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The Scarlet & Black

“Rabbit Hole” shown this weekend

By Megan Tcheng

The Grinnell Community Theatre, in conjunction with the Grinnell Area Arts Council, will open its production of “Rabbit Hole” today. The Pulitzer Prize-winning drama, written by renowned playwright, David Lindsay-Abaire, will take place at the Loft Theatre on Broad Street next to the Art Center. Featuring a six-member cast, including Alex Mitchell ’17 and Isabel Cooke ’16, the production will run for a total of two weeks, with performances each Friday, Saturday and Sunday for the duration of its run. In preparation for the Rabbit Hole’s opening night, The S&B’s Megan Tcheng sat down to chat with the production’s director, Brian Mitchell.

The S&B: You have had an extensive career in the arts and, in particular, have made a collection of significant contributions to the world of theater here in Grinnell. How did you first get involved with the Grinnell Community Theatre?

Brian Mitchell: I moved here from Cherokee, Iowa in 1995, and I was very involved in the theatre there. So when I moved here, I looked to get involved.

My first show [as a director] was a production called “The Best Christmas Pageant Ever” and, being the naïve, young director I was, I took all the kids that tried out. That factored out to 35 plus kids. The [experience] was definitely a little overwhelming for me. [During the show,] I learned a lot about myself and a lot about theater … and I learned not to direct again until I was truly ready for it.

The S&B: You are the director of the upcoming production of Rabbit Hole, which will be opening this coming Friday, Oct. 7. What inspired you to take on this specific play?

BM: I saw “Rabbit Hole” at the Iowa Thespian Festival for High Schoolers around 4 years ago. I knew nothing about the show before they drew the curtains, but [the production] pulled me in from the beginning. It starts off very humorous, but … as the show goes on, you find out that the young son of the married couple has died. They are past the raw emotion and instead are in a period of depression, roughly eight months after the fact. The show is really about how these two people, who have been through so much, work their way back to each other. So many people use comedy to deal with the hardships in life and that, in turn, makes the characters more believable and relatable. It really resonates.

The S&B: What was one of the biggest challenges for you and the cast during the production of “Rabbit Hole?”

BM: First and foremost, casting was a challenge. Another challenge is that the actors themselves are busy. For example, the actor that plays Jason is currently on the homecoming court at the high school. So, this coming Thursday night, he will be going through the parade, waiting to see who becomes king and then rushing to get to rehearsal on time. A lot of that is taken into account when we set up our schedule, but it’s still a challenge.

The S&B: How do you hope the audience will experience and interact with the production?

BM: First off, the nice thing about this production is that the theatre itself is very small. We’re only going to be having around 55 people per performance, so [the audience members] will literally be able to reach out and touch the actors at specific points in the play. You’ll get to experience their emotions very clearly and feel their pain. It’s a very intimate theatre, but this is a very intimate play.

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