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Entrevista: Peter Zinn Director Of Benefactors

by Antonio Miniño on November 19, 2010

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Peter Zinn

Peter Zinn

Peter Zinn is no stranger to Retro Productions, having helmed their incarnation of Holy Days and Women and War. He was kind enough to answer a couple of questions regarding his past, his upcoming plans and what it’s been like to be directing Michael Frayn’s Benefactors, which you can still catch tonight at the Spoon Theatre.

How do you use collaboration in your directing process?

Collaboration with the actors is key when developing the characters early in the process.  I rely heavily on them to give me as many choices and take as many suggestions as I can possibly give them.   The truth inside each actor is unique to that actor – my job is to pull out that specific truth inside them that is going to fuel that specific character.
You’ve worked with Steppenwolf Theatre Company as a performer in the past. What do you think differentiates them from New York theatre companies?

I think they embody what’s so great about Chicago theatre.  Companies can take larger risks in Chicago because there just aren’t the major financial hurdles one has to to deal with in New York.  Chicago has a large community of theatre artists who can afford to live in Chicago on a significantly lower cost of living.  Equity rules are far more lenient in Chicago than New York so producers don’t have to risk as much money; space, marketing, etc. is cheaper.  All of this enables a richer soil for new innovative work that can veer away from the commercial aspects.  Steppenwolf embraced this in their early days and now they are one of the most important theatre companies in the world bringing their stuff to Broadway and The West End on a regular basis.

Your one-act play Waiting to Land recently received a production. What was that like?

It was great!  It was the first play I ever had produced and it was a thrilling experience to see it on the wonderful HB Playwrights Foundation Theatre Stage.  The one act eventually led to a full length version called Rumspringa that ran off-Broadway at Bleecker Street Theatre.

Matthew Semler and Heather E. Cunningham | photo by Alisha Spielmann

Matthew Semler and Heather E. Cunningham in Benefactors | photo by Alisha Spielmann

What can you tell us about Benefactors?

It’s a play about two smart London couples who are emotionally stifled.  Their relationships are diseased and damaged from within and are almost in complete disrepair (which always makes for an interesting story).  They fight to heal themselves and find a natural order and an alpha leader in their dysfunctional modern tribe - it’s a fascinating struggle.

What’s next on your agenda?

I’m directing Bill Quigley and C.S. Drury’s play Found at HB Playwrights Foundation Theatre.  I’ve directed a few plays by this incredible writing team and I’m very excited to working with them again.  After that, I start directing a workshop production of The Third Miracle by Richard Vetere at The Gene Frankel Theatre.  Richard wrote the screenplay by the same title starring Ed Harris and Anne Heche and this will be the first stage version of the story.


Retro Productions presents
By Michael Frayn
Directed by Peter Zinn
November 3 – 20, 2010
Wednesdays, Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays at 8 pm
There will be two special performances Sunday, November 7th at 3 pm and Monday, November 15th at 8 pm.
Tickets are $18 and $15 for seniors with valid ID.
There is a $5 student rush with valid ID, based on availability.
Tickets can be purchased by calling Theatermania at 212.352.3101, or online at
The Spoon Theater | 38 West 38th Street, 5th Floor | Manhattan
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