Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Embrace Regional Theatre


Contributed by Jerry Rapier

When I tell people I make a living in the theatre in Salt Lake City I get raised eyebrows, followed by the inevitable comments about: (1) polygamy, (2) gay rights and (3) the accessibility of alcohol. The city is viewed quite narrowly but, truth be told, it is a hotbed of theatrical talent, energy, vision and prowess. I feel honored to hone my craft here.

For me, working in the theatre has never felt more vital. Consider recent world events - the tragedy in Japan, the economic crisis, the racial tension that has heightened since the last presidential election. But the (sad) truth is, I was able to say the same thing last year and the year before and the year before that, albeit with a different list.

I believe in the power of regional stories - not necessarily stories about our region, although I embrace that - but stories told through the lens of our region, by writers from our region. I wholeheartedly foster the work of local artists - actors, designers, directors, playwrights - for this reason.

In a world dominated by sound bites, shock and teasers, ideas are under attack. I work in the theatre - and continue on, through the uncertainty - because it is the place where ideas can be explored in depth and shared with passion.


Jerry Rapier in his 11th season as Producing Director of Plan-B Theatre Company and is a longtime SDC member. Eight of the 16 productions Jerry has directed for Plan-B have been named 'Best Local Theatre Production' by Salt Lake City Weekly. He received Salt Lake City's Mayor's Artist Award in the Performing Arts (2008), was named an Alternative Pioneer by Salt Lake City Weekly (2009) and was the only performing arts professional among Community Foundation of Utah's Enlightened Fifty (2010). Jerry has served locally on the boards of TheatreWorks West, NowPlayingUtah.com, Performing Arts Coalition, Transgender Education Advocates of Utah and KUER-FM; and nationally on the Board of Governors of the Human Rights Campaign (2007-2009) and as a Theatre Panelist for the National Endowment for the Arts (2009-2010). He and his partner of 15 years are in the process of adopting their first child.