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Tracy Sunderland


Tracy Sunderland is a director and actor with Boise Contemporary Theater (BCT). She also teaches introduction to theater and acting classes at Boise State. Sunderland can currently be seen in The Memory of Water at the Fulton Street Theater through December 23. Tickets are available online at or by calling 442-3232.

BW caught up with Sunderland before the opening of BCT's latest production.

BW: You teach intro to theater and also acting at Boise State. How long have you been doing that and what is that experience like for you?

Oh, gosh, it's been like seven or eight years now. It's a bit schizophrenic; teaching intro and acting are very different. It keeps me humble, balances me out.

Which is better, life on or off the stage?

Well, I don't know if this is a sad testament to my real life, but I often find life on the stage more exciting. I basically get to live more lives on stage instead of being the same old me.

You act and direct. Which is your favorite?

I'm forever exploring different forms. I'm trying to write some stuff as well, explore that side. But they both have different requirements, so they satisfy me in different ways. That's why I like switching it up, because they satisfy different aspects of being a creative person.

It seems like there are more women directors emerging. Was it breaking through a glass ceiling for you to become a director?

No. But I know that, yes, women directors are certainly a minority. I've never felt personally like I didn't get a job because of my gender.

Theater in Boise has obviously grown quite a bit in the last 10 years. Where do you think it will be 10 years from now?

I certainly see it growing and being able to sustain and support more companies in a year-round setting.

If you could switch places with any celebrity actor, who would it be?

Felicity Huffman and Cate Blanchett. I think they're great actors, I admire them and think they're quality, authentic actors.

Any "dream" piece of work you'd love to perform?

I think that's why I've started writing, too, to sort of explore what it is exactly that I want to do. I'm not really driven by dreams of, "I've got to do this role or this play." I tend to have favorites of the moment and then sort of move onto the next thing. I've certainly had dream roles that, as an actor, have passed me by, because you get older and stuff happens and you missed the chance, but you have to grow up and move on. But there's always something new on the horizon, so I try to move forward in that way.

What role do you think working stage actors have in their community?

I think I'm a bit reticent to wax philosophic about that. I think it says something really profound about a city for thinking that it can sustain it's people as artists. I applaud Boise, for the people, government and community really do it better and longer and more. I think it says that what lasts are the voices of artists. They are the echoes of your community.

Tell us about the play that's opening.

It's called The Memory of Water, and is by Shelagh (pronounced Sheila) Stephenson. She's Irish. It's a bittersweet comedy about three sisters who've come home to bury their mother. It's been a lot of fun; really great people, it's a very generous group of artists to me and to each other, very playful and inventive--and a heart attack, like it always is.