This is an incredibly exciting time for theater in Boston: Not only do Boston audiences regularly have a diverse array of choices, but productions born right here are continuing to find success elsewhere. Local companies like the Huntington Theatre Company and the American Repertory Theater regularly foster new work, and a handful of those productions either have made or will make their New York debuts. At any given time, we have our pick of world premieres, classic revivals, forgotten masterpieces, Shakespeare, and the work of promising, budding new playwrights.
Playwright MJ Halberstadt is one such playwright. Halberstadt, who earned his BA in theatre education from Emerson College and his MFA in playwriting from Boston University, has a lot to be excited about this year. Next spring, two of his plays will enjoy full productions: The Bridge Repertory Theater will present The Launch Prize, and Fresh Ink Theatre Company will mount That Time the House Burned Down. Right now, The Boston Teen Acting Troupe is presenting another Halberstadt play, i don’t know where we’re going but i promise we’re lost, running at Boston Playwrights’ Theatre until Aug 16.
Written a number of years ago, Halberstadt revisited and reworked i don’t know where we’re going when it came to his attention that the Boston Teen Acting Troupe was looking for a play with compelling teenage characters. It’s a timely, emotionally fraught play with complicated and layered characters: It’s no wonder that director Jack Serio thought that it would serve the troupe well. Another exciting element of the play is the use of an original score, written and performed by Tom Freeman and Covey, a Boston-based indie folk band.
Nineteen-year-old Devon and his two younger brothers run away from their parents and relocate to Boston where they barely scrape by, squatting in the South End apartment of Devon’s girlfriend’s deceased uncle. The impetus behind the escape is related to middle child Joshua’s gender transition, which their parents have been forcefully unwilling to accept.
While Halberstadt admits that this is “an exciting moment for trans issues,” the play is not specifically about trans themes: “It’s almost post-trans,” he said. Rather, this is a satisfying exploration of love, and a story about the journey of three brothers whose fear of being betrayed often clouds their ability to express their feelings.
It’s now been several days since I’ve read the play, and I remain impressed by Halberstadt’s richly drawn characters and by the aching tone of his work. I wasn’t present at Saturday’s opening, but MJ had this to share with me: “I’m feeling very good about it all. It’s just a matter now of getting the folks there to see it—and especially young people.”
The ability to enjoy the early works of a promising playwright is an opportunity that must be taken advantage of, and Boston audiences have three opportunities over the next year to do just that. If i don’t know where we’re going but i promise we’re lost affords even the slightest glimpse of what’s to come from Halberstadt, Boston theatergoers are about to get even luckier.
BOSTON TEEN ACTING TROUPE. FOR MORE INFORMATION AND UPCOMING PRODUCTIONS, VISIT BOSTONTEENACTINGTROUPE.COM