by Beth Kander
directed by Kyle Haden
One apartment. Two different eras. Each creating unlikely friendships. In 1955, two widows explore a blossoming connection against all odds. In 2015, two reluctant co-workers sift through the belongings of an elderly and mysterious Jane Doe. Each pair discovers that in order to connect they must be willing to sort through, and learn from, the past. Hazardous Materials was a highlight of 2018’s Headwaters New Play Festival. We are thrilled to be able to bring this American play to our CRT audience for the first time.
Hazardous Materials was developed through Ashland New Plays Festival and the Headwaters New Play Festival, with additional workshopping at Equity Library Theatre and The Ruckus in Chicago and Out Front Theatre in Atlanta. The Creede Repertory Theatre production represents its world premiere.
Director – Kyle Haden
Scenic Design – Lindsay Fuori (Terrence and Polly Jones Scenic Designer)
Costume Design – Alethia Moore-Del Monico
Lighting Design – Kristof Janezic
Sound Design – Jacob K. Harbour
Stage Manager – Victoria Esquibell*
Asst. Stage Manager – McKenna Warren
Asst. Stage Manager – Caroline Castleman
Esther – Kate Berry*
Linley – Jeri Marshall*
Hal – Dustin Bronson*
Cassie – DeAnna Wright*
1st Southwest Bank
*Member of Actors’ Equity Association, the Union of Professional Actors and Stage Managers in the United States.
When a world is awash in anxiety, worry, and fear, and when accumulating things becomes a way to deflect and manage those feelings, the stack will keep getting bigger and bigger. – Gregory L Jantz, PhD
Hope is the thing with feathers. – Emily Dickinson
When I think about Hazardous Materials, a play I’ve been fortunate enough to have been with throughout the development process from its very first reading, I think of these lovely characters Beth Kander has created. I think about the intersection of their lives and the overlapping stories about to unfold in front of you. I also think about the fifth character, the apartment where the story takes place, and what that apartment has seen over the years…but, mostly, I think of detritus, of clutter, and how we humans deal with our physical and emotional baggage.
We all keep things. I know I do. In the back of my closet I have more than a dozen old t-shirts dating back at least a decade I can’t bear to part with. My office in Pittsburgh is filled with old scripts and notebooks I never open. Maybe someday I’ll need those notes about Tennessee Williams, I tell myself. And at my parents’ house in Maryland I have a series of shoeboxes, filled with mementos for each school year, dating back to middle school. I can’t tell you the last time I’ve opened them. Probably to dig out some play I did back in the day.
The thought of someone rooting through my stuff sixty years in the future is a strange one, and oddly comforting in some way. (They’ll also have a massive digital footprint to investigate). But…what will that information really reveal about me? Do my old notebooks and t-shirts reveal some hidden truth? Or is it just the act of a sentimental man who doesn’t want to let go of the past?
In the end, I don’t think this is just a play about the things we leave behind; I think it’s a story full of characters who push us to think about what we want to do, and who we want to be. We get so caught up in “stuff,” but in the end, we can’t take any of it with us – and it may not even accurately reflect our own stories. I hope I will be defined by my actions, my contributions, the lives I touch, the art I share – and not simply by my t-shirts and notebooks.
It’s been tremendously rewarding to follow the play through the development the last three years – especially this last step with the wonderful people here in Creede – and I know I speak for Beth when I say we are so thrilled to finally see the story of this apartment and these people come to life amid these piles of stuff. Finding our way into this apartment has been quite a journey, and we hope you enjoy sorting through it as much as we did.