Addressing issues and sparking conversations about topics that really matter to their Austin community, local company Theatre en Bloc has never shied away from a heavy theme. Kyle John Schmidt’s The Secretary is, of course, no exception. Directed by Jenny Lavery and boasting a host of bombshell, female actors and cutting, comedic lines, we had to know—how did The Secretary, an “offbeat comedy” about one of our most divisive national issues, come about?
Why did you write The Secretary?
- My hometown is headquarters to the world’s largest supplier of gun parts and shooting accessories. In the weeks after Sandy Hook, this company sold more high-capacity ammunition magazines than they had in 3 years. As business boomed and people got hired, I realized that my town directly profits from the gun buying binges that often follow national tragedies.
- Some years ago, an Olympic marksman came to my town and taught my mom and her friend Marge how to target shoot in a goat pasture. My mom got obsessed and now she’s never happier than when she’s shooting her guns, showing off her guns, getting a new gun, or barking at me for calling her “Granny Guns.”
So when I sat down to write this play, I wanted to show how guns in America have a kaleidoscope of meanings. They’re objects of terror, tokens of love, life savers, job creators, and my mom’s favorite hobby. It was the horror, humor, and beauty of this kaleidoscope that brought me to writing The Secretary.
What do you hope will happen with the play?
I hope it will make people laugh and cry and think. And then laugh again about what they thought about.
What has the rehearsal process been like?
A lot of laughs and a lot of fascinating conversations about guns in America. It’s been an interesting play to work on with the national dialogue over the past couple of months.
Why should people come see this play?
The actresses. All six women are giving out-of-this-world performances. I feel incredibly privileged to be in the same room with so much talent.
What is your favorite line of the play?
“I killed a raccoon with a pitchfork this morning so don’t think I’m afraid to get blood on this blouse.”
Who are your major writer influences?
Jean Genet and Thornton Wilder.
Who is this play for?
People who love guns. People who hate guns. People who don’t know what they feel about guns. And anyone who liked Steel Magnolias, but wished it had more guns.
The Secretary opens March 23 for 11 performances through April 8. Do you want to be a part of the conversation?