FRINGEFAMOUS FIVE: CARIN BRATLIE
It’s been a while since we’ve been able to throw a FringeFamous Five together. So we were pumped times ten that Theatre Pro Rata Artistic Director, Carin Bratlie, agreed to play our little five-question game. Bratlie directed Pro Rata’s current production of Killer Joe by Tracy Letts, which closes October 19th.
Ever since August: Osage County, Tracy Letts has been just about the hottest playwright out there. Was the decision to produce Killer Joe a quick reaction to that popularity, or does Theatre Pro Rata just have an amazing amount of foresight?
CARIN BRATLIE: Funnily enough, it was just coincidental. In fact, I’m pretty sure we picked it before he won the Tony and/or the Pulitzer. When we set Metamorphoses for spring of 2008, I was looking ahead for something that would contrast it, something contemporary and darkly comedic…another Slag Heap or Trainspotting. Our Producing Artistic Associate Natalie handed me a stack of plays she thought would fit the bill, knowing full well that I have a masochistic streak that loves tackling shows seemly impossible for a small company to produce.
When I got to the last page of Killer Joe, my jaw dropped. I closed the script and said, “We HAVE to do this play.”
Describe the process Pro Rata goes through when choosing its next production.
CB: In a nutshell, it’s a “This play is awesome; let’s do it!” sort of vibe.
I’m passionate about supporting the playwright’s original intention, versus imposing some wacky new take on it. Being a text-based company, it’s essential that we love the scripts on the short list. If you don’t like the play as is, don’t do it, right?
There are about 20 plays and/or playwrights on The List. Company members suggest plays they love, are excited about, or think would be a good fit for Pro Rata.
Then we look at the shows in the bigger picture. Has enough time passed since this play was last produced in town? How does it pair with the other show in our season? What about the potential season after? Is it disparate from or similar to our past works? Is it realistically within our means to bring the show to life successfully?
I have the next three seasons roughly sketched out. At least one in the mix is a show that we have refrained from producing until we KNEW we were ready to take on its challenges. A good example of this is the potential 2011/2012 season that has Sondheim’s Assassins in the fall and Howard Barker’s Scenes from an Execution in the spring. Oh, crap. Did I just announce that?
We recently threw up a link to this short article. I’m curious if there are any ideas on that list that you, as a local AD of a “fringe” company, love or hate.
CB: A lot of it seems to be intended to agitate, but there are some good points in spite of that.
Regarding producing Shakespeare, there is WAY too much bad Shakespeare out there. Shakespeare done well is breathtaking; Shakespeare done badly is torture. I don’t agree there should be a moratorium on it, but I do agree that if you don’t have the chops, you should step away from the Bard.
Producing “fast, dirty and often” is the exact opposite of what we’re doing with Pro Rata. We only do two mainstage shows a year because I’d rather do less work and do it of higher quality than churn out a bunch of crap and hope that something sticks to the wall.
Okay, back to the current show…So far, the press has had very nice things to say about Killer Joe. If you had nothing to do with theatre, what could someone tell you about this production that would make you want to buy a ticket?
CB: It’s like the bastard child of No Country for Old Men and Natural Born Killers.
Obviously, things are economically tough right now. And it looks like it may possibly get worse before it gets better. In your estimation, what’s number one on Theatre Pro Rata’s list of things that need to be done to not only survive in the future, but grow?
CB: We need more visibility in the general public.
The ‘07/’08 season was a make-or-break year for us, and after some restructuring and a reinvigoration of new blood, we’re coming out the other side on top. Our audience loves watching our work and is generous with its support, and the artists we know love working with us.
We need to get ourselves on everyone’s radar.
Carin Bratlie is a freelance director and acting instructor in Minneapolis, MN. She is the Artistic Director of Theatre Pro Rata and has also directed for Theatre L’ Homme Dieu, The Great American History Theater, Theatre Unbound, the Grand Marais Playhouse, Theatre of the Invisible Guests, Heritage Theater Company, St. Croix Valley Summer Theater, Chameleon Theater Circle and others. She has assistant directed for the Guthrie Theater (Third, As You Like It, Top Girls), Outward Spiral, and The Great American History Theater. She has designed costumes and/or set for a number of Pro Rata productions. She teaches theater classes at the Guthrie and Youth Performance Company. As a technician she has worked with Teatre de la Jeune Lune, 3 legged race, and was production stage manager for Eye of the Storm Theatre’s 2000 and 2001 seasons. She was a participant director at the Wesley Balk Opera/Musical Theater Institute in 2007 and received a BA from Concordia College, Moorhead, MN in 1998.