By Audrey Rowland

Meet our Electrics intern, Erin Butts.

Erin grew up in Maine and South Carolina. She graduated from the University of Maine last year with a double major in Communications and Theater, both with Honors.

Erin Butts
Erin Butts

AR: What are you most looking forward to this 2019-20 Season at Trinity Rep?

EB: I was most excited for August Wilson’s Radio Golf, out of all the shows this season. Before this year, I had never seen or worked on an August Wilson play. This seemed like a great opportunity and it has been — I love this show.

AR: What does theater mean to you? Why is it important?

EB: I think it’s one of the best ways to tell a story and to get an idea across to a large audience. You can influence people in a way that they wouldn’t necessarily get otherwise. I know with our shows this season we’ve challenged our audiences a bit. You can do so many things even with work that’s been done thousands of times. You can take Shakespeare and turn it into anything you need to — it’s fantastic. Theater is telling the stories that need to be told.

AR: What’s your favorite part of the production process?

EB: I like tech week. I like ten out of twelves (a twelve-hour rehearsal day where at least ten hours are spent working on technical elements, like lights or sound). It’s when you finally see everything that you’ve done start to work and go together. There’s lots of little changes that happen and a lot of stuff to do. You can make choices about how to adapt things that weren’t what you thought they were going to be. It’s the troubleshooting portion.

AR: Speaking of favorites, what was the best class you took in college?

EB: In the Honors program at the University of Maine, we had what was called the Civilization Sequence, which were classes you took your first two years that explored the creation of society. My first Civilizations class was the most productive class I’ve ever been in in terms of thinking critically. We read a book a week, and then we’d come to class, sit in a circle, and just talk about it. It was about figuring things out for yourself.

AR: What did you want to be when you were growing up?

EB: A marine biologist. I thought dolphins were really cool. There was a book series when I was a kid, The Dolphin Diaries, where the main character lived on a boat with her family. They were marine biologists that studied dolphins, and she had all of these adventures with the dolphins. I took a marine biology class in high school and it was interesting, but it made me realize that I did not want to do that anymore!

AR: What’s your favorite theatrical production?

EB: I love Come From Away. I cry every time. I’d start listening to the cast album when I drove to school, and by the time I pulled up to campus, I’d be weeping. I got to see it on Broadway this past summer, which was really exciting. A cast of about ten actors play forty people, and they make it look seamless. There’s never a doubt in your mind about what’s going on or who’s who. That’s one of my favorite things about theater: you can take something that’s so complicated and make it accessible.

AR: Cool! How about your favorite book?

EB: The Handmaid’s Tale, by Margaret Atwood. That was one where I started it and devoured it immediately. It’s a terrifying book, but it’s so good. It’s not something you’d expect to hear about. That’s my favorite kind of book: stories that you wouldn’t always hear, or that aren’t the primary narrative. I’ve probably read that book twelve times.

AR: What do you like to do in your free time?

EB: I like to cook a lot, and to bake. I try to cook a couple of different things in a week. I’ll try to make new things sometimes. I think that’s fun. I’m making a silken tofu Korean stew this week.

AR: And last, but not least, what’s a fun fact about you?

The 2019 production of Inanna at the University of Maine, written and directed by Erin Butts. 
Photo by Matt Lavoie.

The 2019 production of Inanna at the University of Maine, written and directed by Erin Butts.
Photo by Matt Lavoie.

EB: I wrote a play! It’s called Inanna: A Modern Interpretation, and it’s based on the mythology of the ancient Sumerian goddess Inanna. I read one adaptation of the myths by Diane Wolkstein, written in the late ‘70s, in an Honors class freshman year, and I decided to write my own version of the mythology for my thesis. I wanted to look at the myths from a modern perspective, to tell a broader audience these stories and show why they’re important.