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Bull Shark Attack

by Troy Deutsch

September 7 – October 16, 2016

World Premiere


The 2016-2017 Season opens with the haunting and poetic World Premiere of BULL SHARK ATTACK by Troy Deutsch.

On a warm North Carolina night, a girl with big hair drinks Schnapps, a boy is afraid to fall asleep and a woman with nowhere to go gets in her motorhome and starts driving. Their stories collide one fateful night on the beach.

*CONTENT ADVISORY: This play contains adult language and nudity. Recommended for mature audiences.

News & Reviews

Creative Team

TROY DEUTSCH (Playwright) is a writer, director, and actor from rural Minnesota living in New York City. Last fall he studied with Nicky Silver as part of The Vineyard Theatre’s Fall Playwriting Workshop. BULL SHARK ATTACK was part of SLAC's New Play Sounding Series in 2014 and was workshopped through SLAC's Playwrights' Lab in 2016. Troy's play CLIMBING WITH TIGERS received its world premiere at Salt Lake Acting Company earlier this year in collaboration with Flying Bobcat Theatrical Laboratory and Red Fred Project. Troy’s three-act family drama THE ROSE GARDEN, a semi-finalist for the O’Neill Playwriting Conference, received a week-long developmental workshop in 2014 at American Theater Company in Chicago. Troy’s play IN A TILTED PLACE premiered at IRT Theater in 2015. His play LAKE WATER, a semi-finalist for the O’Neill Playwriting Conference, was developed at The New Group through the New Group/New Works Reading Series. LAKE WATER received its world premiere at IRT Theater directed by Daniel Talbott. Troy’s play PUSSYCAT was produced by the University of Utah, directed by Sandra Shotwell, and was a regional finalist with Kennedy Center ACTF. Troy wrote the text for FEAST, a multi-disciplinary collaboration between Flying Bobcat and NOW-ID, which was performed at The Great Saltair. As an actor: RABBIT HOLE (Broadway u/s, Manhattan Theatre Club). Regional: RABBIT HOLE (The Huntington Theatre Company, The Cleveland Playhouse); LOVE’S LABOUR’S LOST, A FLEA IN HER EAR (Chautauqua Theater Company).Training: BFA from the University of Utah Actor Training Program.

SANDRA SHOTWELL (Director) has an MFA in Acting from The American Conservatory Theater in San Francisco, an Advanced Diploma in Voice and Speech (ADVS) with Distinction from the Central School of Speech and Drama in London, and is a certified Laban-Bartenieff Movement Analyst (CLMA). She directed KEELY AND DU with Salt Lake Acting Company; the production was named one of the Ten Best Productions for ’94 by the Deseret News and Best Production for 1994 by the Private Eye Magazine’s Reader Poll. Last year she directed BLACKBERRY WINTER and a staged reading of BULL SHARK ATTACK. Also she has dialect coached MR. PERFECT, TWO STORIES, THE EXIT INTERVIEW, GOD OF CARNAGE, and THE PERSIAN QUARTER. She has performed for stage, film, and voice-over. Most recently she played the title role in HECUBA with Westminster’s Classical Greek Theatre Festival. Sandra is a Professor Emerita at the University of Utah. She is overjoyed to be working again with Salt Lake Acting Company and playwright Troy Deutsch to bring BULL SHARK ATTACK into full production.

CARA POMEROY (Set Design) is a recent graduate from the University of Utah Theatre department where she earned a BA in Theatre Studies with a focus on Scenic Design. Her recent credits include CARRIE: THE MUSICAL, DOUBT, and CABARET for Utah Repertory Theatre Company and A FUNNY THING HAPPENED ON THE WAY TO THE FORUM for the University of Utah Department of Theatre. She works as a carpenter and painter for Pioneer Theatre Company.

PHILIP R. LOWE (Costume Design) is the Director of Costumes and Wardrobe for Utah Festival Opera and Musical Theatre. He is a MFA graduate of Utah State University and the 2002 recipient of the Kennedy Center’s National Barbizon Award in Costume Design. Phil currently serves on the Region 8 design respondent panel for the Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival.

JESSICA GREENBERG (Lighting Design)’s work as a lighting and sound designer has taken her to many venues in New York and around the country, with diverse projects in theatre, dance, and opera. New York designs include productions with La Mama Theatre Company, The Adjusted Realists, New Opera NYC, Alivewire Theatrics, Red Fern Theatre, Castillo Theatre, Two Headed Calf, Midlantic Theatre, and Epic Theatre Ensemble Education Programs. Locally, she frequently works with SB Dance Company as well as SLAC. Jessica is currently Assistant Professor of Lighting & Sound Design at Weber State University in Ogden, UT. She holds a BA from Hampshire College and a MFA from the University of Massachusetts Amherst. www.jessicagreenberg.com

JENNIFER JACKSON (Composer/Sound Design) Sound Design credits include ROMEO AND JULIET (Yale Repertory Theatre); THE TALL GIRLS (Yale School of Drama); and THE LAST FIVE YEARS (Salt Lake Shakespeare). Sound Design and Original Music credits include BLACKBERRY WINTER, TWO STORIES (Salt Lake Acting Company); TWELFTH NIGHT, A MIDSUMMER NIGHT'S DREAM, HENRY IV, PART I (Salt Lake Shakespeare); GOOD KIDS, SCHOOL FOR LIES, THE OWL GIRL, ROMEO AND JULIET (University of Utah Department of Theatre); and THE ORPHAN (Children of an Idle Brain Theatre Company, NYC). Jennifer is currently writing her second musical with her hilarious husband, Steve. jenjacksonsound.com

PATRICK MATHIS (Projection Design) is a freelance lighting, projections, and media designer from Warner Robins Georgia. He has worked in regional theaters from Kentucky to Cape May New Jersey and recently found a home as a Graduate Teaching Assistant at Utah State University. His most recent works include Projection design for BASKERVILLE: A SHERLOCK HOLMES MYSTERY at the Lyric Repertory Company. Lighting design for Shawn Fisher's latest premiere FEAR NOT BEASTS OF SAND with the Fusion Theatre Project, and Projection Design for DOGFIGHT with the Utah State Theatre Company. He is a standing member of the Society of American Fight Directors, The Unites States Institute of Theatre Technologies and Actors Equity.

JENNIE SANT (AEA Stage Manager) is happy to be back at Salt Lake Acting Comping, other shows include, BLACKBERRY WINTER, TWO STORIES, I’LL EAT YOU LAST: A CHAT WITH SUE MENGERS,VENUS IN FUR, MANNING UP, THE PERSIAN QUARTER and ANGELS IN AMERICA PARTS I & II. She has also worked at The Egyptian Theatre Company as the AEA Stage Manager on PAGENT and THE MUSIC MAN. Pioneer Theatre Company as the 1st ASM on LES MISERABLES, PAINT YOUR WAGON, DOUBT, A MIDSUMMER NIGHTS DREAM,THE FOREIGNER, VERTICAL HOUR and THE PRODUCERS.

WILLIAM PETERSON (Assistant Lighting Designer) graduated from Weber State University with a BA in Theatre Arts - Lighting Design/Stage Management. He has worked as a stage manager and lighting designer since 2008, and he was the Production Stage Manager for California State University Summer Arts program for the 2016 season. He has assisted designers in New York City at 59E59 Theatres, El Museo Del Bario, and Pershing Square Signature Center, and he recently received the national Barbizon Award for Excellence in Lighting Design from the Kennedy Center for his work on WSU’s 9 CIRCLES (dir. Tracy Callahan). Past lighting design credits include: APPROPRIATE, 35MM, PIRATED, GIRL OF GLASS, DAMN YANKEES, and SHE LOVES ME. Locally, he was worked at the Browning Center, Good Company Theatre, Peery’s Egyptian Theater, Rose Wagner Performing Arts Center, and now, Salt Lake Acting Company. He lives and dies by being in the mountains and enjoys trail-running, playing guitar, traveling, and working in the arts in all its forms. (www.william-peterson.com)

Press Release

Download the Press Release (PDF)


Bull Shark Attack Playbill

Photo Gallery

In the Room with Troy Deutsch

Erika: You are a young, up-and-coming playwright. Tell us a little more about yourself.

Troy: I am from a town of 4,000 people in Minnesota. I went to school at the University of Utah and was in their Actor Training Program. The director of BULL SHARK ATTACK, Sandra Shotwell was one of my professors. Cassie, who plays Tanya in the show, was one of my classmates. While I was in school with Sandy, we were studying Tennessee Williams and Eugene O’Neill, and I had to turn in a writing assignment. Sandy said to me, “I think you should try playwriting.” I started writing this play called PUSSYCAT that is about the end of the rave scene in Minnesota. After I graduated, Sandy read the play and fell in love with it. She got a grant for the play, flew me back to Salt Lake from New York, and produced the play at the University of Utah. She and I just clicked as director and playwright. We both love language and are very into theatrical plays that reach across the proscenium and grab the audience. The play [PUSSYCAT] really shifted my path and got me more interested in writing than acting. I found an agent in New York and instead of having a two minute audition as an actor, I would have two hour meetings about my plays. I loved being on the outside and the tasks were so much bigger, at least for me, and deeper in a way. I really loved creating a whole world as opposed to inhabiting one part of the world. But I think my acting training was the absolute best training for becoming a playwright because more than anything, I love my actors. I know what they are going through and how impossibly hard it all is to be honest in every moment and to be vulnerable night after night. It’s a fantastic experience to give pages to fantastic actors I admire and see how they go inside. They always bring out way more than I could imagine. For BULL SHARK ATTACK, I wrote the part of Tanya for Cassie and she has been developing the character from the beginning.

Cynthia: How long has that been?

Troy: I started writing in the winter of 2012, then in 2013 I had a reading in New York, then in 2014 we read the play here at SLAC as part of the New Play Sounding Series; I would say she has been developing the character since 2013.

Erika: What was your inspiration for BULL SHARK ATTACK? Why North Carolina? Where did you find these characters? What ignited this whole story in your mind?

Troy: I wanted to write for specific actors and I was really fascinated by monologue plays because they are very difficult and the rewards can be huge. Growing up, I lived in the woods and I was randomly scared of aliens and sharks, and I thought, “Well, what if one of my characters just blows these fears way up?” So I started researching sharks. When I was little, I heard that they can survive in fresh water because a lot of them are born in the mouths of rivers. They have found sharks way up the Mississippi and even into Minnesota. I started to look up where actual shark attacks happen in North America, and North Carolina kept popping up. Then I was researching North Carolina. Most of my writing up until this point had been stories in Minnesota, so this show helped me expand my pallet and tell stores that I haven’t told before. But there is something universal about being from a small town, no matter where that town is located. The desire to move to a big city, the desire to leave all the judgement and small town secrets behind, and to be able to follow your dreams.

Erika: Did you develop all three characters simultaneously or did you take your time with each individually?

Troy: This play came out in order. This play came out pretty much finished. It is very traditional in the form, but very subversive and current in its subject matter. I think Jeffie’s journey was the most complicated. I don’t want to give too much away, because he has the most secrets. When I first wrote it, Jeffie was darker the whole way through, then I found through developing the play, that if we kept him smiling with moments of darkness that made the reveal that much more satisfying.

Erika: This play has seen quite a bit of development at SLAC. It was part of our New Play Sounding Series in 2014, and then was workshopped in our Playwrights’ Lab this year. Were there a lot of changes during that development?

Troy: Plays want to be developed, because there is only so much you can do sitting in your room working or sitting around a table with your friends. You really do need resources and a theatre like SLAC has a lot of resources. Giving us the space with directors, dramaturgs and really great actors takes this play to the next level. BULL SHARK ATTACK really benefited from the time it was given, and I felt like the process was very safe. The work itself was scary but the process was safe. The Playwrights’ Lab was even more interesting because it was a longer amount of time, like 9 days, and the work got deeper and more specific. It gave us the time to really go inside the world of the play. Once you get into rehearsal, you don’t always have the luxury of time because you have a goal in mind: opening night is coming up. So it was nice to have that time without having the pressure of an audience coming.

Erika: You said something at the first read through that really struck me about this play being about class in America. Can you elaborate on that?

Troy: Yes, of course. Two of the three characters in this play are from very small towns. They didn’t go to college, they didn’t have access to tons of resources to get ahead and they and their parents are stuck in a cycle. I think this play shines a light on the hopes and dreams of those people and wanting a better life. BULL SHARK ATTACK shows those who are under-represented on the stage and I think that is very exciting.

Erika: What are you most looking forward to about having your show in full production? Even what you are most scared about?

Troy: I am really excited to share the story with an audience. I wish I could be here for every single performance because every performance will be completed in a different way. But I will be here for the first week and I am very excited about that. And I am very excited for the conversations that this play will ignite.