Meet the Director of Shipwrecked!

Meet Trevor Hoffmann, Director of "Shipwrecked! An Entertainment"

What drew you to "Shipwrecked” as a director, and what is it about the show that you believe will resonate with the audience?

Shipwrecked: An Entertainment is an absolute playground for a director. The show challenges everyone involved to deliver an exciting, high-impact story with low-tech, classic theater techniques – stunts, tumbling, mime, puppetry; you name it, it’s in Shipwrecked!  It’s a story that can only be told on stage, and demands a small team of dedicated and skilled actors of various ages; I knew I’d be looking for some incredibly special people when casting this show, and I got them! The show is written as a love letter to the larger-than-life style of storytelling that makes theater unique and magical.

Could you describe your vision for this production?

Much of my vision for the show is borrowed directly from the words of the play’s writer, Donald Margulies.  In his notes, published with the script of Shipwrecked, Margulies is direct and poetic about the need for the show to be theatrical, as opposed to cinematic.  He maintains that there is something special and vital about the way live theater sparks and fuels human imagination; he also asserts that our imaginations, and our ability to experience simple wonder, are at risk of being lost in a world where film and television can deliver perfect realism so easily.

Shipwrecked is a beautiful example of all the things theater can do that other media simply cannot do, and I am leaning into that with this production. Theater requires imagination! We won’t be attempting to fool the sense with perfect photorealistic effects – instead, we will be presenting a fun and action-filled tale, full of opportunities for the audience to stretch their imagination muscles and come along on the adventure with us.

There's an unspoken contract between audience and performer, that they will all gather in the same space to be told a story by those ready and excited to tell it. Our production of Shipwrecked will not attempt to fool the senses with photorealistic projections or digital sound cues.  We will present it, as nearly as we are able to, just as a troupe of five actors in about 1905 could have produced it. There is incredible power in the simplicity of actors, with rudimentary tools, practicing their craft with effort and sincerity.

What is your experience with directing, and are there any past productions that you believe particularly showcase your expertise in this genre?

I’ve been directing theater for seventeen years, and I seem to gravitate to shows that are “meta-theatrical” – that have multiple levels of non-reality going on onstage.  Some of my proudest past productions are “The Fantasticks” at Sonoma Arts Live (which presents a troupe who and “Drood”, which I produced at the Petaluma Phoenix. The first show I ever directed was a little-known Andrew Lloyd Webber musical called By Jeeves! – based on the P.G. Wodehouse Jeeves and Wooster books. That show was (like Shipwrecked) a play within a play, with actors playing multiple characters and using found objects in an imaginative way in order to tell a story. Also like Shipwrecked, it was full of fun bits where the actor underneath the character was allowed to poke through. Of course, By Jeeves! was self-produced -- I formed a theater company with my own generation of Cinnabar Young Rep alums in order to make it happen during the summer after my freshman year of college.  So Shipwrecked is proving to be a best-of-both worlds situation, for me: It’s a wonderful homecoming to the same kind of theater craft I began my directing career with – and I enjoy the support of Cinnabar’s small-but-mighty (and absolutely wonderful) production staff and design team.

As a director, what do you hope the audience takes away from this production?

I hope audiences come ready to have a good time and hear a fantastic story!  This show offers so many chances to feel a sense of wonder, and to stretch the imagination muscles that might not always get enough exerise in an era of photorealistic cinematic overload.  So I look forward to sharing this tale, and the work of our incredible cast and design team, with our audiences, and taking them on this exciting surprising journey with us!

Catch Shipwrecked April 12-28th!