Spotlight: Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day

Photo by Rob Levine

What with a new season about to go supernova, it isn't easy to get Children's Theatre Company artistic director Peter Brosius on the horn. Last week he squeezed in a half-hour call before morning work on Average Family, which opens September 4. Talking about this world premiere by Larissa FastHorse, Brosius came across with his characteristic blend of candor and enthusiasm (Brosius is on the short list for least-scripted local theater executive, which is intended as a compliment). "It's so smart and funny," he says. "It uses a reality TV show to bring us barreling into Native American history and reality, the relations between what happened on the frontier when the settlers moved into native lands and today, all the while touching on issues that are both topical and ancient." The show promises to be a high point in a varied season that combines shows for smaller children with teen programming such as Fashion 47. "It's a piece about fashion, and it takes inspiration from all kinds of sources: samurai films, Project Runway, betrayals, competition," Brosius says. "And it's not a critique—it's a diving into that world, a celebration, a piece being built in that room. We committed to it with a two-page outline, built in the room, rather than a text-driven narrative." His seat-of-the-pants description belies the fact that this working technique produced one of the great local shows in years, Prom. "We just get really good artists and support them," Brosius says (mentioning offhandedly that the theater has 15 new works in development and "20 others that we're kicking around"). "We give them what they need and get out of their way." As for this weekend's premiere of Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day, as usual, Brosius deflects any notions that the company will pander to a younger audience. "It's a really hip piece of theater," he insists. "It takes a smart, gentle lament and makes it into a high-style lament." Which, of course, is the direction all decent laments should follow.

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