In this fresh and funny “holiday” drama, the Schwartz siblings gather for a Yarzheit – the anniversary of their father’s death.

And like with any distanced relatives, things get awkward and complicated when everyone’s closer.

An Interview with Scott Ecker, Director of The Last Schwartz

Scott Ecker (Director) previously directed The Last Nickel with Upstage Productions and his original play Chaperones through CassAct.  Scott is a board member at Theatre B and designed sound for Hamlet.  He has also performed at Theatre B in plays such as The Underpants, The Art of Bad Men, and A Beautiful Hell.  This is Scott’s first time directing at Theatre B.  Other recent performances include Over the River and Through the Woods with Tin Roof and War of the Worlds: The Panic Broadcast with FMCT.  Scott founded and ran the local improv troupe Funny Fargo People.  He currently works for Access of the Red River Valley as a Case Manager, Powerplay DJ and writes about theatre for HPR.

What is your theatrical background? What is your history with Theatre B?

I have been involved with Theatre B since I participated in their Second Stage program in high school.  Since then I have performed with them in the shows Almost, Maine, Dead Man’s Cell Phone, The Underpants, The Art of Bad Men, and A Beautiful Hell. I also designed sound for the recent production of Hamlet. Currently I serve on the Theatre B Board and as Chair of the Fundraising Committee.

Outside of B, I graduated with a degree in theatre from SDSU.  I founded and ran the local improv team Funny Fargo People.  I had previously directed the plays The Last Nickel and Chaperones, which was an original play that I wrote.

What does a director do?

The director of a play interprets the script and works with actors and designers to execute that vision.  It is a very collaborative position as the play keeps changing based on what the actors discover.

What part of the design process do you find to be the most fun? What about the most challenging?

I’ve found the development of the set to be a lot of fun.   It’s really fun to see the progress of going from an empty stage to a believable old house.

What are some specific aspects of directing The Last Schwartz and the story that make you really happy or proud?

I’m really proud that we’ve been able to create fully developed characters.  The script has such a wonderful cast of characters and the actors have been able to expand and deepen the relationships in the show.  At face value, all of these characters seem like a basic type.  I’m proud that we’ve been able to transcend stereotypes and find the humanity in everyone.

What called you to direct this story?

It was a terrific script full of relatable family dynamics.  I love working with actors and this provided me with a great chance to assemble six actors and really create something meaningful.  With my background in working with people on the autism spectrum, I also connected with the portrayal of the character Simon.  There was a lot about him and the way he connects with his world that I really understood and cared about.

What is something an audience member should pay attention to when they see the show?

I think that everyone can see themselves in this show, but I would encourage everybody to look outside of their own perspective.  This show is about a lot of universal family issues, but there are specific religious and cultural elements to this family that are very important.  The show is full of different perspectives be it with gender, neurological differences or someone’s position in a family.  I hope that audiences will empathize with characters that they might not necessarily agree with or understand.