My Little Bird – Recently MyLittleBird contributor Judith Robinson had the opportunity to share an especially lovely autumn afternoon with Karla Boos, the artistic director of Quantum Theater, the company she founded in 1990.
We wanted to know everything about her and everything about Quantum, the theater company whose home is not a theater at all; Quantum’s home is the city of Pittsburgh itself.
JR: How do you describe Quantum? What is it you’re trying to accomplish?
KB: I think one of our goals is to provide something you can’t easily experience in a conventional building with a stage, seats and walls. I like to think about what is needed to be jolted alive.
JR: And how does that happen?
KB: Well, for one thing, we use the vast opportunities provided by the environment.
JR: Well, you constantly surprise us. I recall productions in warehouses, cemeteries and hayfields…
KB: Yes, and our last play, The Odyssey, took place at Schenley Park Ice Rink.
JR: Yes, we saw it, and it was wonderful. What inspired that choice?
KB: Well, the ice rink really gave us the sense of a Greek amphitheater, especially when the scenic designer’s immediate choice was to face the audience toward the pine trees and setting sun (and it is a place of sport, civic gathering after all, like a Greek amphitheater).
JR: That leads us to ask the reason for the former steel mill for your production of King Lear.
KB: Carrie Blast Furnace—the “King” of mills—so embodied the themes of Lear, once mighty, now fallen. The hubris of Lear matched that of the steel barons who thought what they built would go on forever. Their ghosts were on our “heath” for sure!