Get to know Brian Brems!
If Limelight does it, Brian has been a part of it. Since the earliest days of Limelight, Brian has been behind the scenes, on stage, teaching classes, or mentoring staff. Brian shares his voice and vision for storytelling through the scripts he writes and guidance he provides to participants and staff.
With 17 years of Limelight behind him, here is what he has to say…
Briefly list your education/experience in theater:
I learned theater mostly by doing, beginning at Oswego High School as a freshman. I started with Limelight as a technical crew member in the summer of 2001, and never left. I don’t have much in the way of official theater education, but I do work as an Assistant Professor of English at the College of DuPage, where I teach Composition and Film. My work as a writer and director with Limelight often draws upon cinema, which is where my expertise really is.
What are you most excited about sharing with Limelight participants?
I’ve been with the organization for a long time, and what keeps me coming back is the opportunity to share work with those participants who sign up to be in shows I do, or to take classes I teach. I’m a lifelong educator committed to the belief that education itself should be a lifelong pursuit. When we create work, we consider the audience, of course, but for me, the real audience is the group of students and participants who join the show. They are the ones who will have the potentially life-changing experience; they are the ones who may take what they learn and carry it into their own lives; they are the ones I do it for.
What do you like most about theater?
I like theater’s immediacy. We do radio productions, often one-night only events, and I like the ethereal nature of them. We’ve batted around the idea of recording those radio shows in some capacity, but some part of me loves the transient nature of those productions. It’s one night. Be there, or miss it. It raises the stakes considerably, in my opinion.
Which Limelight productions have you been a part of?
There are too many to count, so I’ll select a few. My first production as an actor was appearing as Governor Danforth in 2002’s The Crucible. My first solo directing effort was Leave the Gun. Take the Cannoli. in 2007, from my own script (itself adapted from a previous Limelight production). I worked with an incredible team of people to produce Limelight’s first (and to this date, only) original musical, Lumberjacks: The Musical! in 2009, which I co-wrote with Jeremy Wackerlin, with music by Ben Wooley. I adapted and directed Henrik Ibsen’s An Enemy of the People in 2015. In 2017, I wrote and directed an original show inspired by Bruce Springsteen’s The River album, called Beneath the Neon Lights. There are more. There will be more. There are a lot.
Share a memory from your time as a Limelight participant.
Since 2011, on opening night of shows I direct, before the actors head out to begin, I read the following quotation, by Bruce Springsteen, to the actors:
“When you come out there in that dark, and you make that magic, you pull something that doesn’t exist out of the air. It doesn’t until, on any given night when you’re standing in front of your audience. Nothing exists in that space until you go 1, 2, 3, 4, voom. And then you and the audience together manifest an entire world. An entire set of values, an entire way of thinking about your life and the world around you. And an entire set of possibilities. That can never be taken away.”
I look down at the page in the notebook where I have this quotation scrawled, and look up at the actors standing before me, listening – some hearing it for the first time, others mouthing the words along with me because they’ve heard it so many times before. This is not just one moment, but a collection of moments that cohere across the years, the shows, the faces, into a collage of memory that fills me with the purpose of what I do.
What is your dream role?
Pressing play on my computer at the sound board, filling the performance space with a well-chosen, thematically relevant rock and roll song.