Michael has been involved with Theatre B since its start. From cleaning the theatre to fixing sets, running lights to acting, he does it all. He is always willing to lend a helping hand and is truly dedicated to doing what is best for B. You can see Michael onstage now, playing Matt in Straight White Men.
Theatre B (TB): Can you tell me a little about yourself, where you’re from and life after high school?
Michael Sunram (MS): My hometown is Audubon, Minnesota, just to the east of here. I graduated from Lake Park Audubon in 1992. I went to Wahpeton for a couple of years for a liberal arts degree. Then thought about what I wanted to do, and decided to transfer to NDSU where I majored in theatre from 94’- 99’. I originally thought about acting and then started getting into the tech side of it, running lights, designing sound and stuff like that. Afterwards, I didn’t really take the leap like a lot of other theatre graduates. I had debt, so I decided to just stay in town and work it off. The only real theatre I did was with a group out in Harwood called the Harwood Prairie Playhouse. Lori and Scott Horvik were also working on some projects out there at the time.
TB: So those connections led you to B?
MS: Yeah, then the Horviks and Wintersteens began Theatre B, and I just was kind of a helping hand with them from the beginning. Then eventually things just started to grow around here, and I felt at home, so I have been involved with Theatre B ever since.
TB: Where did you get your first taste of theatre?
MS: In high school, I loved to play characters; K-12 I was always involved in some kind of show. It was always that in the Fall I played football, then for the rest of the year it would be weightlifting, theatre, and music.
TB: Now, you gravitate more towards the technical aspects than acting?
MS: Yeah, I did graduate with a tech emphasis. I do wish I would have kept up with more software changes and lighting equipment. In recent years I help with anything I can: set building, moving stuff around, lighting, sound, and acting occasionally. I have acted in 3 shows, which were Boys Life, Almost, Maine, and this last season, Wit. I was really grateful for a part in Wit because that was such a powerful piece. Lately I have been thinking about getting into acting more; I kind of pushed that to the side for many years. I do enjoy being behind the scenes; I’ve also been a stagehand for a few shows which is nice too.
TB: Do you have a favorite play you’ve worked on or role you’ve done?
MS: I really liked the show Next Fall; it was a show about these two men, who fall in love, and one’s more secular and one’s very religious. There is a conflict there, and basically it is told in a series of flashbacks. I designed the lights for that show and it was just such a powerful experience.
Almost, Maine was also unique because 3 or 4 ensemble members directed it. It takes place in a fictional town dealing with different couples and different relationships. It was one of the shows that I read and immediately thought about acting in. Every scene in that show dealt with love and, being a single guy, I could relate to some of the scenes about love and loneliness and loss.
TB: Is that kind of what determines your interest in a role? Feeling that connection?
MS: Yeah, relating to it. It depends though, I guess. If it really speaks to me, I get really interested too.
TB: What did you want to be when you were younger?
MS: Well, when I was a kid I was a fan of dinosaurs. So I said I’d be a paleontologist. Then I got older and I liked being outside a lot so I thought I’d be an environmental engineer. Growing up I had people tell me to be an accountant too. My favorite hobby was doing math so everyone said to be an accountant.
TB: Greatest challenge artistically?
MS: Keeping up with the trends and new technology in lighting design. We’ve had other lighting designers in here that are more in tune with the latest equipment and do a lot of creative and atmospheric stuff, where my designs are more practical.
TB: What do you love most about being a part of the ensemble?
MS: I love being able to observe, listen, and watch all the artists that we bring in. I like trying to pick up something from them. I like to learn from them and learn how to do things better. I also love the fact that, which I never thought 10 years ago, we have made a mark; we have an identity with an impact. We are nationally recognized, which is great to see. We work to expose and elevate local art, and I’m always excited about the stories we are telling. It’s just a great group of folks and they are very supportive.
Interviewer: Corin Puhalla, Theatre B Promotions Intern