'Hunter Gatherers' aims to uncover bloody heart beneath society

Categories: Theater
HunterGatherers.jpg
Photo by Liz Josheff
Richard (Dan Hopman), Wendy (Bethany Ford), Tom (Kevin McLaughlin) and Pam (Jen Scott) from Red Eye's Hunter Gatherers.
​At an annual dinner party between two couples, the everyday layers of society are about to be stripped away. What's underneath is what fascinates Steve Busa, who is directing Red Eye Theater's production of Peter Sinn Nachtrieb's Hunter Gatherers.

Busa has long admired the work of Nachtrieb, whose contemporary plays have been produced throughout the country. Hunter Gatherers earned a number of nods along the way, including the 2007 American Theatre Crititc's Steinberg Award for best new play.

"There is such a sophistication in his writing, and the subject matter he uses interests me greatly. He has a different kind of perspective," Busa says.

In Hunter Gatherers, the two couples graduated high school together in 1988, and don't seem to have moved beyond that time in their lives. This is reflected in their musical tastes (Busa warns that there will be lots of era-specific music included, and it's not going to be cool) and their inability to get over the roles that they had as teenagers.

"There's a contemporary desire we all have to escape the limitations that we've made for ourselves," Busa says. "There's this window dressing of civility and friendship, but underneath it all is the battle of the heart and mind."

Plays of this ilk are certainly nothing new, from the razor-sharp barbs in Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf to the more recent savage farce, God of Carnage. Hunter Gatherers "is terribly timely, as it looks at the way things are spinning out of control. Nobody really has a grip anymore on the changes," Busa says. 

While these themes -- uncovering the darkness below, the battle between the heart and the mind -- are present, it's vital for the show to be peopled with complex, breathing characters. Busa and the actors went through "a discovery to see what makes these people tick, and to really get inside of them. These people are not comments on society, but doing the best that she or he can do. We wanted to see how they think and how others perceive them."

And with all of that, there is one other major point. "The show is very, very funny. It's an irreverent satire all of the way," Busa says.

Hunter Gatherers opens Friday and runs through October 30.
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