HUNTINGTON, Ind. – The Huntington University Theatre Company
will conclude its 2011-2012 mainstage season with “The Foreigner.” Scott Evans, a professional actor and director and member of Actors’ Equity Association, will serve as the guest director for this comedy.
Evans, a graduate of Vanderbilt University, recently directed Neil Simon’s “Biloxi Blues” at the Forestburgh Playhouse. He served as assistant director to David H. Bell for the world premiere of “Gut Bucket Blues” at Kenny Leon’s True Colors Theatre and worked as an assistant on the Helen Hayes Performing Arts Center production of “Eleanor,” directed by John Tillinger and starring Jean Stapleton.
Currently, he is the assistant director for Jim Henry’s new play, “7th Monarch,” which will have its New York premiere off-Broadway in June 2012.
As an actor, he performed in the Off Broadway revivals of “Room Service” and “The Man Who Came To Dinner.” His regional work includes roles at Ford’s Theatre, Pittsburgh CLO, Tennessee Repertory Theatre, Bethesda Theatre/Nederlander Worldwide, West Virginia Public Theatre, Arts Center of Coastal Carolina, and Canada’s National Arts Centre, among others.
In a sit down with Evans, he talked about his vision for “The Foreigner” and hinted at what audiences can expect from this play. Q: What is your vision for “The Foreigner”? A: “‘The Foreigner’ is such a rewarding comedy. The play deals with some pretty serious topics —xenophobia, racism, language barriers, the masks we wear, breaking stereotypes, finding self-worth and acceptance — but it does it all with a heavy dose of silliness and humor. Playwright, Larry Shue, certainly wanted to remind us that these struggles are out there, but he wasn’t trying to make the audience uncomfortable in that great way that challenging theater can sometimes do. He chose a setting remote enough to give the audience a safe distance and tied the chief antagonists to a group almost universally recognized as evil. By doing this, the piece becomes less about holding a mirror up to society, and more about celebrating the basic human connections that help us overcome all of that mess I talked about before. So, I think we just have to tell the story and have fun doing it. We will do our best to play the truth of the situations, heightened though they may be, and to highlight the central themes. If we serve that, we serve the piece.”
Q: What were your initial thoughts about the play after you read the script? A: “My first thought was, ‘of course Jay Duffer selected this play.’ Those of you who know how silly Jay can be will know exactly what I mean. Those who don’t should get to know Jay.”
Q: Have you personally performed in the show before? A: “I haven’t. I would love to at some point. I think the actors are going to have a blast bringing these characters to life.”
Q: What made you want to get into directing? A: “A few things led me to directing, actually. I got the opportunity to direct some in college and really enjoyed it. It was exciting, challenging and exhausting. I had a great experience. I knew it was something I wanted to do professionally, but I kept saying, ‘later, someday.’ Eventually, a few of the theater companies where I had worked as an actor started approaching me about the possibility of directing shows for them. I was very much intrigued by the idea, but I was still completely focused on getting work as an actor. A few years ago, things shifted. I needed a new challenge — the opportunity to stretch and grow as a person and an artist. And quite honestly, I was looking for more control over my career. I called up some of my favorite directors who I had worked with and asked if they needed an assistant on any of their upcoming projects — that was my foot in the door. The more I did it, the more I loved it.
Q: What do you enjoy about directing? A: There are many things I enjoy about directing. Of course, I enjoy having the opportunity to shape the overall vision of the show, but I also love the collaboration, the challenge of creating an environment in which other artists can do their best work, the problem-solving — all of that process stuff that makes the final outcome that much more rewarding.”
Q: What do you think audiences will enjoy about this production and your take on the show? A: “I think audiences are going to have a great time. The play is, of course, chocked full of hysterical situations and great physical comedy bits. But it’s got a lot of heart, too. It has some pretty encouraging things to say about our capacity to look past our differences and take care of one another.”
Q: How did you feel when asked to come to Huntington University to work as guest director for “The Foreigner”? A: “Jay and I had discussed the possibility of me directing a show for Huntington at some point. I was certain that if he had chosen to make a professional home there, it had to be a great place to work. So when he called, I was thrilled! And ‘The Foreigner’ is such a fun piece. I knew I would thoroughly enjoy spending a few months in that world.”
Q: Where do you get your creative inspiration from? A: “I draw a lot from personal experiences — use what you know, right? And I’m a research guy. I love it. I know it doesn’t sound flashy, but it fleshes out details and adds specificity, which leads to truth. And you never know what you’re going to stumble onto that will spark an idea. On top of all that, I am blessed to have a career where I am surrounded by creative people all the time. That environment challenges you to explore, and somehow multiplies and amplifies creative impulses. It’s invaluable.”
Q: What are you looking forward to most about coming to Huntington?A: “I don’t think there is a ‘most.’ I’ve been thoroughly impressed with the collaboration thus far with the theater department staff and student designers, and I can’t wait to see the final result of their work. Just thinking about the rehearsal process for this show makes me laugh. And I get the added bonus of spending the spring working with a dear friend. So much to look forward to!”
“The Foreigner” premieres April 24 and runs through April 28 in the Merillat Centre for the Arts Studio Theatre. Performances begin at 7:30 p.m. April 24-28 with a 2 p.m. afternoon matinee performance on April 28.
Tickets cost $12 for general admission, $10 for students and seniors, $6 for children 13 and younger, $5 for HU students and $9 for HU faculty/staff.
For reservations, call the Merillat Centre for the Arts Box Office at 260-359-4261 from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. Mondays through Fridays. Tickets also will be sold at the door before every performance. Tickets are now on sale.
For more information about the Huntington University Theatre Company, visit www.huntington.edu/theatre