DELMARVA ALMANAC

Kyler Taustin

by Dana Kester-McCabe

Kyler Taustin is the creative director of The Brown Box Theatre Company, a troupe who perform live theater in places that usually have no access to it.

For kids who are not into sports theater can provide great lessons about cooperation and leadership. Kyler was one of those kids. He convinced his high school to let him participate in a musical rather than the required team sport. This was a revelation to him and inspired his deep passion for bringing theater to kids who otherwise would not experience it.

Kyler grew up here on the Lower Shore. He attended the Salisbury School and appeared in a production of the Hobbit where he was bit by the theater bug. He continued to take part in theater productions through high school and studied acting and directing at Emerson College and the British American Academy at Oxford among other places. He worked for a number of companies around New York and Boston before forming his own company the Brown Box Theatre.

The company is based in Boston but the name Brown Box "is born out of the idea of packing everything in a brown box and taking it where it is needed." Kyler's vision is to bring theater to places like Delmarva that do not have regular access to professional theater. He says he "saw a lack and wanted to fill it,"…"saw a gap and wanted to fix it."

For the last few summers Kyler and Brown Box Theatre have brought free performances of Shakespeare to several towns the Eastern Shore including Twelfth Night, Rome and Juliet, and A Midsummer's Night Dream. This year they had ten performances in Boston and then twelve performances on Delmarva, five of which were in schools.

Each year Kyler invites the cast to read plays together - out loud, because Shakespeare is meant to be heard. A work is chosen to produce depending on how it sounds, and what the possible resources are.

Kyler is passionate about performing the works of Shakespeare. He feels that the texts are relatable by young and old alike. The play choice is based not only on what the audience might like but also by what will stretch the company artistically.

Recently the company traveled to Mexico and worked with a group of mostly untrained actors. This was very challenging as well as rewarding. The project was a unique bilingual adaptation (in English and Spanish) of Othello. This resulted in something really innovative with a lot of movement and paint, which Kyle says has rarely been seen in the US.

The Company also performs new original plays that have not been widely produced. Working with a playwright as well as with the cast and crew is a long and rewarding process of discovery. The performing arts are collaborative mediums. Though theater can be called a director's medium Kyler says it is nothing without the cast and crew. He loves working with a team of dedicated artists. Live theater is also a collaboration with the audience who give immediate feedback about what is working or not, what makes them laugh or cringe. No two audiences are the same. This is why "we love it."

Kyler's role as artistic director includes serving as both producer and director. But even as he is making arrangements for other practical details he is beginning the process of directing the play.

Because many of their performances are outdoors Kyler looks for actors who appreciate the opportunity to work in changing sometimes unpredictable environments. He says that as a director his job is to help the actors find what they need to perform bringing together all their various life experiences and training.

Kyler describes this as "discovering movement" with the actors so every action has intention and drive. "…getting in touch with our body, our feelings, that is what acting is all about. I mean this is our instrument: mind, body, soul, the whole deal. We have to be in touch with who we are and what we do."

The Brown Box Theatre and other groups like them depend on grants and community support so people can enjoy free performances. Now they are working on plans to bring original works to audiences hungry for more by these talented troubadours to places like the Ocean City Center for The Arts and a newly renovated space being developed in Snow Hill.

Kyler expressed his deep gratitude to the community and audiences who have supported Brown Box Theatre. His goal is to increase the number of productions the company does annually and to bring them all to Delmarva.

Find out more about the Brown Box Theatre and futre performances on Delmarva at:
http://www.brownboxtheatre.org