In the Moment: Hub Theatre’s 2014-2015 Season Announced: Interviews with Helen Pafumi, Matt Bassett, & Kristen LePine

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Hub LOGOThe Hub Theatre recently announced its full 2014-15 season. The season includes several mainstage productions and the annual Hub Playfest, along with developmental play readings. There will also be formal ventures to support the next generation of playwrights;  those currently in college and high school. Details can be found on The HUB’s website.

Now in its 7th season, the Hub’s maxim is, “a dynamic circle of story, art and community.” The troupe is one of the few regularly producing professional theater companies located in Fairfax County. According to Census information, Fairfax County is the largest jurisdiction by population in the DC metro area. The County also has one of the highest levels of per-capita income with its diverse demographics.

As a professional producing theater, the HUB has garnered a number of Helen Hayes Award nominations. In 2012 the company produced Birds of a Feather by Marc Acito. The play received the Charles MacArthur Award for Outstanding New Play from theatreWashington.

DCMTA’s David Siegel interviewed HUB Artistic Director Helen Pafumi; Hub Associate Artistic Director Matt Bassett; and Playwright Kristen LePine to learn more about the Hub’s upcoming season.

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David Siegel:  What led to the establishment of  The Hub Theatre?

Artistic Director Helen Pafumi.
Artistic Director Helen Pafumi.

Helen Pafumi: I established The Hub with two other fantastic individuals Maggie Ulmer and Marey Oaks. We began this journey out of a wish to bring high level professional theatre to Fairfax, and the wish to celebrate work that we found vital. As the company has grown, that has included a commitment to new work and writers. It is joy to introduce artists to this community.

What fuels you as the Hub Artistic Director?

The Hub has become a family. Our Board of Directors, Company of Artists, our audiences. I am fueled by my commitment to them and the expectation on all of our parts that we will tell stories in a hopeful, magical and beautiful way. Everything is about serving the story, so as a director that is my main focus as well. I search for the humanity in everything we produce, and because of the kind of work we do, it is always there, right at our fingertips.

How do the plays in the Hub’s 2014-15 season connect with the HUB motto, “a dynamic circle of story, art and community”?

th_peekabooWith our holiday development readings we see two plays in their respective journeys. In Peekaboo! Anne M. McCaw is taking on the nativity story. While the subject may seem daunting, it is the simple hope that we put into children that drives the play. And with Magi, which I have penned, the play reads like a rom com/rock concert, but in truth I wrote a play about self sacrifice. 

th_typographers_dreamTypographer opens the discussion about whether or not we are our jobs. Or even bigger, how do we define ourselves? I have wanted to do a play by Adam Bock for a long time, and am so excited to give this play its area premiere. It is extremely exciting to world premiere Kristen LePine’s play Leto Legend. Hub commissioned her to write this play about 3 years ago. The piece came from discussions Kristen and I had about motherhood and the pressure mothers feel to be supermoms.

With all our plays, there is humor, love and what I can only describes is a Hub sense of the ephemeral. Our productions scream that the moment is fleeting, so grab it while you can!

Why did you decide to produce an emerging writers festival of local high school and college playwrights?

th_magiOur cultural landscape is shaped by the bards of our time. So there is no better place to put our investment. Last season we allocated one slot during our annual Play Fest to student writers. This year the get a whole weekend. Along with the help of our Resident Dramaturg Suzanne Maloney, as well as professional directors and actors, we will help these early writers find their voice.

How will the Hub go about selecting plays to produce?

th_letoThere are so many factors to committing to full production on a play. Everything we select for the Playfest already is being seen as a contender. The readings give me and my company of artists a chance to hear the play with an audience. There is no better test than that. We will then discuss the play’s merits, its production value, proposed budget, cast size, and how it would fit into a season. In the end though, we are looking for that special ingredient that there are no words for, but that makes the play completely Hub.

What would you like audiences to come away with after seeing a Hub production this season?

Hope. That’s always a really big thing with me and what I want our audiences to walk away with. The kind of hope that brings us hunger for connection and understanding.

Where would you like the Hub to be in 3-5 years as a theatre company?

I would love our staff to be fully paid, to have a building of our own to call home and to be running a robust program to develop new plays and playwrights. Imagine the stories we could share…

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Matt Bassett
Associate Artistic Director Matt Bassett.

 Matt, you have acted in a Hub play, been a casting director and now you are the Associate Artistic Director. What draws you to the Hub?

Matt Bassett, Hub Associate Artistic Director: What draws me to the Hub in any capacity is the company’s strong commitment to a good story. Each play chosen by the Hub is centered around compelling relationships between well-drawn characters. Hub plays always surprise me with their boldness, their emotional honesty and their warmth. Even the darkest events bring a sense of bonding with the greater whole of humanity. That commitment to story comes through in direction, design and performance, with every choice in a production made specifically and with great care.

The work is always challenging, rich and rewarding.

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Kristen LePine.
Kristen LePine.

Kristen, why do you want your Leto Legend to have its world premiere at the Hub?

Kristen LePine, playwright: Leto Legend tackles the challenges juggling a work, artistic, and family life. This is something that the director Helen Pafumi and I share in common, so I am excited to collaborate and continue the conversation adding our different perspectives through art and storytelling.

The Hub Theatre has been involved in the development of this play since its inception, and growing a play from an idea to a fully realized production with a company of artists that I admire is a playwright’s dream come true.

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The Hub Theatre mainstage productions take place at the John Swayze Theatre at the New School of Northern Virginia – 9431 Silver King Court, in Fairfax, Virginia. Here are directions.

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David Siegel
David Siegel is a freelance theater reviewer and features writer whose work appears on DC Metro Theater Arts, ShowBiz Radio, in the Connection Newspapers and the Fairfax Times. He is a judge in the Helen Hayes Awards program. He is a member of the American Theatre Critics Association and volunteers with the Arts Council of Fairfax County. David has been associated with theater in the Washington, DC area for nearly 30 years. He served as Board President, American Showcase Theater Company (now Metro Stage) and later with the American Century Theater as both a member of the Executive Board and as Marketing Director. You can follow David's musings on Twitter @pettynibbler.