George Brant Light Meets Dark: His Increasingly Popular Works Run the Gamut from Hilarious to Heartfelt, with a Touch of the Macabre

By Napoleon, Davi | American Theatre, September 2013 | Go to article overview

George Brant Light Meets Dark: His Increasingly Popular Works Run the Gamut from Hilarious to Heartfelt, with a Touch of the Macabre


Napoleon, Davi, American Theatre


IN 1991, ASPIRING ACTOR GEORGE BRANT HAD just finished a BFA at Northwestern University, in the suburbs of Chicago. He moved into the city to audition. And audition. Then he thought, "Why don't I just write a part for myself?"

[ILLUSTRATION OMITTED]

The result was Lovely Letters, a satire of A.R. Gurney's popular concoction Love Letters. The play called for just two podiums and three actors--Brant added a mailman--so it was immanently producible. Rents were low, and, by 1993, Brant was writing, directing and acting at his own theatre, Zeppo.

The son of a lawyer and a pianist, Brant, now 43, grew up in Park Ridge, Ill., seeing Sondheim musicals with his parents and casting family members in home performances of The Wizard of Oz. "He always had a bigger perspective--he saw the whale show, so it made sense he would be a director/writer/producer," says actor J.P. Manoux, who co-authored two early plays with Brant, including Tights on a Wire, about rival circus families.

Brant's plays for Zeppo were often satires of well-known stories, histories or other plays. In Night of the Mime, he parodied Old Yeller and other coming-of-age and death-of-a-pet stories. His BORGLUM! The Mount Rushmore Musical was a pseudo-biography of the South Dakota landmark's sculptor.

Soon, Brant was exclusively performing offstage roles, replacing himself with actors he thought were better. Others began directing his plays, too. Derek Goldman, now artistic director of Georgetown University's Davis Performing Arts Center in D.C., staged some of Brant's early plays at his own 1990s Chicago theatre, StreetSigns. "Everyone around him found him to be the funniest person they knew, as a human being, a performer and a writer of brilliant and irreverent parodies," Goldman declares.

No one could have guessed how dark a turn Brant's stories would later take. "Mostly, I poked fun at theatre, and theatre has a hard enough time of it," Brant decided. He challenged himself to make a statement of his own, without making fun of other people's points of view. With The Royal Historian of Oz, for instance, he tried his hand at a sincere play about author L. Frank Baum, a play that "wore its heart on its sleeve."

In the meantime, another artist was tackling Brant's early work--Laura Kepley, a directing student two years behind him at Northwestern. Kepley met the "hilarious" play Tights on a Wire before she met its co-author Brant.

"She was a better director than I am," acknowledges Brant. Over the course of the '90s, Brant "moved from actor/director/writer to just being a writer," he says. In 2001, he and Kepley married.

Success struck both of them, and juggling careers became a challenge. In 2002, Kepley was accepted to the Brown/Trinity MFA program in directing in Providence, R.I., while Brant got the green light to pursue an MFA in playwriting at the Michener Center for Writers at the University of Texas--Austin. Brant decided to put his own training on hold and moved to Rhode Island with his wife.

FAST FORWARD TO FALL 2013: GROUNDED, BRANT'S new one-woman play about the war in Afghanistan, is being produced all over the country and beyond. In the United Kingdom, the Gate Theatre opened the work this past August at the Edinburgh Festival, then moved it to the Gate's space in London. Almost simultaneously, the National New Play Network--which gave the play its 2012 Smith Prize, a $5,000 commission--began rolling out the show, with productions at San Francisco Playhouse (through Sept. 7), Borderlands Theater in Tucson, Ariz. (Sept. 26-Oct. 13), and Unicorn Theatre in Kansas City, Mo. (coming up in January and February 2014). In 2014, productions of Grounded are also slated at Page 73 in New York City, City Theatre of Pittsburgh and American Blues Theater of Chicago. Oberon Books published the script in August.

[ILLUSTRATION OMITTED]

In Grounded, an F-16 fighter pilot is reassigned to the Air Force's drone program, shooting a remote-controlled Reaper in Afghanistan from a trailer near Las Vegas. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

George Brant Light Meets Dark: His Increasingly Popular Works Run the Gamut from Hilarious to Heartfelt, with a Touch of the Macabre
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Author Advanced search

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.