Meet The Director!
This week, I had the pleasure of interviewing Jack Krause, the director of OpenStage's production of The Christians. Jack has worked extensively with OpenStage as a Stage Manager, Assistant Director and Projection Engineer. However, this is his first time taking the helm as the Director for a show!
Read on to learn about Jack's experience directing The Christians.
Tell me about yourself! Where are you from, what is your experience directing, what are your hobbies, any fun facts?
In your own words, what would you say The Christians is about?
This play is about communication. When is the right time to say something? Who are the right people to tell? I don’t think any of the answers are simple or correct. Everything in this play, the conflict, the drama, the comedy; they all stem from one initial misstep in communication. How do you resolve that? Honesty? Argument? Like I said, no right answers.
What inspired you to direct The Christians?
When I read this play, I thought a lot back to my childhood in the church. Being from Southern Colorado, there are a lot of megachurches that I spent my formative years in. Woodmen Valley Chapel, Focus on the Family, New Life; they all formed my impression of what a congregation means and what a good or bad community can be. Scandal and faith among the Church admin became part of the optics in my teenage years and in my late 20’s, so I left. I find myself coming back to it with earnest faith, but with the caveat that I need to believe these things because I believe them and not because someone with a microphone told me to. That’s why I like this play. It’s not preaching to you to believe the Pastor or the Associate. It’s asking you to consider what they have to say. That is why I am happy to direct it.
Do you have a particular favorite line or exchange from the play?
My life has been a mixture of religion and the progression of presented gender over the last few decades. I have three younger sisters, recently three more step-sisters, a mother, step-mother; A lot of women in my immediate life. Growing up in church, I was happy that my experience was inclusive, though I know that historically that is not the case. When the Pastor and his Wife are discussing the role of women in the church, this conversation is a presentation of the old ways and the new path. She is “not that kind of pastor’s wife.” Such a wonderful line coming from a character that deserves so much more than she receives. The actress, Tiana Song, does a wonderful job navigating that exchange.
The Christians tackles some tough topics and nuanced perspectives about faith in America–how did you approach these topics when directing?
When we first started, I asked the cast to unpack their baggage about church. We laid it bare on the table and had a discussion about what church means to them. Everyone who sees this show is going to have something to say about how they were raised and the influence religion had on them. We agreed as a team that this was not going to be a flanderization. We would present humans with questions who happen to be at a church.
No parody, no satire. It’s just human communication.
What is it like directing a play in such an interesting venue as a church?
A challenge. There is no proscenium, the boundary between the audience/congregation is practically non-existent. We also need to respect the sanctuary of this space. This isn’t a warehouse or a vacant storefront. There is history and important relics in this place so we did everything in our power to respect that. No adjustments, no set dressing. This is their church and they have been so kind to allow us to use it. The least and best we can do for them is to honor that.
Do you have any advice for aspiring directors?
To start, live and die by the text. If it’s yours great, if it is someone else’s, find every scrap of text they have ever written on it. Second, build your vision. Know what you want and communicate that clearly to your team. Third and final, trust, or in the context of this show, have faith. Have faith in your actors. Have faith in your producers. Have faith that the team around you are all working towards the same goal. I’ve seen directors try to control every nuance of a production (I’m very guilty of this) but in the end, this is a collaboration of all different kinds of artists. It is your job as the director to have faith that if you’ve done your job, everyone else will. (Granted this is not absolute, but it’s a launchpad.)
Why should audiences come to see The Christians?
Two reasons. First, it’s a wonderful show that asks questions of its audience. We go to the theatre to challenge our nature and conceptions of reality.
Second, it is an art form that was desperately impacted by the last few years. It is sacred and in my opinion, needs the breath of life that an audience provides to persist.
What's next for you after The Christians?
Come see Jack's inspired direction come to life in The Christians, playing at Christ United Methodist Church May 20th - June 11th!
Directed by Jack Krause
May 20 – June 11, 2022
Twenty years ago, Pastor Paul’s church was a modest storefront. Now it’s a gleaming megachurch. Paul is about to deliver a sermon that will shake the foundation of his parish to its core. Certainty and doubt come to a head as his stunning revelation just may convert his congregation of thousands into a congregation of one. A compassionate nuanced look at faith in America—and the trouble with changing your mind.