Recently, Gianna had a chance to communicate with Sean Graney, the director of CTC’s Busytown the Musical. Here is the full interview.
Who is Sean Graney and what is your theatrical background?
Sean Graney is a theater adapter/director originally from Saugus, Massachusetts. He is the founding director of The Hypocrites, a Chicago theater company, and was its artistic director for 14 years. Graney has taught at Columbia College Chicago, Lake Forest College, the Theater School at DePaul University, and the University of Chicago.
Graney has created a giant 12-hour theatrical adaptation combining all 32 surviving Greek tragedies, titled All Our Tragic. He aims to introduce modern audiences to a classical theatrical tradition: the immersive, durational-theater experience of the ancient Greeks, which was designed to encourage civic conversation about important contemporary topics by incorporating music, politics, and eating. After a diligent 18 months of writing, which generated more than 1,200 pages of drama, Graney plans to use his fellowship to bring this massive project closer to production.
Graney received his BFA from Emerson College and has written and adapted several plays, most recently Sophocles: Seven Sicknesses, an adaptation of all seven surviving texts of Sophocles, which had successful runs in both New York and Chicago. As a director, he has helmed more than 30 productions for The Hypocrites since 1997. He was a participant in the NEA/TCG Career Development Program for Theatre Directors. He has won four Jeff Awards. His work has been seen at American Repertory Theater, Chicago Children’s Theatre, Chicago Shakespeare Theater, Court Theatre, Goodman Theatre, Milwaukee Repertory Theater, Shakespeare Festival St. Louis, and Steppenwolf for Young Adults.
How long have you been directing?
Almsot 20 years.
What is some of your favorite work?
My favorite work is my play All Our Tragic running right now, in Chicago. You can read more here: http://www.the-hypocrites.com/production/all-our-tragic/
Have you worked with Children’s Theatre Company in the past?
No, I was hired to do Lord of the Flies about 4 years ago but due to budget cuts the show was cancelled. So this is my debut.
What made you interested in directing Busytown?
I love the books growing up. How wonderful and detailed the drawings were. I think the musical was so fun.
Being that you are currently living in Chicago, how do you like working in Minneapolis?
I loved my time in Minneapolis, it is a great city. It is easy to get around and there is a lot to do. The people at the theater are extremely wonderful collaborators. Also there is a donut shop by the theater that seeks fresh vegan donuts. They were yummy. What’s not to love?
What were some of the challenges in directing Busytown? And what were some of the exciting accomplishments?
The script is a written to leave much room for discovery in the rehearsal room and Kevin Kling the wonderful playwright encouraged us all to take risk and modify his script. This was a challenge to navigate some of the more ambiguous moments in the script. But it provided a huge sense of accomplishment once we found something that clicked with for us. The actors were always open and eager to make discoveries. It was so much fun working with them.
What is your favorite scene?
The finale, which is a birthday scene for Grandma Bear. I think the actors create a really fun environment and still manage to touch upon a genuine sweetness.