We're drawing closer to the end of Partial Comfort's 8th season with this weekend 's final performances of Sam Hunter's A BRIGHT NEW BOISE. Join us this weekend in congratulating Sam, director Davis McCallum, talented cast, production team, and Partial Comfort family that made this production a success - 5 out of 5 stars in Time Out, New York Times Critics' Pick, and glowing reviews in NY Magazine's Stage Dive as well as L Magazine.
At the center of this production - and duly credited for his remarkable performance - is PCP's Andrew Garman, playing the lead character Will. With tremendous humility, Will recently left small-town life near Coeur D’Alene, Idaho for a fresh start in the bigger city of Boise. (Sam is from Moscow, Idaho and so we are able to see his personal connection with the culture and beliefs of his home state.) Will finds a job at the local Hobby Lobby, a mega-chain craft store with an unusual cadre of employees. There’s a reason why he finds himself at this particular Hobby Lobby in Boise – he wants a reunion with Alex, his estranged 17-year-old son who is a star employee there.
Andrew has been a member of Partial Comfort since 2008. You may recognize him from his performance in THE BEREAVED, the featured production from season 7 written by Thomas Bradshaw. In addition to Partial Comfort, Andrew has worked with such theaters as The Public, The Tank, La Mama and many regional theaters across the country. He has worked with esteemed actor/directors Estelle Parsons (Salome, his Broadway debut) and Austin Pendleton (Uncle Vanya with Classic Stage) and appeared in such films as Julie and Julia and Simple Revenge to name a few.
Here's what Andrew had to say about his introduction to his character, A BRIGHT NEW BOISE, and his experience as a company member with Partial Comfort.
Andrew - thanks for doing this! Talk to us a little bit about your first impressions of Sam's play.
I read the Preliminary First Draft (that’s what Sam called it, and I still have it actually) in June. Immediately I was struck by the specificity of language and humor .. and the realism! I’d been a great admirer of Sam’s stuff for awhile, but I’d never heard this kind of dialogue in his plays: “Uh—I was, it was sort of like, uh—bookkeeping?” And that’s in the first scene. By the time I finished reading the draft, I knew whatever we ended up with on stage was going to be powerful. It’s so wonderful, and pretty rare, to feel that way about a first pass. Right from the initial draft there was a startling blend of huge comedic scenes countered with really quiet, intense stuff. I remember thinking “this is such great writing” as well as, “how the fuck can this work?” I love having that problem! Especially when you have a great director, Davis McCallum, who is particularly skilled, among so many things, at integrating those elements.
I know you grew up in a small rural town. I’m assuming you’ve used your background to inform your understanding of life in Idaho, no?
It’s true, I grew up in Pennsylvania in a town of about 2000 people .. which is actually one third the size of my character Will’s hometown of Rathdrum, Idaho.
I knew (or knew of) most of the people in my town and they knew of me .. particularly when I screwed up, and made “news.” That happened a few time, oh yes. I guess I share that aspect with my character. Certainly Will, or at least Will’s religious community, has made some pretty dramatic news ... the kind that doesn’t go away.
Other than that, I’m not sure my small-town experience specifically informs my understanding of Will. I certainly can relate to aspects of Will as a human being though. His awkwardness, his attempts to do the right thing, his inner struggle, loneliness, his need to believe in something ... we can all relate to those things.
You’ve been with Partial Comfort since 2008. What drew you to the company?
Michael Gladis is a good friend of mine with whom I’d done a play years ago. I went to see a show he was in called ‘nami, and I was pretty much blown away. There was something deeply courageous about the acting. And about the play itself. It was my first experience with Partial Comfort. Out for drinks after the show, I had a chance to meet and talk with Chad Beckim, the playwright, and the cast. At some point thereafter, I was invited to the PCP summer retreat. And that sealed the deal for me.
In your time with us, what have you found memorable? Retreats, productions, anecdotes – anything that comes to mind.
I’ve been in two fantastic shows as a Partial Comfort member: The Bereaved, and this one, A Bright New Boise. I’m not sure I can imagine two shows more utterly different, by the way! I’ve also done several readings. But, in a way, my favorite aspect of the company is the summer retreat. There’s something kind of perfect about creative people living together for a short period of time, outside of the City, with the shared intention of developing new plays. I’ve seen some outstanding work generated from that kind of intensity – writing, acting, really productive criticism – sometimes all at once. And I know people in other theater companies who feel the same way about their retreats. I just sort of love that idea. At the end of each retreat, I’m always exhausted for exactly the right reasons.
As for memorable moments related to PCP? That’s kind of easy -- I met my wife Ana at The Main(e) Play. Well, at the bar thereafter. And yes, that was definitely memorable!
Other than A BRIGHT NEW BOISE, what have you been working on in 2010? Where can we look forward to seeing you next?
Before Boise I did a really cool new play written by Anna Ziegler called Sunlight In A Cafeteria, based on the Edward Hopper painting. I’ve got a few things in the cooker. I’m a little superstitious about talking about things before they happen ... because then they don’t happen. It’s true. I’ll let you know!
Anything you’d like to sign-off with relating to Partial Comfort or A BRIGHT NEW BOISE?
I think we are all proud of this show. It’s an amazing thing to rehearse a brand spanking new play knowing that we have a month to make it happen. Sam would sit in rehearsal with his notepad and computer, Davis with his yellow legal pad, and we’d work the scenes. The next day, Sam would return with sometimes 20 new pages. And it was like that, more or less, pretty much up until the first preview. At some point, when we were off-book, Sam would just call out line changes.
I’m a big fan of play development – readings, workshops, etc – but there’s something amazing about building a play from the ground up. Being a part of that. It was exciting, exhausting, and it made me fucking nuts at times. Someone recently asked me if he could see the final script. I don’t really have it! Not in the completed form. I suppose Sam has it. Maybe.
There is still time to catch this show! Join us at the theater - if you are unable to purchase tickets online, we encourage you to stop by the theater. We will gladly keep a waitlist, beginning 1 hour prior to curtain, in the event that extra seats should open up.
Remaining Performances: Thursday, Friday and Saturday (September 30 - October 2) at 8pm, Saturday afternoon at 2pm
The Wild Project - 195 E. 3rd
Produced by Partial Comfort Productions