An Interview with new Ensemble Member Eric Wunsch

What is the candidacy process like at BTE? What made you decide to apply for it?

I decided to apply to be a candidate shortly after working as a guest actor in THE STINKY CHEESE MAN. A year prior, I had completed an incredible year here as an acting intern. When I went back to Philly, I thought about BTE and Bloomsburg a lot. I realized how at home I felt here, how BTE is such a unique opportunity for a theatre maker, and missed the people immensely. When I was asked to come back for a year as a guest artist, I was really elated. One show into that season, I knew this is where I wanted to be. It felt pretty vulnerable to put myself out there and apply, and I actually didn't hear back from them with any official answer for months. When I found out they were going to accept me as a candidate, I seriously wept tears of joy (ask Laurie!). This past year has been a crazy whirlwind. Not only was I charged with huge acting responsibilities throughout the year, but I also worked hard at dipping my toes in every aspect of the company. Plus, I GOT MARRIED. Plus, I GOT A DOG. It has been a real big growing year as I learn to put

my adult pants on, I'll tell ya that much. However, I am still just as excited as I was and chomping at the bit for all of the awesome risks and challenges coming up for BTE. Gratitude is not strong enough a word for how I feel about being here. And that folks are interested in my ideas?! Priceless.

What is your theatrical background?

I grew up in a suburb outside of Houston, Tx and did plays at my high school and middle school. The theatre bug had thoroughly bit me. I went to college at University of the Arts in Philly, where I was able to study both the most revered and the most cutting edge approaches to theatre-making. After college, I worked in Philly professionally as an actor and assistant director. I got to work at all kinds of cool places including the Arden Theatre, Philadelphia Shakespeare Theatre, Theatre Exile, etc. I worked on and off in Philly (before and between gigs at BTE) for 3 years. 

What made you come to Bloomsburg in the first place?

I did this mass audition in Philly for all of the area regional theaters, and BTE happened to be there looking for interns. At the time, I had never heard of BTE. The day I auditioned for the internship, I had 2 other auditions, so I didn't think much about it afterwards. When you're in auditioning world, it isn't good to dwell on every audition as it can lead to a lot of heartbreak. I got the call that I was being offered the internship during intermission of a play I was doing at Plays and Players. I was super excited, and I immediately called my old professor (and former BTE member) Whit. He said I had to do it. So I did. 

What are your artistic goals within the ensemble?

Theatre can be a great many things, and most regional theaters (not just BTE) have barely scratched the surface of what is possible. I got exposed to a lot of approaches and artistic experiences in Philly, many of which I thought would be even more appreciated by folks whose lives are not so over-saturated with arts and entertainment. I want to bring new theatre to Bloomsburg. I want to show people, young and old, that theatre still can be for them and that there is theatre out there that can suit just about any taste. The first part of that goal for me has been to introduce newer, edgier plays to BTE that I believe reflect the movement of the entertainment world into riskier places. If TV and movies can do it, so can we! I want to get younger folks into the theater who never thought they could like it in the first place.

What are your favorite things about living in this region?

Bloomsburg is just so beautiful. The Summer and Fall here are incredible. I love to swim in the creek, stair at the trees, and eat yummy food in the backyards of all the wonderful people here. Perhaps I have curated my experience a bit, but by and large the people here have been so generous and welcoming. You people are too kind!

What do you think BTE offers to the community?

I don't think people here know how good they have it with BTE! This theater does a wide variety of material, takes care of its own, has awesome programs for kids of all ages, and really tries to engage and challenge its community. The other side of that coin is that the audience and community supporting the theater is pretty dang unique! The mutual support, respect, and communication are unprecedented. Really! I dare ya to find a professional theater that plants its roots so firmly in a community. It always humbles me.

What is your favorite kind of theatre to watch/be in the audience for?

Ahhh. This is a really tough question. I like all kinds of theatre. I like to feel and think things viscerally and be lifted by what I watch. I think each play or theatre piece falls into a genre and has a subset of devices. Exploiting that genre and devices for all they are worth is I think the mark of true brilliance. That is kind of vague. I like theatre that rocks. I like theatre that makes me cry my eyes out or laugh my head off or infuriates me. I want extreme feelings to be imparted. Lo-fi theatre magic still really excites me as well. Man, I am doing a terrible job answering this question. Come see BODY AWARENESS or THE NETHER this season. Those are the kinds of plays I like.

What partnerships do you hope BTE can create in the future?

I love connecting with other, non-theatre artists in the area. Our previous and upcoming collaborations with musicians like Steve Gilliland or Sydney Pannikar have been really fruitful. We got this local filmmaker Nick Rusnock to do some video stuff for us this year, and I am just pumped. He is an insanely talented filmmaker, visual artist, and musician. It would be my dream to team up with some of the awesome ensembles that I saw in Philly to make some really explosive theatre here. Within the company, I really want to keep digging deep into working with my buddy Richie Cannaday. I think we work really well together and can bring out the best in each other. I want to make more plays with him.

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