Interview: Peter Diamond '20
This week, justArts spoke with Peter Diamond ’20, who directed Brandeis Players’ production of “Dry Land.”
JustArts: Why did you choose “Dry Land”?
Peter Diamond: “Dry Land” is a reasonable challenge — challenging in the sense that it forces us to make seemingly unlovable characters likable, as the audience’s experience with the show relies on their sympathy with these characters — yet the proximity of these characters’ ages and experiences to those of many college students allowed us to draw upon our own lives a bit in developing our production of this piece. It also assigns some human faces to issues that are especially threatened right now, namely reproductive justice [and] access to safe reproductive health services. I am interested in creating work that could mobilize people around conflicts that we don’t have time to be complacent about in this era.
JA: What was it like using the Multi-Purpose Room?
PD: Because many organizations use the MPR, we had to strike and re-set our scenery each day, which was a bit labor-intensive. Initially my vision involved adding elements to the space that would mask the fact that it isn’t really built for live theater — like flats serving as a back wall, and a portable lighting system — but ultimately these plans did not pan out. That said, we found a vision that, I think, took advantage of our non-traditional space. For example, using the double doors as an entrance and the room lighting may have created a certain intimacy, and a certain effect of ‘transporting’ the audience, that we wouldn’t have achieved in a traditional theater.
JA: What was the most rewarding part of directing the show?
PD: As usual, the great rewards of directing this piece came in the final days when, after weeks of rehearsing the scenes in conference rooms with folding chairs and pantomimed props, we put all the elements together in a form that was fitting for an audience. Until that point, the play itself can feel isolated from the idea of a total production. Many conversations I had with audience members after performances, who found pieces of themselves or their loved ones or their upbringings in this piece, have resonated with me as well.
JA: What was the most difficult part of directing the show?
PD: This play, on one hand, contains certain striking replications to real life — even some of the ugly or boring parts — yet is still a play, still a piece of theatre. Creating near-realism is a tricky balance, because in an effort not to torture this text with a theatricality that it does not warrant, it can be difficult to still maintain an engaging and stage-worthy pace and energy. I think we found a balance in the end.
JA: Were there any things from the script you chose to add or take out?
PD: Our arrangement with the company that owns the royalties to “Dry Land” did not give this production staff authority to alter the script. Furthermore, even without being legally bound, I do not think it is ethical for a director to edit a playwright’s work for a production like this. So, no.