A Q&A With JayC Stoddard, “Rabbit Hole” Director

What attracted you to direct “Rabbit Hole”?

JayC Stoddard

JayC Stoddard

“Rabbit Hole” had already been chosen as a production for Utah Rep by the time I joined the board. When I saw that no director had yet been attached to the project, I immediately volunteered. “Rabbit Hole” is a script that I was already familiar with and have been in love with since around 2009. I was already familiar with these characters and their situation and thrilled with the prospect of being allowed to tell this story.

How has the instructions from the author shaped your direction of “Rabbit Hole”?

Only slightly. Of course I want to remain true to his intent, but there also comes a point in the process when you have to put your own signature on it. The playwright indicates in the notes that this is not a tidy play, and he gives specific instruction to not go out of your way to make it so. I agree 100 percent with this sentiment. This isn’t a tidy play, and I can see how some people may feel compelled to try to clean it up. Even if the playwright had not included this in his note, and he left nothing but the words of the script, I would not feel a need to add any moment to try to provide answers, insight or tidiness at the end. One of the great things about this script is the number of questions it raises, without ever answering any of them. I would be foolish to try.

What pleases you most about the production?

The actors. Without doubt. I have been incredibly fortunate to assemble so phenomenal talent. This is such a strong script, and so many actors are familiar with it, that it drew so many people to come audition. One of the greatest, and most painful problems a directors can have, is too many choices. I feel however, with each character, that I absolutely made the right decision. The humanity and love that each of my actors brings to their character, is sometimes overwhelming. Watching them grow into these roles and breathe life into them has without doubt been inspiring. I’ve also been able to surround myself with an amazing production team that has worked tirelessly to make this the best show possible.

The basic storyline has been used in TV dramas “that specialize in domestic tales of redemption,” according to the New York Times review. What elevates “Rabbit Hole” to be Pulitizer Prize-worthy?

Thematically this play goes into some pretty dark places. It explores questions that every living person will probably have to face at some point in their life. What elevates this play above others that explore similar themes, is the reality of the characters. These are people that we can relate to. We can share their pain, and their challenges. There is nothing over the top “theatrical” about this play. These are real people, who have real problems, who speak and act as real people do. These could be our neighbors. Our friends. Ourselves. The dialogue is never showy or overly poetic…but always, absolutely, real.

How will audiences benefit from seeing “Rabbit Hole”?

This play takes something absolutely universal, grief, and places this universal theme on specific people. We get to watch people experience something that we can all relate to on some level. My hope is not that we will alleviate the pain of grief. We are not attempting any type of relief, comfort, or therapy. My hope is that audiences will be able to find ways to explore grief. Explore how to handle their own, or handle the grief of those they may have contact with. Audiences can see that no matter where they are in a journey of grieving, that there is not an absolute way to overcome it, but rather that although, universal, grief is also incredibly personal, and that there is no right or wrong way to deal with it. It is my absolute hope that no matter who a person may be, or what they may be going through, there is a way through. There is a way out.