Stephanie Gularte came all the way from Sacramento, Calif., to direct “Gruesome Playground Injuries,” University of Idaho Theatre Art’s first production of the year. The founding artistic director of Capital Stage in Sacramento, Gularte is a UI distance learning student, on her way to earn a master’s degree in directing — after having earned a bachelor’s degree in both theater and political science. Here, Gularte speaks from the lobby of the Fairfield Inn in Moscow, her four-week home, to discuss her travels and trials to bring swing set bruises to life.What is Capital Stage?
We’re a small professional theater company producing works year round, primarily contemporary, bold theater and reimagined classics … I founded the company. It actually developed out of another company that I had been running. I wanted to kind of take it in a different direction and form a professional, not-for-profit company.
What does it mean to be a distance learning student through UI?
I have my professional work that I have been doing — directing and producing — so I’m able to use some of that work toward my degree by doing some additional academic support work. This semester, I’m participating in a writer’s studio. It meets twice a week just like any other class, but instead of being physically there, the writers all call in. Because writing is something that one does outside of the classroom, it’s a good match for distance learning … Right now I’m in residence as a guest artist directing a production, so that’s also part of the relationship that I’ve developed with the University of Idaho.
How are you able to plan that production, “Gruesome Playground Injuries,” from California?
I flew in in November for three days for a casting and production meeting. I saw a bunch of actors in one day. I did a very rigorous one-day casting session … We would have production meetings via Skype with the production team here. A lot of the set was actually built before I even got here … (Now) I’m here for four weeks. In the professional world, it’s pretty much the same schedule that I always work under. It’s a little less time than the students are accustomed to having, but they’ve also been working longer hours.
What’s the plot behind “Gruesome Playground Injuries”?
It’s a very unique take on the traditional love story. It follows a relationship over a period of 30 years, bouncing back and forth in time. It chronicles the relationship by looking at the injuries sustained over the course of the 30 years of these characters’ lives. Both physical injuries, psychological injuries, injuries sustained from the outside world and self-inflicted injuries. At the heart, it’s a traditional boy meets girl story, but it takes a very untraditional structure and approach by using injuries as a kind of metaphor for life.
What’s untraditional about it?
There’s just two actors. The actors play ages 8 to 38. It’s an enormous acting challenge … The set is fairly simple, but it also sort of serves as a metaphor. We wanted to suggest the environment of a playground without literally being a playground … because the playwright has given us the challenge of having all of the transitions from the different ages happen in front of the audience, on the stage. So the audience watches the actors go from being 8 years old to 23 years old to 13 years old to 28 years old and all of that happens in front of the audience — all of the costume changes.
Is make-up used to age the characters?
It’s really about vocal placement and the groundedness of a person … What you do see with make-up is the application of injuries. When we go into these transitions, they become very theatrical. We see Doug create bruising on his face, we see Kayleen become 13. It’s a really interesting juxtaposition of a very realistic style and a very theatrical style. That’s been an interesting challenge.
How does Moscow compare to Sacramento?
It’s really nice here and it’s nice to be in a different environment, it really is, because I’ve been very entrenched in my community, and I love it there, but it’s always good to get away and get a little bit of a different perspective.
Treffry can be contacted at (208) 883-4640 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter @LindseyTreffry.
->if you go:
WHAT: “Gruesome Playground Injuries”
WHEN: 7:30 p.m. Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Feb. 6, 7 and 8. A 2 p.m. showing will take place Sunday and Feb. 9.
WHERE: Hartung Theatre, University of Idaho campus, Moscow
COST: $10 adults, $8 seniors, WSU students, UI faculty and staff. UI students get in free with ID. Tickets can be purchased through the Kibbie Dome Ticket Office at (208) 883-7212 or at the door.