Interview with Brenna Geffers

Fri, 12/22/2017

Read what Director Brenna Geffers has to say about Really by Jackie Sibblies Drury



Welcome back to Exile! What have you been working on since you were last here?

I’ve tried to work on a wide style of shows and I think I have worked about 20 shows since Knives in Hens with Exile. I love working on classic pieces like The Hairy Ape where the text can be paired with strong physical movement. I really enjoy creating new pieces of theater, from adaptations like my Anna, which was nominated for a few Barrymores this year to original works like The Life (and death) of Harry Houdini, to even librettos for new operas like my Shadow House, which was an immersive opera that allowed audiences to follow different storylines around a historic mansion. I made a piece that was mostly silent called It Girl that was like a living silent film. I have even gotten in a few musicals, like A Funny Thing Happened on the way to the Forum. I recently founded a new company called Die-Cast with my favorite collaborator, Thom Weaver. We premiered the company in September with a version of Pericles that we staged on a model boat on Cape Cod, with actors climbing up the rigging and jumping around a huge historic schooner. I am very lucky because sometimes I get to travel, having spent one summer in San Francisco and Northern California studying at the Dell’Arte Institute. I have taken shows up to Provincetown for the last two summers and this summer I drove around the country for a month, taking a show to different states. Well, technically, I ride around the country with my partner Ross Beschler doing most of the driving. One of the highlights of my time since being at Exile was spending some time wandering around Athens, Greece while my partner studied with an amazing physical theater company. I have been making shows and working with some of the loveliest artists and met a lot of great new collaborators over the last few years.


What do you find most interesting with a piece like Really? What drew you to the script?
I love the way Really overlaps time, meaning, and personal experiences into a beautiful collage. It is at once a piece about human beings dealing with loss, the distance between the two very different women, and a moving treatise on art and how the canon of white male artists can create a vacuum. It is so beautiful.



What makes Really an Exile show? What makes it a Brenna show?
Really is a perfect piece for Exile because I think Exile really excels with stories about the complexity of humanity. It is not a clear-cut story but one where the inner lives of the characters are slowly revealed. Their pain slowly comes into focus like a photo developing before your eyes. But so does their love. I think that is Exile’s secret superpower; the work is driven by an engine of love. Love can be dark and even destructive sometimes. But when I think of pieces like American Buffalo, Virginia Woolf, Guards at the Taj, and so many of my favorite Exile shows, it is the love between the characters that Exile really focuses on. I hope Really will live up to that legacy.



What do you hope audiences will take away from your production of Really?
I think the character of the Girlfriend has some beautiful and important insights about art right now. The first time I read the piece, my heart was shouting “Yes! I know!” It was like having a personal conversation with an intimate friend. Like any good conversation, I left it knowing more than I had before it started. I don’t want to say more, but I cannot wait to talk to people after the show to hear their thoughts about the ideas Really presents. Plus Thom and I are hoping to create a special place for the audience to experience and then reflect on Really