For Chung, Free the Beast will provide funding for her commission and two workshops of her play, one a four-week production with Ma-Yi Theater Company in New York. “It’s a luxury,” she said. “But it also feels like this is the way theater should be made.”
Schaeffer’s degree of risk
On Saturday, Signature Theater Artistic Director Eric Schaeffer will be awarded an honorary doctorate by his alma mater, Kutztown University, in Pennsylvania. Which means, in addition to scoring one of those gowns with velvet stripes on the sleeves, Schaeffer is going to have to give a speech.
“They said, ‘If you can inspire the kids, that would be great.’ ”
Oh. Well. Wish they could’ve been a little more vague.
“I want to talk to them about not being afraid to just go down a different road,” said Schaeffer, speaking by phone from Los Angeles where he was staging his Tony-nominated revival of “Follies.” “If you try to plan everything so particularly about your life, you end up not really living your life. When opportunities arise, you just have to be able to take the risk and go there.”
Schaeffer, who earned his BFA at Kutztown in 1984, knows all about taking a different road: He graduated with a degree in advertising but opted out of the Don Draper route to work in theater instead. Theater “was something I never would have thought of as being my career,” he said, even though he acted in plays and musicals and directed a show for children while he was an undergrad.
“I played Herman in ‘Sweet Charity,’ the guy who sings ‘I love to cry at weddings,’ ” said Schaeffer. “They had me in a skullcap, and I was smoking cigars . . . and in ‘Fiddler on the Roof’ I was the rabbi’s son. You had this Pennsylvania Dutch boy playing a young Jewish rabbi’s son, which was pretty ridiculous, too.”
“My family has such a long tradition of going to that school,” said Schaeffer. His grandfather attended Kutztown, as did his dad, his uncle and his nephew. His niece is a student there, as well.