Neal Charnoff of Vermont Public Radio interviewed our founder, Stephen Stearns, about the transition at NEYT to a new artistic director. Click here to listen.
Photos by Laura Bliss
Interview with Micheal Trzos by the Rutland Herald writer Janelle Faignant
Life’s mysterious nature, its beauty — and sometimes its unbearable pain — are represented by mundane everyday activities like grocery shopping and going to the library in Will Eno’s drama “Middletown.”
The metaphysical story takes place in a small town, Middletown, where the townspeople come together to explore the unknown, question life, and come to grips with why their lives seem so mundane.
The New England Youth Theatre’s senior program will present “Middletown” April 10-19 at its downtown Brattleboro playhouse.
Told in a series of fleeting vignettes, “It talks about big ideas,” explained director Micheal Trzos, for whom the play hit a very personal note.
“When I directed it in college I had recently lost a good friend of mine a couple months before,” he said. “(The play) really helped cure my anxieties about death. Instead of fearing it, I allowed myself to find the beauty of life, and live in the moment. It helped me through that time.”
Inspired in part by Thornton Wilder’s “Our Town,” Eno’s characters speak directly to the audience like the stage manager in “Our Town,” voicing their fears, anxieties, dreams and disappointments that sit just beneath the details of day to day small town life.
“They need somebody to speak to and they feel like they don’t have anybody,” Trzos said. “So they’re desperate enough to break that fourth wall and talk directly to the audience to express what they need to say.”
Trzos chose “Middletown” in part because it struck him as an appropriate show, given New England Youth Theatre’s senior program comprises actors ages 15 to 18, many of whom are seniors about to begin a new journey in their lives.
“They may be anxious or hesitant to embrace the unknown,” Trzos said. And he believes this play can inspire them through potentially difficult transitions.
“Middletown” embraces life’s rites of passages like “Our Town,” but with a quirkiness and modern feel to it.
“I’m a really huge supporter of contemporary new plays,” Trzos said. “I think it’s an important thing we need to embrace for the future of theater.”
Trzos likened his approach to directing this play to classic Russian playwright Anton Chekov, who was known to write simply, letting the audience peek through someone’s window. Everyday activities became ways Chekov revealed people and life.
And that’s just what happens in “Middletown.” A cop peeks through the windows just to try to get a sense of life in Middletown. Through these normal human tasks, answers are realized. The confidence and centeredness the characters are searching for becomes tangible as they begin to really pay attention to the little details.
“I wanted to write a play that put some thoughts and feelings in the air about the miracle and the mystery,” Eno said in a Boston Globe article, “but then really just have people going to the store and fixing the sink and going through the normal things of looking for love and getting up in the morning. Because that’s how we live.”
As these characters learn to connect with each other, and discuss things honestly with the audience and the other characters, they realize they’re not as lonely as they thought.
“I think ‘Middletown’ tries to look at the accumulation and effect of the tiny moments that make up our lives and how we are constantly vulnerable to these tiny moments, which may in fact change the angle of our entire life, or not,” Eno said. “We talk about the miracle of birth and the mystery of death. But by definition, all of our lives take place in the middle of those two sort of unknowable events.”
“I would say this play is for everybody, regardless of where you’re at in your life,” Trzos said. “Everybody can find some sort of relatable moment in this play. And if anybody has ever felt fear or anxiety about the future, this play can kind of help understand it, and potentially cure it — if you allow it to do that.”
Double your money for twice the fun!
A Great Show and A Great Cause!
All the proceeds of Storytellers On A Mission will be matched by an anonymous donor and go to benefit NEYT! Get your tickets now, before this show sells out.
New England Youth Theatre has been selected by Rita Ramirez, Elizabeth Catlin,Tom Bodett and Rich Korson, founders of The Hatch, to benefit from their next big fundraiser at The Latchis, STORYTELLERS ON A MISSION!
The Hatch is a nonprofit that produces live events, featuring nationally renowned storytellers, with the goal of supporting worthy social and cultural organizations in the area. In short, The Hatch exists to raise money for good causes and to have fun doing it!
On Thursday November 14, The Hatch will present STORYTELLERS ON A MISSION. Hosted by comedian Tom Shillue, it features the awe-inspiring comic storytellers Brian Babylon, Ophira Eisenberg, Dave Hill, Adam Wade(in a return appearance) and SRSLY with Alexandra Fiber and Danielle Gibson. These fine artists have been regularly featured on The Moth, NPR Shows, Comedy Central and more!
The proceeds will be matched one-to-one by an anonymous donor and go to eliminate NEYT's mortgage. Seats are $60, $40 and $25. Tickets are available online at neyt.org or in person/by phone at the NEYT Box Office, Mon-Fri Noon-4:00 pm. Click HERE to buy tickets now!
Special SPONSORSHIPS are available for $1000! A sponsorship includes two tickets to STORYTELLERS ON A MISSION, two tickets to NEYT's holiday production of OLIVER! and an expression of our gratitude in the evening's program. Potential sponsors are encouraged to call NEYT Development Director Naomi Shafer at 802-275-7596.
Find out more about our great storytellers at
hatchvt.org or on the HATCH FACEBOOK PAGE.