Meet the Artist: OUTSIDE MULLINGAR Director (And ATC Artistic Director) David Ivers

Meet the Artist: OUTSIDE MULLINGAR Director (And ATC Artistic Director) David Ivers

AUTHOR: Erin Treat Schauer, Dramaturg for Outside Mullingar and ATC Online Engagement Coordinator

David Ivers is in his first season as Artistic Director of Arizona Theatre Company. He was most recently the Artistic Director of the Utah Shakespeare Festival, where he has acted and directed over 50 productions in a relationship spanning 20 seasons. His tenure there is marked by a significant re-brand of the organization and several key initiatives, including the launch of WORDS (cubed) new play program, which featured the World Premiere of Neil LaBute’s How to Fight Loneliness, which he directed in August.

Outside Mullingar is his directorial debut as ATC’s Artistic Director. We sat down with him shortly before the holidays – and just before the show’s first rehearsal.

ATC:
How does it feel to be heading into your first show as Artistic Director?

MR. IVERS:
It sort of feels like the first day of school – it feels like I got up very early, had my coffee, sharpened my pencils. There’s something really validating that makes it feel real: being here at Arizona Theatre Company now, being in the rehearsal room – which is really the place most artistic directors want to be. I am excited, I am nervous, I am inspired and humbled by our company. We’re on the precipice of discovery, and it’s kind of a neat place to be.

ATC:
What drew you to Outside Mullingar?

MR. IVERS:
[Last year,] David Ira Goldstein told me that if I were to accept the job here, there was in the fourth slot a title yet-to-be-determined, and he asked if I had thoughts about it. He had some parameters in terms of size and scale, and I immediately said, “John Patrick Shanley’s Outside Mullingar.” It’s a beautifully intimate play, it’s hilarious and heartwarming, it feels like an essential play to begin a new year, it’s a recent play – it was written in 2013 and ran on Broadway in 2014 – and it tugs at my heart in all the ways I think great theatrical experiences tug. And it has an element of surprise, an unexpected quality that reinforces the notion of faith, reinforces the notion of family.

ATC:
The show is very tied to a specific place and culture. How do you think the show speaks to Arizona audiences?

MR. IVERS:
It’s an Irish play, and one thing about the Irish culture that I think we share here in Arizona in terms of both cities we serve – and the whole state – is that there is an incredible sense of a nation-state, there’s an incredible sense of the citizenry being bound together by tradition. That’s one of the surprising and wonderful things I’ve learned about Arizona: Arizona cares deeply about Arizona – but not just because “We’re the state of Arizona, we have to be proud, we have to have a kind of patriotism for our state” – but also because some of the largest institutions are built to serve. The University of Arizona, Arizona State University, some prolific community colleges, a huge arts scene, a big science scene, industry – those institutions are built to serve a human experience. The Irish obviously care about the human experience – I think they’re a bit more downtrodden than our optimistic Arizonans – but at the center of the story is the common denominator for us all, which ultimately is love and finding context in your future through the people that you call your family. I know that we can relate to that, and I know that its humor and its heart will lift our audiences.

ATC:
What are you most looking forward to as you head into rehearsal?

MR. IVERS:
I have four people in this cast who are part of my life in the most wonderful ways. Between them, I’ve shared decades of time together: onstage, offstage, through thick and thin – friendship, tragedy, laughter. John Hutton, Robynn Rodriguez, Larry Bull – they were there when my first son was born, and I had to leave stage during a play to attend to my wife, who was giving birth to our son early. So the extension of the family element of the narrative into the rehearsal room, our shared history together – and laughter and discovery and true collaboration – that’s what’s it’s all about.

ATC:
Are there moments in the play that you can already tell the audience might want to look out for?

MR. IVERS:
There are moments in the play that I respond to because I associate certain things in my life with them. The idea of the wandering man who’s trying to find his way, the idea of loss – I lost my father when I was a relatively young man, so that’s hugely resonant. Those elements are what makes the theatre so unexpected. I don’t know who’s going to be here on a given night who’s lost their father or their mother. Those things give way to tremendous pathos in the play, and tremendous connectivity. And that is one of the gifts about the theatre: the makeup of an audience on any given night means the surprises will be different within the audience – from generation to generation – who will relate to what characters.

Comments

  1. Lynda Menis says:

    I have been a fan of yours for years, having loved and attended the Utah Shakespeare Festival for many seasons. Welcome to Tucson! Any chance Brian and family might follow?

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