100 Colorado Creatives: Amanda Berg Wilson
#39: Amanda Berg Wilson.
Photo by Michael Ensminger. Meridith C Grundei, left.; Jason Maxwell, center; and Amanda Berg Wilson, right.
Amanda Berg Wilson is a juggler of roles, who came to Boulder from Chicago, where she helped found the interdisciplinary performance group Striding Lion. And when she moved to Colorado, she brought with her an adventurously playful breath of creative fresh air. Once here, she founded another company, the Catamounts, with her husband Ben. As she discusses below, the Catamounts don't walk in the same footsteps as all the theater companies that have come before them. Instead, they innovate both onstage and all around it -- with original plays and sometimes with dinner shows that in no way resemble dinner theater, but instead champion the clarion of slow food and brain food intermingled.
We asked Berg Wilson, a force of theatrical nature, to take on our 100CC questionnaire, which she did, as follows, with a mental cartwheel and a rush of smart words.
If you could collaborate with anyone in history, who would it be, and why?
David Vincent Wolf.
This is, of course, an ever-evolving answer, but: I'd love to make a rock musical with Frank Zappa (whose Billy the Mountain I staged in 2005 and 2006 with my Chicago company, Striding Lion, and count it as one of my best theater experiences ever); apprentice Trish Sie and try and apply what she does in an OK Go Video to the stage; get David Foster Wallace to adapt his essay "A Supposedly Fun Thing I'll Never Do Again" into a play I'd then direct -- he supposedly said he's not sure if actors are very stupid or very smart, but I think after a collaborative process with the Catamounts, he'd at least concede we're very fun. I directed an adaptation of a George Saunders piece last year (Jon) and began a correspondence with him that remains one of the biggest thrills of my professional life -- I'd love to get to work with him in collaboration. There are also many living theater artists with whom it would be an honor to collaborate: Tina Landau, Anna Shapiro, Mary Zimmerman, to name a few. It's a good time for theater, despite what lots of folks might say.
Who in the world is interesting to you right now, and why?
Oh gosh. I am one of those people who is interested in pretty much everyone. I find humans endlessly fascinating, which is why I chose to dedicate my life to the artistic examination of human behavior. It's like asking an alcoholic, "What is your favorite booze?" I'm interested in everyone. They pretty much all get me drunk.
What's one art trend you want to see die this year?
The endless producing in the extended Denver theater community of the same five or six plays. I am repeatedly surprised by how companies do not distinguish themselves by the material they choose. I am fortunate that this does not happen in my smaller Boulder theater community -- my brethren and sist-thren at companies like BETC, Local Theatre Company and square product theatre are all staging new, and sometimes experimental or original work, and that helps keep me inspired and growing. I also, by the way, think it's what keeps audiences inspired and growing. I think if more companies had a distinct mission and, just as important, a distinct aesthetic, we'd see a real diversification of the work, and less of this thing where a company closes a play, only to have it open at another theater across town the next week. What is that? It makes no sense to me.
Continue reading for more from Amanda Berg Wilson.