Explore what might have been at MainStage Irving-Las Colinas production “Dear Brutus”

Interview with MainStage Irving-Las Colinas “Dear Brutus” Director Rose Anne Holman.

MainStage Irving-Las Colinas Dear Brutus
Poster for “Dear Brutus.” Image courtesy of MainStage Irving-Las Colinas

Teachers often say not to second-guess yourself and stick with your first choice. That might be sound advice for test-taking, but what about in life? What if you had the chance to see how your life would turn out if you took the other option? MainStage Irving-Las Colinas looks to answer those questions with its latest production of “Dear Brutus” running through March 23.

“Dear Brutus” is a play about second chances, different decisions, and those outcomes. It’s a very complex theme, especially considering that (the creator of Peter Pan), J.M. Barrie, originally wrote the play. “No, it’s not about never growing up,” said director Rose Anne Holman, “It’s certainly about looking at whether or not you are satisfied with the life you’re living.”

“Dear Brutus” marks Holman’s fourth time directing with MainStage Irving-Las Colinas, but first time working with stage manager Lindsey Humphries. “I must be one of the luckiest people around,” Holman said regarding how valuable Humphries has been to the production. Holman said that casting the show had its challenges, given the 11-person cast and the relationships between certain characters in the show. “I really didn’t build off any one character,” she said, “but you always want to make it look like, especially if they are a couple, there is some chemistry there you can build with.”

“Dear Brutus” takes place over three acts. In Act I, the characters are called together to a mansion and meet a mysterious host named Lob, who offers them the opportunity to see what their lives would be like if they made other choices. Act II takes place in a forest by the mansion, where the audience gets to experience those “what ifs” along with the characters. Act III involves the characters reconnecting in the mansion to discuss what happened and what happens next now that they have that insight. 

Holman has made it a point to try and keep the rehearsal time manageable given how large the cast is. “I’m a firm believer that you need to value your actors’ time,” she said. Holman makes it a point to stagger rehearsal start times and days of the week to maximize the actors’ time at rehearsal. For example, if an actor is in Act I and Act III, then Holman will call in the actor and let them focus on their complete role “so that they get their practice in yet they’re not having to be there every night,” she said.

That respect for actors’ time helps at the beginning of rehearsals, but eventually, everything needs to come together into a complete, straight-through rehearsal. It’s that time that Holman really felt the show come together as the actors progressed from just reciting lines to a deeper understanding of their characters. “When they ran the show in order and they could feel how their characters are developing. I think that I could sit back and go, ‘I believe that,’” she said.

Holman went on to praise the entire cast, noting that running through scenes has sometimes necessitated changes to keep sight lines and blocking clean. “I will say my cast has been wonderful about adapting to those changes,” she said.

While the plot of “Dear Brutus” may evoke memories of the old TV show “Fantasy Island,” Holman stressed that it’s not. Holman went on to say that “Fantasy Island” involved everyone simply getting what they wanted, while “Dear Brutus” is more about the deeper revelations of understanding what it is you exactly do want.

“I want people to feel good that (they) have choices,” Holman said, and that people can “make other people’s lives better (and) can have a wonderful life.” She also wants people to remember that sometimes, rather than wishing for things and what might have been, “maybe you need to be grateful for what you do have.”

“Dear Brutus” runs through March 23 at MainStage Irving-Las Colinas. For tickets and information, go to https://mainstageirving.com/dear-brutus/


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