Rapture, Blister, Burn – Get to Know Reena Novotnak

20% Theatre Company is thrilled to present Rapture, Blister, Burn by Gina Gionfriddo at the Minneapolis Theatre Garage April 26 – May 10, 2014. In the weeks leading up to the show, we are giving you the chance to learn a little bit about the artists involved in this production. In this interview, meet our assistant stage manager, Reena Novotnak!

Assistant Stage Manager
Assistant Stage Manager
Can you tell us a little but about yourself and your background? How/when/why did you get into theatre? 

When I was 14 I had the opportunity to study at the Milwaukee Rep Summer Theater Conservatory. At the time, I thought I wanted to be a songwriter, and I did it to learn more about musical theater. To my surprise, I fell in love with theater instead. I went on to major in Dramatic Literature at Lawrence University and moved to Minneapolis in 2012 for an internship at The Plawyrights’ Center.Tell us how you originally got involved with 20% Theatre Company?A friend of mine, Kris Gebhard, performed in 20%’s Q-Stage last fall. When I saw that 20% was hiring for a show this spring, I jumped to apply!

What is your favorite part of the rehearsal/production process? What are some of the challenges?

My favorite part of the rehearsal process is that first moment when the chemistry between two actors becomes vibrant. It’s the second when the show really comes alive, when the story begins to feel real. My least favorite part? Moving furniture. Hands down.

What types of plays/shows do you enjoy stage managing the most, and why? What are some “dream shows” you’d love to stage manage?

I most enjoy stage managing shows that are a little on the abstract side– ones with dream sequences or elements that step out towards the fourth wall. For that reason, if I could stage manage any play, I think it might be Eugene O’Neill’s Desire Under the Elms. It’s absolutely in the realm of realism, but every emotion feels so heightened, and all of that gorgeous lighting…

Rapture, Blister, Burn is often called “a feminist play”. How would you describe the play? How do you feel about feminism and what it signifies today?

I would describe RBB as an exercise in second wave feminism, insofar as the feminism that I identify with has branched past a lot of the ideas that the play explores. When I think about feminism in my life, the idea of “having it all” is no longer part of the lens. At the same time, I don’t think I’m the intended audience for the message of the show. I know that “having it all” was absolutely the focus of my mother’s feminism, and to “to porn or not to porn” remains a large question for her generation.

How do you personally balance the expectations of being female in our society with the concepts of feminism in your daily life?

Being a woman still means being a second class citizen, and the goal of feminism is to end that oppression. Not only do women continue to struggle in the workplace making 77 cents for every male dollar, women’s bodies– particularly women of color and trans women– are trotted out for public consumption while as many as one in three women will be sexually assaulted in her lifetime. There has been a great deal of demonization of feminism as man-hating or extreme by those who stand to lose power in equality, but I don’t seen anything particularly extreme about asking to live safely.

What else do you do in the world, outside of theatre and/or working on this production?

I play the piano and sing, and I try to write plays… if I can sit still long enough.

Favorite place to eat out in the Twin Cities?

Lotus to Go Go in Loring Park

How did you get to Minneapolis? (Where did you grow up? Where are you from?)

I grew up in Milwaukee, and I moved to Minneapolis fall of 2012 for an internship at The Playwrights’ Center. Gosh, I just loved the cold so darn much I thought, “why not stay?” (Kidding of course)

Favorite song or band at the moment?

I’m loving Anaïs Mitchell, particularly her album “Hadestown” which is a gorgeous rock opera based on the myth of Orpheus and Eurydice.