Sometimes it takes a bit of magic to create a new theatre company. At least for Justin Allen Slagle And Stephen Schmitz, the magic was the final push they needed to stage the first show for The Eastern theatre company. That show is the celebration of all things Hufflepuff and Harry Potter – PUFFS, OR: SEVEN INCREASINGLY EVENTFUL YEARS AT A CERTAIN SCHOOL OF MAGIC AND MAGIC playing through July 21st at the PowPAC Theatre.
Between the magic, the performances, and the certain wizard who shall not be named, Justin Allen Slagle was able to find some time to chat about the theatre company and what made PUFFS the perfect first show.
Tell me a little bit about The Eastern and it’s theatrical mission.
The Eatern is San Diego’s newest semi-professional theatre company. We hope to one day find a permanent home in San Diego’s east county (hence the ironic name right now doing a show up in Poway). The Eastern was started by by the three-person creative team of Stephen Schmitz (Producing Artistic Director),
Justin Allen Slagle (Managing Artistic Director) and Vanessa Dinning (Artistic Advisor/Resident
Brit). All veterans of San Diego stages. We looked around the theatre community in one of the most expensive cities to live in in the country and saw a gap. A paying, semi -professional company that thinks about theatre and the process of doing it differently. A company that keeps community theatre like rehearsal schedules (so people can have jobs to pay the bills), and a company that provides child care during the rehearsal process, that operates, runs, and holds the standards of a professional company, but does things a little different. All the while creating unique opportunities for artists to create collaborate and grow.
What about PUFFS felt right for your theatre company perform as its first show?
When I was first introduce to Puffs I was in love. Matt Cox has created this beautiful story that is so relatable to so many of us that perhaps were not the cool kids in school. Yet, it was also a story that was familiar. When it was introduced to me I knew it was something I wanted to bring to San Diego. We had already been having conversations for some time with about starting a theatre company, once we realized we actually had a chance of securing the West Coast Premiere of Puffs our timeline got accelerated. And I will just say, it has all worked out magically. We worked pretty closely with the author and some of the original new york components including the compositions and sound design. We have all become great friends and part of the Puffs family.
What do you hope audiences take away from the show and about your theatre company?
I would hope that we present something in Puffs that is magical and heartfelt. I would hope from Puffs they can see the quality and professionalism they can expect from our company going forward. I also hope they laugh their asses off and have a lot of fun.
For a show based on some beloved source material how did you approach directing this show?
I didn’t focus on any of that. People will make those connections, what I focused on was Wayne’s story and his hopes and dreams and the relationship between him and Oliver and Megan. Make them real people that just happened to be at this school at the same time as another certain wizard. So how did these three respond and react in the midst of all of this with all their hopes and dreams, triumphs and failures.
What was the biggest surprise working on this show?
The show is so full of love and general puffiness (the art of being a puff…is that a thing) that it translated into everything both onstage and off. It was absolutely delightful to work on.
To get show time and ticket information for PUFFS, playing through July 21st, or to follow the continuing performances and adventures of The Eastern you can follow them at any or all below!
Ticket website: www.theeasternsd.com
Instagram and Facebook: @theeasternsd on Instagram and Facebook