A moment with CHURCH & STATE Director Jenna Burnett about not making assumptions

Q: This script is interesting because it is many contradicting things at once - hilarious and heartbreaking, familiar and surprising, personal and global. And because of this, the audience’s expectations are constantly overturned in delightful and profound ways. Church & State was slated to begin rehearsals soon after the onset of the pandemic - and since then events have transpired that make this story resonate differently than it would have before. Why do you think this play is exciting and relevant? And why do you think audiences shouldn’t make assumptions about it?

A: It’s funny that you mention the contradictions, because I feel like a lovely little pandemic paradox has presented itself over the past few years – isolation has both polarized us and brought us closer together. Being alone in our houses has simultaneously encouraged a “me vs. them” mentality, and also sent us desperately searching for community wherever we can find it. What’s wonderful about this play is that the characters refuse to let differences of opinion or belief drive them apart – they might come close, but their love for each other makes them really listen and try to see where the other person is coming from. And while that’s a great story to tell at any time, I feel like it’s even more important now that many of us seem to have forgotten how to have real conversations with each other. The unfortunate reality is that the play is still relevant because gun violence is still a problem, and we still need to find a way to talk about it and come up with solutions.

I think the biggest assumptions I made when I first heard about this play were that it was going to preach at me (I promise it doesn’t), it was going to present me with caricatures instead of real people (I swear I know all of these characters in real life, and they are lovely), and because it was taking on serious subjects it was going to be very solemn and dramatic (it is THE MOST FUN). This play is earnest, heartfelt, and just really freakin’ funny. I hope audiences have as much fun watching it as we have making it.