Q&A: JC Carter, director of “Straight”

How do you hope audiences members’ opinions will change and what most excites you about that potential?

“Straight” was an eye-opener to me when it comes to sexuality. I admit that I fell into the trap that Ben describes in the play: that if a guy does something with another guy, he goes over to gay, with everything attached. But that’s not necessarily true. I was forced to re-think my opinions on sexuality, and if the play can make me do that, I hope it might make others do that, too.

What significance is there to having direct access to the playwrights as you direct Utah Rep’s production?

It’s tremendous. Often on plays directors have a dramaturg, whose whole job is to delve into the nuances of the play and answer the actors’ and directors’ questions about the world of the play, the dialogue and the meaning of certain phrases or activities. Having direct access to Scott and Drew gives us that and so much more.

How have friends and family responded when you explain the content and message of “Straight”?

Either their eyes glaze over and they start thinking about what they’re going to watch on their thousand-dollar entertainment system when I finally shut up, or they are genuinely interested. I’m excited and enthusiastic about the story, so that helps them get excited.

There is a line in “Straight” that “everyone wants gay friends, but not everyone wants gay kids.” Why is that true, and what will be necessary for that belief to change?

Gay kids, gay parent, gay sibling… What is said in the play before that line is that when it’s a celebrity that comes out, it’s interesting. When it’s someone close to you, it’s “Are you sure?” One of the beautiful messages of this play is that it’s OK to not be sure. As the play points out, we often classify those who come out as “brave,” indicating they’re doing something that’s terrifying. I think maybe being able to understand the nuances of our own sexuality, and giving up that whole idea of “how I was raised,” can make a big difference in overcoming that fear.

What elements of your life have helped you understand the storyline in “Straight”?

I try to look for the kernel of truth that everyone can relate to. We call it the “universal appeal.” We may not have had the direct experiences that Ben, Emily and Chris have in the play, but we can understand not wanting to be labeled for one aspect of our lives in a way that wipes out all of the other things that make us unique, and we can understand that love can drag us places we didn’t expect to go.

Name your three favorite shows you directed and your three dream directing show titles.

My three favorites? Wow… I no particular order, I’ll say: Steve Martin’s “Picasso at the Lapin Agile,” Sam Shepard’s “True West and “Amadeus,” for Utah Rep.

My three immediate dream shows are “Once, the Musical,” Steve Martin’s “Meteor Shower” and Shakespeare’s “Julius Caesar.”