What Boise Contemporary Theater’s New Original Play Is About, So Far

Dec 24, 2013

Boise Contemporary Theater (BCT) has earned respect producing works by nationally-known playwrights. The company is also demonstrating it can create strong original work in-house.

Early in 2013, BCT debuted A Nighttime Survival Guide. It was written by Artistic Director Matthew Cameron Clark and Education Director Dwayne Blackaller, and it was a hit for the theater.

Matthew Cameron Clark and Dwayne Blackaller work on The Uncanny Valley in their basement office at Boise Contemporary Theater.
Credit Adam Cotterell / Boise State Public Radio

We’re following the two as they work on their next play The Uncanny Valley. Opening night is April 2, and Blackaller says the play is about half-written. Here’s where it stands now.

The Uncanny Valley is set in the future at an artists’ retreat in Idaho’s Sawtooth Mountains, made to look like it’s from the past. The Longhouse, the retreat, was created by the wealthy Durney family who commission artists to live and work there. Its current occupant is a photographer, played by Carie Kawa who co-stared with Blackaller in A Nighttime Survival Guide.

“She’s moderately famous for taking pictures of herself falling. Naked and falling,” Blackaller says of the character. “The only time she sees life in her eyes is when she’s falling. She started from a standing position but that no longer works so she has to get slightly higher and more dangerous [each time] to capture that same feeling.”

She’s alone except for the caretaker Stanley, played by Boise acting mainstay Stitch Marker. Stanley is a robot, or what’s known in the world of the play as an automaton. The Durney family got rich in the automaton industry.

The tension comes when the current generation of Durneys shows up unexpectedly at the Longhouse. They’re two brothers played by Justin Ness and Matthew Cameron Clark. One heads the family business and is accompanied by his wife, who is an artist herself, and played by Tracy Sunderland. The other brother is the family failure. He hitchhikes through the mountains to get to the Longhouse and is running away from some tragedy.

Blackaller says the science-fiction elements serve the themes they want to explore. “The artist who’s been hired to live [at the Longhouse] is very keen on discovering what’s true and what’s real and what’s authentic,” he says. “So the question of what’s real and what’s not is an important one, and what’s human and what’s not.”

Copyright 2013 Boise State Public Radio