6 AMERICAN BLUES THEATER INTERVIEW WITH DIRECTOR HALENA KAYS Associate Producer Elyse Dolan discusses On Clover Road with Director Halena Kays. What excites you about this project? I've never worked a piece that is so clearly playing with and inspire by the thriller genre. I love thrillers. I love reading and watching them. This play has allowed me to ask artistic questions around what it means to be thrilled as an audience member and challenges me to create a space where our collaborators can play within this heightened sensibility. Steven is also a friend and a mentor so it is a thrill (no pun intended) to work alongside him and bring this play to life. It is also just a patently fun language, the fights and the mysteries are so much fun to play - the actors have amazing material and gorgeous scenes, it is a master class everyday in rehearsal. What do you admire about Steven Dietz's writing? The craftsmanship is outrageously good; at the same time he drops these beautiful truths in the midst of the chaos of the genre. He surprises us. I am moved by the beauty of the language and challenged by literal blood, sweat and tears of the plot. Why is it important to tell this story now? This is two-fold for me. First, theater often pays lip service to wanting to keep an audience engaged and on the edge of their seats, but I'm not sure we really do that all that often - this play is an invitation to thrill an audience and we have accepted. Second, this play has landed on my lap at a moment when I'm contemplating who my daughter will become, she is six now and being a parent can be terrifying and thrilling; imagining being a parent of a teenage girl contains the most unknowns. Most of our creative team are parents. We are each at a different moment in that journey - this play asks me to ponder, in four years, will I recognize the daughter I now know, and asks others, can you still see the 13 year old behind the 17 year olds blazing eyes? This play has me exploring some complicated and universal questions: what is the real horror beneath the horror in a great genre piece, what it is speaking to in our society now and does it hit a nerve? What will you be working on next? I'm thrilled to head back to The Neo-Futurists for more work on the world premiere of Ida Cutler's Comfortable Shoes and then off to the West Coast for the premiere of Communion, an evening of magic. Director Halena Kays in rehearsal at Steppenwolf Theatre in 2013