This show runs approximately 2 hours, including one intermission.
NOTE: Audience members may find some language offensive. The cigarette “smoke” you see onstage is a non-toxic vapor.
The Vikings play at home on September 8 and 22, so you may need extra time to find parking.
THE HOUSE OPENS 45 MINUTES BEFORE CURTAIN. You may want to arrive early to enjoy the exhibit in our art gallery with refreshments ranging from coffee and cookies to beer and wine.
POST-SHOW DISCUSSION: Join the company of The Birds for a post-show discussion following the Sunday matinee on September 8th.
AUDIO-DESCRIPTION: The Sunday, September 22nd performance will be audio-described, based on reservations. Click here for a description of this and other access services at TRP.
About the Show
(company members are listed at the bottom, following the interview with the director)
The Birds, a short story written in 1952 by popular novelist Daphne du Maurier (Rebecca, My Cousin Rachel) is best known for its film version by Alfred Hitchcock in 1963. In 1994, British playwright Conor McPherson wrote this version, which was given its American premiere at the Guthrie Theatre in 2012.
Seth Kaltwasser returns to the arena to direct McPherson’s dark look at human survival in the face of catastrophe.
Interview with the Director
Q. Quite a few patrons have said they can’t wait to see how we stage all those birds attacking people in the arena. So, how are you going to handle that?
KALTWASSER: I am happy to report that this adaptation does not require us to stage any bird attacks; in fact, the audience never sees any birds at all in this production. Conor McPherson’s retelling of this story takes place entirely within the confines of an old farmhouse, where a small trio of survivors has taken refuge. While the attacking birds have a constant presence in the play (through sound and light cues), the real drama of the play is in the existential worries and the power dynamics that play out between the characters inside the house.
Q. What is the setting in time and place for the play and how does it affect the story?
KALTWASSER: The play is set in a rural New England farmhouse in the near future. Because the bird attacks have cut our characters off from the collapsing modern world, much of the play exists in a sort of vacuum where time and place have less of a direct effect in the story. However, our designers are doing an excellent job helping to bring this apocalyptic setting to life. Constant sound cues provide a rich sense of the chaos outside. Original music helps increase the tension throughout the play. Lighting cues show the passage of time and
the impending madness of our main characters. And our costume and props designers are making smart choices to furnish a modern world in chaos.
Q. What appealed to you about this play? Why was it one of your top choices to direct this season?
KALTWASSER: I have always been fascinated by the challenge of staging a suspense thriller on stage. We’re all so accustomed to how tension builds on screen, through horror movie conventions like jump scares and extreme camera angles, but time and suspense operate much differently in live theatre. The Birds provides an excellent opportunity to achieve the tension and release of a suspense thriller in a live performance.
Q. The first show you directed in the arena was “Little Women,” a very large cast in three acts. How has that experience affected your direction an approach to “The Birds,” which is a one-act with a cast of four?
KALTWASSER: It’s a much different experience! After directing Little Women last winter, I was excited by the opportunity to work on something that would exercise completely different directorial muscles. With Little Women, we had an expansive story to tell, and it felt important to always keep things moving at a brisk pace. With The Birds, which on paper is only a 40-page script, I knew there would be room to slow the pace and take our time on stage. In fact, allowing moments of quiet between dialogue would enhance the story, allowing the audience to see time pass in this farmhouse and to feel the growing paranoia and claustrophobia that the characters experience as the days go by. Little Women was a great first experience directing in the round, as it provided a significant crash course in learning how to maximize the arena space.
Julia: Aidan Jhane Gallivan
Tierney: Matthew Kraft
Nat: Nick Menzhuber
Diane: Laura Wiebers
ARTISTIC & PRODUCTION STAFF
Director: Seth Kaltwasser
Set Designer: Cory Skold
Lighting Designer: Andrew S. Troth
Costume Designer: Rebecca Karstad
Prop Designer: Maureen Bourgeois
Sound Designer: Robert Hoffman
Stage Manager: Gregory Klimowicz