Encore Michigan

Ten Questions: With Krista Schafer Ewbank

Feature April 10, 2020

Trenton, Mich.–Krista Schafer Ewbank got Open Book Theatre going in the 2014-15 season. The company’s first space was in a “secret” theatre behind the counter in an antique/curiosity shop.

I remember the first time I went to Open Book, stood in line in the shop, and then was let in to “the back.” I really felt like I was on on something, like speakeasy in the 20s, or maybe a hugging room in the age of COVID-19.

Krista Schafer Ewbank (right) and Patrick Loos (left)

As cool as that space was, it wasn’t a long-term solution, and so the search took Ewbank and her creative partners to a strip mall in Trenton. As was the case in the back of the shop, and is now, Open book has had no trouble attracting the best talent to her theatre. Downriver patrons have adopted Open Book as “their theatre.”

Among the interesting array of shows Open Book has produced: Sylvia by A.R. Gurney, Kimberly Akimbo by David Lindsay-Abaire, Dead Man’s Cellphone by Sarah Ruhl, Calypso’s Corner (world premiere) by Emily Rosenbaum, Peter and The Starcatcher (Wilde Award nominee), Picasso at The Lapin Agile by Steve Martin; Emilie: La Marquise Du Chatelet Defends Her Life Tonight by Lauren Gunderson (Wilde Award for Best Lead Actress in a Play for Ewbank), Ada And The Engine by Laura Gunderson.

Krista Schafer Ewbank (left)

The theatre gets reconfigured but is an intimate black box theatre usually with three sets of riser seats facing a non-elevated performance space. Open Book is still unknown to too many people in SE Michigan. Hopefully when we all return to going to engaging professional theatre, more folks will find their way Downriver.

We posed James Lipton’s eight questions–the ones he asked actors, writers and directors on his Actors Studio TV program, and we added two of our own–to Open Book Artistic Director and Founder Krista Schafer Ewbank.

What is your favorite word? Yay! The word itself isn’t so great, but I use it all the time to celebrate and express joy. 

What is your least favorite word? Cancelled.  This word is making me very sad lately.

What turns you on? Passion and curiosity – a desire to learn and play and grow

What Turns You Off? Mean people and know-it-alls

What sound or noise do you love? Water. Waves on the shore, the gentle babble of a river, a waterfall.  It’s so centering for me.

What sound or noise do you dislike? Feedback.

What is your favorite curse-word? FUCK. I say it a lot the closer we get to opening a show. And these days… working on home improvement projects.

What profession other than your own would you like to attempt? Camp director. I was a counselor and program director all my summers in college, and I just loved it. 

*What play would you do if you were told you had just one more play? Wow. That’s a tough one.  If I had to go out with a bang… I’d say Angels in America… playing Harper.  I’m too old for it now, but if I just had one left? fuck it.  Harper. Plus, I might as well milk my last one for all it’s worth. That’s 8 hours of brilliant writing, right there.  More life.

*What role remains on your bucket list? —Hm…. I’ve had the privilege of playing so many of my bucket list roles.  It’s been a long time since I’ve read the script… but there’s an old aunt who talks to rocks in Martin McDonagh’s play The Cripple of Inishmaan. I’ve always thought it would be fun to play her, with my college bestie Carrie as her sister.

Week of 10/19/2020

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