While Beertown is currently in rehearsal at Raleigh Little Theatre, opening May 6, 2016, we asked its artistic director Patrick Torres to give his perspective on bringing the production to his community.

In the late summer of 2014, I drove from Austin, TX to Raleigh, NC to start work as Raleigh Little Theatre’s Artistic Director. It was a gift to have that many hours in a car alone to think about what I wanted to accomplish in my new position. I considered the 80-year history of the theatre and thought of ways I could preserve the past while pushing the theatre into the future. And somewhere on that drive as I watched the country pass outside my window and thought of the beauty of these communities I drove through, I thought of Beertown. And I knew I wanted to bring it to Raleigh.

As a devised theatre piece that engages the audience as critical participants in the event, Beertown represents a form of theatre not commonly found on Raleigh stages, so I knew it would be exciting for our patrons and our community. But my desire to see it performed here moved far beyond the experience of the show. At its heart, the play really reminds us of the importance of community, of connecting with your neighbors, and of the value of civic debate. In selecting the object to add or remove from the time capsule of Beertown, we are reminded of how to speak with one another and sit with opinions that may differ from our own. It asks us to remember and recognize the value of how critical it is as members of the same community to share space and to talk to each other face to face. And, it is a great deal of fun!

Currently, North Carolina has been thrust into the national spotlight for a discriminatory law that was passed with no public debate. The law has had a deeply personal and economic impact for many of us in the state. I am so proud that in the midst of the tension in our state, the artists from dog & pony dc are here to present Beertown. It is a wonderful example of everything theatre should be – an EXPERIENCE that leads us to a greater understanding of ourselves and each other and inspires us to wrestle with the critical ideas and issues of our time, lest we lose our identity. We need Beertown right now, and we are so thankful it has landed here at Raleigh Little Theatre.

–Patrick Torres, artistic director, Raleigh Little Theatre