This is Carrie Dengler Wenger’s directing debut with the Valley Playhouse. She previously acted with the Playhouse in Almost, Maine and Life X Three. Carrie studied theater at Eastern Mennonite University where she directed her first show—Keely and Du.
VP: As a director, what is it about live theater that draws you to it?
Carrie: When we started the process for “Three Viewings”, I worried about how I was going to handle the extra work and energy a theater show demands. But I immediately experienced the phenomena that occurs when you do something that you love—it energizes you. My brain and spirit are awakened by the creative challenges we face. I am inspired by actors who work hard, become vulnerable, and produce moments they didn’t think possible. I feel a sense of belonging when the collaborative process brings strangers together to form a new community. And I find purpose in the cathartic and educational role theater plays in the cast, crew, and audience.
VP: What attracts you to directing?
Carrie: At the heart of me is a teacher, and it’s from that perspective that I approach directing. When I find a script that I feel has something beautiful to offer, it inspires my creativity, and I desire to share it with others. Oftentimes, understanding a script or a character is about understanding life and human beings. A director’s role is to guide an actor through the process of understanding, learning, and growing—a job that is extremely fulfilling for me. Building a relationship with an actor that makes them feel safe and empowered is satisfying to my spirit, and combining all the elements together in just the right way to communicate the feeling and meaning of a play is rewarding for me. How did you first get involved with the Valley Playhouse? Soon after graduating from EMU with a BA in theater, I acted in the the show “Crimes of the Heart” with the Valley Playhouse. Years went by before life brought me back to acting with the Playhouse in the show Almost, Maine. At that point I knew Harrisonburg was going to be my home, so I committed to the Playhouse as my theater home. I joined the Board of Directors in 2009, and am glad to be a part of what the Valley Playhouse offers our community.
VP: What attracted you to this play?
Carrie: I first saw this “Three Viewings” done in Delaware nearly 12 years ago and knew from first viewing that I wanted to direct this show at some point in my life. It is such a unique format to have three thirty minute monologues—a scenario that seems daunting to many actors and directors. But the script is phenomenal; Jeffrey Hatcher’s poetic writing makes it work. This show does it all: it pulls you in, captivates your being, has you laughing and then crying, and most importantly thinking and believing and changing. I have been reading this script for years and listening to the actors perform it over and over for weeks and I am still not tired of it. It is a great show, and I can’t wait to share it with our audiences.
VP: In this age of film, tv, and youtube, what does theater offer us? Does it have a distinct value or contribution from film, tv, and the internet?
Carrie: The obvious difference between theater and the aforementioned mediums is that theater is delivered by live performers. This changes everything. If you start with a script like “Three Viewings” that is a work of beauty, then add actors who let go of themselves, become vulnerable, and offer the audience an emotional portal into a new level of consciousness, and ice it all with lights and music and props that usher everyone into a unified, profound experience….well then you have not just entertainment, but art. The great director William Ball says in his book A Sense of Direction—Some Observations on the Art of Directing that theater art awakens the Spirit and reveals the beauty of humankind. He writes, “Somewhere during the course of the performance, the spectator experiences “The Great Aha!” A light goes on within him and the self is illuminated, awakened, enlightened, elevated, and changed” (4). This kind of experience my be possible with film, tv, and internet, but I believe it is more powerful in theater for two reasons: the fact that the actors are on stage leading the way and the fact that you are having this experience alongside many other audience members. Theater offers a unique opportunity for people to join together on an intellectual, emotional, and spiritual journey.
Three Viewings will be performed on Thursdays – Saturdays, March 8- 10, 2012 – March 15 – 17, 2012 at 8 pm and Sundays March 11 and March 18 at 3 pm . Tickets are $12, $10 for seniors and groups of 10 or more. Tickets are available at the Court Square Theater Box Office and at the door.
Live music by The Shakes will be presented for a half hour preceding each performance Thursdays – Saturdays.
An art exhibit by 4 local artist on “Life and Death” will also be featured during the run of the show.