by Carrie Wintersteen

Brad Delzer has been pushing me artistically for over ten years, first as a student in my Acting class at NDSU, then as a young director/performer in our Ensemble, finally as our first programming staff member at Theatre B.

I often point to Brad as the quintessential example of what we mean when we say Theatre B serves emerging artists. Brad emerged from college with strong ties in the Fargo Moorhead community that eased the imperative to move immediately to a larger market as most of his theatre classmates did. He had a passion for directing, but needed to build his resume. And he was hungry to continue learning in an ensemble environment that would afford him artistic agency.

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Brad and founding member, David Wintersteen during a rehearsal of ‘Sylvia’.

Brad’s interest in directing was a welcome addition, since accomplished directors are rare in our market. His first project with Theatre B was directing Sylvia, which starred three of the five founders, Scott Horvik, Carrie Wintersteen and David Wintersteen. It was a test for everyone, a trial by fire, and if Brad could handle it, he could handle anything.

Handle it he did – with a mixture of cunning, tena
city, and good humor. He was welcomed into the ensemble in 2007, along with his friends and collaborators Matthew Burkholder, Tucker Lucas, and Missy Teeters. These you
ng artists brought such energy, daring, and commitment to the company, they fueled its artistic growth through the first life stage of infancy through the next phases of development as the theatre established itself as the home for innovative new work presented in a uniquely intimate venue.

Directors are, by definition, behind the scenes, so it might not be a surprise if our audiences are not aware of the breadth and depth of Brad’s work with Theatre B. I would bet that he is responsible for some of your favorite shows:

  • Brad managed our first venture into multi-media scenic and storytelling techniques with The Pillowman.
  • He created the dreamy, imaginative world of Jacob Marley’s London.IMG_8878
  • He managed the chaotic precision of hundreds of costume and set changes in A Tuna Christmas.
  • He deftly coached a cast with a wide range of experience in Third.
  • He delved into the depths of grief with Mary Cochran in The Year of Magical Thinking.
  • He prepared performers for our collaboration with the FM Symphony, Ellis Island: The Dream of America.
  • He challenged our community to see the invisible costs of human trafficking with Body and Sold.
  • He translated a blended world of reality and fantasy in Dead Man’s Cell Phone.
  • He ventured to rearrange the seating in our tiny theatre, opening new possibilities for the relationship between performer and audience in A Midsummer Night’s Dream.
  • He shocked us with the shifting allegiances and relentless pace of God of Carnage.
  • He propelled our community’s conversation regarding LGBT rights with the readings of 8: The Play and Standing on Ceremony.
  • He responded to the VA’s request to improve patient care and foster understanding with the readings of ReEntry in Fargo, Grand Forks and Bismarck.
  • He pushed our company to cultivate performers of color when addressing issues of inequality with Clybourne Park.
  • He initiated our collaboration with NDSU and the North Dakota Governor’s School, creating a unique summer learning experience for teens from around the state.
Cast of '33 Variations' photo by Michael Benedict.

Cast of ’33 Variations’ photo by Michael Benedict.

  • He stunned us with the musical world of Beethoven in 33 Variations and shepherded the first annual WinterArts Fest.
  • He pushed us to think past published scripts to create our own work, hosting a class on devising techniques and working with an ensemble to develop a piece on the Bakken Oil Boom in collaboration with The Plains.

These are just the projects for which he is credited as director. There are countless other ways in which Brad served our company, as a member of our ArtsLab Team, as liaison to our collaborators, as our Program Coordinator, and finally as our first Artistic Director. There are very few photos of Brad alone – he is always in the company of people. He saw potential in everyone and drew artists of all stripes to come and play. He challenged us to improve our craft, tell the most meaningful stories, and change the world for the better.

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Brad performing in ‘The Oil Project’, photo by Kensie Wallner Photography.

I don’t think the larger community has any idea of the artistic energy and joyful creativity that have departed the region with Brad’s move to Pennsylvania. So many of his friends have moved on, it’s a wonder he stayed as long as he did. We knew that eventually our ability to create challenging artistic opportunities for him would expire; his drive and curiosity are tireless. We just hoped it would happen in the future.

Brad is no longer the quintessential emerging artist; he is the quintessential Theatre B artist – rearranging the furniture of our minds so deftly and completely, we can no longer see the world as we did before. He has emerged. And I will miss him.