5 Things we learned at 'The Nest' Perspectives … Like 'Mansplaining'

‘The Nest’ Perspectives conversation on Jan. 22 at The Jones Theatre, from left: BrIan D. Coats, Director Adrienne Campbell-Holt, Lighting Designer Grant W. S. Yeager and host Douglas Langworthy, Photo by John Moore for the DCPA NewsCenter.

A The Nest Perspectives 300Perspectives is a series of free panel conversations moderated by DCPA Theatre Company Literary Manager Douglas Langworthy. They take place from 6 p.m. to 6:45 on the evening of each production’s first preview performance. The next two Perspectives will be held tonight Jan. 29 (All the Way), and Feb. 5 (FADE) in the Jones Theatre. No reservations necessary.

Here’s some of what we learned from Langworthy’s conversation with cast and crew of The Nest, Theresa Rebeck’s world-premiere new play written specifically for the DCPA. “This play is about the dream of wanting your life to turn out a certain way, and it hasn’t,” said Director Adrienne Campbell-Holt. “It’s about combative people trying to create their own tribe. It’s Chekhov meets Cheers meets Long Day’s Journey Into Night.”

1 PerspectivesThe Nest takes place entirely in a bar. And, perhaps surprisingly, there is not a long tradition of successful plays set primarily in bars. Three that leap to mind are Eugene O’Neill’s The Iceman Cometh (1936), Conor McPherson’s The Weir (1997) and Steve Martin’s Picasso at the Lapin Agile (1993). Iceman is set in Harry Hope’s dank skid-row bar in 1912. The Weir plays out in a rural Irish pub and centers on ghost stories. Picasso imagines Albert Einstein and Pablo Picasso meeting at a bar in Paris in 1904.

There are a few others, but not a lot funny ones. And The Nest is funny. DCPA Producing Artistic Director Kent Thompson has repeatedly said he thinks the opening scene of The Nest is the funniest he has seen in any new play in years.

2 PerspectivesThe Nest Carly Stret and Brian Dykstra. Photo by Adams Visual Communications. A bar should make for an irresistible setting for any playwright. Why? It’s a place where people naturally tell stories. A bar offers a writer endless possibilities in characters, but generally bars gather people who have known each other for years and really know how to push each others buttons – without necessarily being blood family. And then there is the booze. “Alcohol tends to fuel the story and the emotional response,” said The Nest actor Brian Dykstra, himself a playwright. People tend to loosen up faster with alcohol.” (Photo above: Carly Street and Brian Dykstra in a scene from ‘The Nest.’ Credit: Adams Visual Communications.)

3 PerspectivesWe learned a new word, courtesy of the director: “Mansplain.” It refers to a man explaining “the way things are” to a woman in a manner regarded by the receiver as condescending or patronizing. “There are characters in the play who talk about being sick of listening to guys ‘Mansplain,’ said Campbell-Holt, who proudly identified herself as a feminist. So too, by the way, has Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. “I am proud to be a feminist,” Trudeau said this week at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland. “The role we have as men in supporting and demanding equality, and demanding a shift, is really, really important.”

4 PerspectivesIt pays to tell someone your feelings. Nearly 30 years ago, Dykstra and Rebeck were students at Brandeis University in Boston. Rebeck wrote a play that Dykstra saw and liked, but he had to leave as soon as the performance was over. “So I left her a fan letter in the mailbox on the way out,” he said. Nine years later, Dykstra met Rebeck at a party, and she remembered the note. “I guess you don’t forget your first fan letter,” he said. Dykstra has since become one of Rebeck’s go-to actors, having recently played the lead role in her roast of academia called Seminar. Rebeck is now writing a play as a star vehicle for Dykstra to play a chef. It is expected to be staged later this year at the San Francisco Playhouse.

5 PerspectivesRobert Schenkkan’s Tony-winning best play All the Way follows The Nest with an opening night here at the Denver Center one week from tonight (Feb. 5.) The celebrated play focuses on how LBJ and MLK got the historic Civil Rights Act passed in 1964. And wouldn’t you know: Dykstra just played LBJ in a production of All the Way for the Repertory Theatre of St. Louis. Asked for his insights, Dykstra compared the task to Sisyphus being forced to roll that immense boulder up a hill, only to watch it roll back down. “It’s not told in an episodic way, so people are coming and going so fast that there are times when you don’t know what scene you are in,” Dykstra said with a laugh. He also wished his Denver Center counterpart C David Johnson well because, he said, “I think I had only five minutes where I was not on stage.” 

Video: First look at The Nest:

The Nest: Ticket information

  • theresa-rebeckBy Theresa Rebeck (pictured right)
  • Jan. 22-Feb. 21
  • Space Theatre
  • When you have a seat at the bar called The Nest, no conversation is off-limits, whether you’re speaking or eavesdropping. That is, until a stranger walks in with a lucrative proposition. Pulitzer Prize finalist Theresa Rebeck’s plays “may make you laugh or shudder (or both)” according to American Theatre, and with its feisty humor and scorching dialogue, this explosive new comedy holds a cracked mirror up to friendships, romantic relationships and families.
  • Tickets: 303-893-4100 or BUY ONLINE

  • Previous NewsCenter coverage of The Nest:

    The Nest flies in face of national gender trends
    Theresa Rebeck: Bar plays should be ‘humanly reckless’
    Five things we now know about that bar
    Cast list announced
    Theresa Rebeck is not getting angry: She’s getting even
    ​American Theatre magazine: The Colorado New Play Summit Is a Developing Story

    Meet the Cast profiles (to date):
    Meet Kevin Berntson
    Meet Brian D. Coats
    Meet Brian Dykstra
    Meet Victoria Mack
    Meet Carly Street

    Photos: The Nest in process:

    The Nest

    Photos by John Moore for the DCPA NewsCenter. To see more, click the “forward” arrow.

    Photos: The Nest production photos:
    The Nest

    Photos by Adams Visual Communications. To see more, click the “forward” arrow.

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