NOVA Center for the Performing Arts -- Billings, Montana

Spotlight on AUGUST: OSAGE COUNTY Director Craig Huisenga

Craig Huisenga Image
NOVA took a moment to delve into the mind of August: Osage County Director and NOVA Managing Producer, Craig Huisenga.

1. Tell me why you wanted to direct this play.

When I first read the play, I desperately wanted to be a part of it, as either actor or director. Very few scripts make me laugh out loud or gasp or think “Oh my god!” as I am reading. This one did all of those things. I also knew the play by reputation as the Pulitzer Prize winner in 2008 and have a personal connection with the Steppenwolf Theatre Company, which Tracy Letts is a member of and for which he wrote the play. A friend from grad school played Charlie in the original production in Chicago and on Broadway.
2. Tell me about the title of the play: August: Osage County. What is the significance of “Osage County?”
My question, exactly! August: Osage County is also the name of a poem by Howard Starks. Osage County has a checkered past. The Osage Indians owned the land for their own reservation, and when oil was discovered on it, they became some of the richest people in the country. Predatory outsiders married into Indian families and even committed murder to gain the mineral rights.
I believe that the character of Johnna in the play represents that historical presence as she makes herself at home and becomes the matriarch to Violet at the end. As in the great tragedies, the events of the play bring about a restoration of nature.

3. Wow, August: Osage County is a heavy duty play. It has been called a “tragicomedy.” It is heartwrenching and hysterical at the same time. What is your take on Tracy Letts’ combined use of comedy and tragedy to depict the Weston Family?
My favorite films and plays all combine comedy and tragedy – just like life. The two elements play off one another and make the drama or the comedy seem more real.

4. There are a lot of great moments in this play. Which one is your favorite? And why? (For me, the image of Barbara holding a glass and saying she had the “plains” stuck with me.)
I have too many favorites to pick just one. Two of my favorite scenes are the epic dinner scene that ends Act 2 and the scene we call “The Slumber Party” that begins Act 3. They both combine laugh-out-loud comic moments with painfully truthful moments between the members of the Weston family. The dinner scene was the main scene that made me say “Oh my god!” as I was reading. It is outrageous!

5. What was it like to work together? Hopefully the Weston Family dynamic stays on the set…
It is a great joy to be able to work and play with such a smart, funny, and compassionate group of people. One of my favorite things about directing is that I get to surround myself with a company of co-conspirators that entertain, challenge and inspire me every time we get together. The rehearsal room is one of my favorite places on earth!

6. Why should someone see this play?
Everyone has a family and every family has to deal with tension and trouble at some point. Seeing this play can be entertaining, instructive and inspiring. But, I think it is also about more universal and national issues. I feel as if August: Osage County is one of the great American plays. I put it in the same class as Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? or Long Day’s Journey Into Night or the best plays of Tennessee Williams.

7. After August: Osage County, what are you most looking forward to in the remainder of NOVA’s first season.

I am looking forward to everything! Our eclectic mix of new plays, opera, musicals and the 2nd Fringe Festival include something for everyone.


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NOVA Center for the Performing Arts  -  2317 Montana Avenue - Billings, MT 59101
PO Box 11
Billings, MT 59103
Phone: 406-591-9535