Shows, Taphouse

Boxed Wine: An Introduction to Jennifer Klouse

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jenkWhen I was asked to put together an introductory piece on myself as the aforementioned “HARDCORE DIRECTOR” of the beauteous Kiki Penoyer’s Taphouse, I thought, “Hey no problem. Talk about myself for a while? Easy. I can talk about myself for DAYS.”

Little did I know I’d fail horribly. I’ve been the worst. I deserve an F, detention AND a parent teacher conference. That request was made two three weeks ago.

My Google drive has been repeatedly full of words and then immediately empty a few seconds later. I’d fill up an empty document with all these illustrious and fancy experiences; the college years, the time I accidentally sang with Marvin Hamlisch, the countless hours of rehearsal, everything that makes me qualified to direct plays, the epiphany I had at Avery Fisher Hall in New York City where I realized I had become the artist I always wanted to be.

And a second later, I’d erase it all with two keystrokes.

It seems that I’m terrible at talking about myself. Oh, I can find things to say, the real problem is that I cannot talk about my education, my career and my past theatre experiences without sounding like I’m so pretentious, that I would rather die of thirst than deign to drink wine from a box.

Well… Ahem, moving on.

Yes, I’ve been around the world practicing my craft, yes I have performed with people who are renowned, yes, I have performance and directorial resumes long enough to choke an ostrich from the inside out and yes, I would rather die of thirst than deign to drink wine from a box.

I admit it, okay?! I’m only human for Thor’s sake.

When I was handed Taphouse, I immediately felt that I didn’t deserve it. The script was beautiful and touching, but funny in the starkness of the situation. It was raw and lacking even the smallest bit of sensationalism. The writing was fluid and intimate. Each character had its own voice and stood out with exposed moments of vulnerability that evoked images of subjective annihilation and cosseted mental bindings. But it was also funny. God, it was funny. The whole thing was refreshingly original for an adaptation. When I sat down to read it, I was inserted immediately into the audience. I could see the stage, the set with specific details. I could feel the heat from the lighting, I could see the each character blocking with perfect intention and I could hear the original music, haunting and personal. I had built the entire play in my mind from only a half a dozen lines. And in my world, when I can do that, that’s when I know I can take on a show. I can do anything.

I’m excited we’re underway.

I am currently planning spending all Saturday night with an excel spreadsheet and a gorgeous malbec, mapping out the details that I’ve so far scribbled illegibly in my notebook- stage design, lighting patterns, set dressing, character breakdowns, emotional beats, marketing ideas, program and poster layouts. I love the way everything fits onto one document, in pretty lines, making sense and accessible at all times.

(And a book wasn’t my date to the prom, no, why do you ask?)

Just like the production process of theatre, so too is the production of beer (good segue, yes?). The true art of it lives in the smaller houses. Small theaters and breweries are out of the way and harder to find. They are built from nothing, a ladder with rusty, and sometimes, unreliable pieces, winding its way up to something you’ve dreamed of for ages. The craft of each is a precise process, combining the right flavors to create a product you’re proud and excited to present. Both breweries and small theatre make their art accessible to those who wish to experiment, who wish to have a more intimate experience, who are willing to try something one of a kind and unorthodox.

Unfortunately, I am no longer able to drink beer. It makes me very sick.

However, that does not mean that I didn’t, at one time, enjoy a tall glass of frothy, cold brew. When I did drink beer, it was like my love life, you couldn’t keep me away from Germans and Brits. I went to school in Bremen, so I was expected to like Beck’s. And I did, sort of. It was okay in a pinch. I didn’t have the heart to tell the northerners that in my heart, I loved a smooth, rich and complex Bavarian dunkelweizen or an Austrian schwarzbier. When I finally got around to sleeping regularly in London, I was so enamored of the malty, creamy indulgent decadence of the dunkel, I was regarded as a kind of eccentric. Due to the increasing peer pressure, and the lack of finding anything dark besides Guinness at my local pub, I grew fond of English brown ale. Definitely malty, but decidedly balanced, brown ale was my go-to. It was perfect for all occasions. It was complex enough to pair with food at lunch, but casual enough to unwind with after a long day of trekking around blustery Southwark. When I moved to Seattle, I discovered the best microbrew in the country; Elysian and Hales, Big Time and Maritime Pacific, among countless other smaller, nanobreweries springing up everywhere like Fremont Brewing and Naked City.

Just like in Taphouse, I’m surrounded by both arts.

Hey look at that.

I still sound pretentious. Even when talking about beer.

-Jennifer Klouse
Director – Taphouse


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