On April 12, the Boulder Ensemble Theatre Company (BETC) is debuting one of the first productions of Bekah Brunstetter’s new play, Going to a Place Where You Already Are. Brunsetter, an award-winning playwright who co-produces and writes for NBC’s hit show, This is Us, is bringing the play to Colorado for its fourth production.
After several conversations with her parents and grandparents about their religious views—a mix of both Christian and atheist beliefs—as well as their ideas about what happens after death, Brunstetter set out to write a play that portrayed their various perspectives. Going to a Place focuses on Roberta and Joe, an elderly couple who never believed in heaven until Roberta receives a serious medical diagnosis that forces them to contemplate their mortality and the idea of an afterlife. Their story is intertwined with that of the couple’s granddaughter, Ellie, and her love interest, Jonas.
The work is “a contemporary play with a timeless feel, one that is both heartwarming and heartbreaking,” says Rebecca Remaly, co-founder of BETC and director of the show. “BETC is always looking for fresh scripts that show how theater develops and fosters empathy. Not only is Brunstetter’s play incredibly written, but the story hits on religious issues that families have been struggling with for generations.”
From the set designers to the actors, the BETC production is stocked with talent from the Denver Metro area. “We love how diverse the cast is, from the two lead roles of Roberta (played by Anne Sandoe) and Joe (played by Jim Hunt) in their 70s to the character Jonas (played by Trenton Schindele) who is a paraplegic man in his 20-30s,” Remaly says.
The diverse group of performers, paired with the controversial topics on religion and afterlife that the play touches on, makes it a perfect fit for the BETC. “Areas of Colorado that are more blue, like Denver and Boulder, sometimes have notions that proponents of religion and academia are separate and opposite,” Remaly says. “Brunstetter’s play puts these concepts to the test and forces the audience to further analyze their beliefs and understand the beliefs of others.”
If you go: Going to a Place Where You Already Are runs April 12 to May 6 at the Grace Gumm Theater at the Dairy Arts Center, 2590 Walnut St., Boulder. On April 22, BETC is hosting a post-show discussion on the issues depicted in the play. Tickets for the show are $20–$45.