a different theater experience for the students?
AH: Yeah! One of the things about CCM is that it produces like a regional theater—like a fairly large-scale regional theater—in terms of the level of staff that they have working on any given production, and the amount of financial support, and the scale of the productions, it’s just very very large. And one of the things that I think a lot of students find when they come from programs with that much support and they graduate out into the real world: suddenly they go from working in this massive-scale sets to working in very small theaters, whether it’s in New York or in other cities around the country. So I think we are giving them an opportunity to get a glimpse of, and the experience of, working in the kind of theater where a number of them will probably start working professionally, as they come out of the program.
We also, I think, provide a pretty good balance of spaces that’s sort of somewhere between what the level of support they have at CCM versus what they might find in some of the off-off-off- Broadway houses in New York, or the little black box theaters in Chicago, or the tiny little storefronts in L.A., in that we have really strong production support. And in part because of some of the training that our people got at CCM! We execute productions at a very high level, whereas sometimes you’ll go to some theaters in New York, like off-off-off Broadway, and the ideas are there but it’s held together with wishes and duct tape.
LCT: What else should we know about The Hunchback of Seville?
AH: One of the other great things about it of course is it’s another new play by a woman playwright. That’s something that we’ve been working really hard on for the past couple seasons: to achieve gender parity among the playwrights we produce. That’s really important to me since women are underrepresented drastically on stages across the country. So it’s really exciting to be doing that—and by Charise Castro Smith, who’s this fantastic up-and-coming writer.
LCT: Before I go, what is one thing you’d like people to know about Know Theatre?
AH: One of the things that we’ve really been trying to solidify and coalesce around in the past two seasons is this idea of the Know as a theatrical playground. […] We are the place where artists and audience members can come together to play together, in the creation of new work that honestly can’t happen on any of the other stages in town, for one reason or another. […] We like to be the place where everybody can come together to take those risks, in a way that feels supported and comforting—and welcoming. The idea of welcoming everyone in to experience something is something that is really important to us, and the idea of everyone getting a chance to play together. I think even when we do serious or heavy shows, there is always a sense of play.
Summary from the Know Website:
The year is 1504, and on an unnaturally cold day in Spain, the brilliant, hunchbacked, adopted sister of Queen Isabella is given a chance to maybe change the world. All she has to do is hide her Moorish lover, deal with a hellion of an heir, and side step the Inquisition.
Spoiler alert: it doesn’t go well.
The Hunchback of Seville is an irreverent comedy that skewers the horrors of colonialism with a rapier wit and a heavy dose of the ridiculous, en route to a Tarantino-esque climax.
The Hunchback of Seville runs Oct. 9-24 at Know Theatre (Wed-Sat @ 8pm, Sun @ 3pm). The show is a co-production with University of Cincinnati’s College-Conservatory of Music. Tickets can be purchased at KnowTheatre.com.