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Municipal drama arrives at the TRTC mainstage

Thunder River Theatre is taking municipal matters to their main stage, in their new show The Minutes. The show is described as a dark comedy filled with allegory and elements of mystery, and is set in the framework of a town council meeting, with a cast of eleven displaying the array of characters one encounters in local government.
KDNK’s Hattison Rensberry asked the cast and crew about what kinds of antics in the town council setting may be familiar to viewers.

"Moore: Missy Moore, director. This play is structured around a town council meeting. That is a closed session. It is a dark comedy, but you come to realize that there are a lot of false truths that come to light that reflect the history of the town. And it is essentially up to this group of people to see if they have the power within themselves to change the narrative.

Rensberry: In local town council meetings, often each person involved has their own prerogatives. Do you want to talk about what your character's prerogative is for this show?

Gonzalez: This is Diego. I'm playing Blake. Blake is a character that I get very familiar personally. He's a smart butt guy, you know, and he kind of has this attitude towards everyone that it's just very, very, um, uh, for me, it's very funny to, to play and actually mess with all the cast members as well. Once again, Blake as the character is just something that you guys are going to be like, wow, this kid is ridiculous.

DeLent: Yeah. William, I play Hanratty. Actually, my character has a particular rivalry with Diego's character, Blake. And, um, my character comes in with a presentation for this new. fountain that depicts, uh, one of the heroes of the town through its early days in history, but it's for an accessible fountain, so he's pushing for a whole new rebuild of this fountain that has accessibility for wheelchairs, because his sister, uh, is confined to a wheelchair. But I think you'll see as it goes on, there's a lot of contradictions and hypocrisy, uh, in his character as well as everyone else.

Rensberry: How many of you took the time to watch some town council meetings in preparation for this show?

DeLent: I didn't watch any local stuff, but I have seen some, you know, footage over the years of Congress and the Senate and actually for this play, I think that British Parliament was more apropos to some of the interactions and personal interrelations between council members.

Rensberry: Interesting. Okay. Is that... Is that the tone of the comedy? Is that partially how they interact on a dialogue basis?

DeLent: Yeah, it gets a little catty at times, and between many of the different characters and their head butting, and again, particularly between Blake and Hanratty.

Gonzalez: One of the things that we, especially Hanratty's proportion is, is something that we see a lot of in political stuff. Sometimes it's very selfish, but it's not just what, uh, not just about him. Every character has a specific thing, you know, that we're going to be dropping hands while in the play. And Blake is, once again, somebody that likes to be funny, but at the same time is like over the top funny. You know, he's actually making sure that his presence is more like, ‘I'm getting into your skin right now.’

Rensberry: Looking at some of your other choices for this season, Missy, where does this fit in sort of the progression of your picks for the season? What was your hope in choosing this piece?

Moore: Well, first and foremost, I love Tracy Letts. Um, he is the playwright of the piece. Tracy Letts has the wonderful ability to catch the dark side of the human experience and shed light on it in a very interesting and in this particular play, comedic way. This was actually the first show that I secured the rights for, and it was because I wanted to, engage my local audience into a deeper political narrative. Um, if I do my job correctly in the theater, that means that the conversation goes beyond the doors of the theater. I kind of want to throw this over to Emily Henley. She's in a brand new position with us, and we have some very, very new actors that are gracing the stage. Diego is one of them. Along with an actor from Grand Junction and an equity actor from Denver. I would love for Emily to talk a little bit about this experience too.

Henley: Emily Henley, assistant director. I think with this show specifically, I was, number one so excited to get to collaborate with Missy in a different role as assistant director and just to really take a look at building a show from a different point of view. But I think with this piece specifically, something that has truly resonated with me as someone who was born and raised in Carbondale, Colorado, specifically, I am infinitely familiar with the small town pride, the small town home. And working on a piece that is so poignantly about small town politics resonates with me personally, very, very deeply and seeing some of the ways these characters really have deep histories with one another. This play, I think, holds up a mirror in a really beautiful way that I truly believe, as someone from this town, is going to really, really resonate with our audience.

One thing I would say about this show is watch closely. I think Tracy Letts does a beautiful job of hiding incredible nuggets of gold in the mundane. And this is one where, if you gloss over for a second, you could miss it.

Gonzalez: Definitely keep an eye on every single character, every single one of us.

DeLent: I recommend seeing it twice, because there is, you know, secrets and spoilers and stuff the first time, and then when you can go back, you can see all those details that they were talking about and the subtle little hints."

That was KDNK’s Hattison Rensberry speaking with Missy Moore, William LeDent, Diego Gonzalez, and Emily Henley. The Minutes opens tonight, November 10th and runs through November 26th. Tickets for evening and matinee shows are available at: thunder river theatre dot com

Hattison Rensberry has a Bachelor’s Degree in Graphic Design and Drawing, but has worked for newsrooms in various capacities since 2019.