Benjamin Viertel: "The Bitter Tears of Petra Von Kant" / by Declan Maloney Drummond

What made you choose ‘The Bitter Tears of Petra von Kant’ as the next show for Third Space?

I’ve loved The Bitter Tears of Petra von Kant for quite a while, I encountered it the first time about 6 years ago and immediately knew I wanted to direct it. The play presents many ‘problems’ and as a young director I challenge myself to choose projects that are problematic – that scare me – and find creative ways to solve those problems. I believe it’s my duty as a director to create meaningful experiences and to push my audiences into discomforting relationships with text, ideas, characters, or situations. Our lives are filled with “unsympathetic” characters and so should our works of art. It’s important to interact with those characters, test our perceptions of those characters, and ultimately question our own interactions. This play does all those things for me.

How did you develop the piece at Abrons Arts Center?

After Third Space’s first production at The Brick, I was invited as a Resident Artist at the Abrons Arts Center to begin developing our next work. I was in residency for 2 months in 2016 and again for a month in 2017 working on this play. If it weren’t for the generosity of the staff at Abrons Arts Center and the Henry Street Settlement, I and Third Space, wouldn’t be here today. Those two institutions support artists and their creative processes with great enthusiasm.

The company works across multiple disciplines. Was it a conscious choice to move across mediums in your work?

Absolutely! We believe it’s to our benefit to work in multiple mediums to cultivate as large a support and patron group as possible. The audiences from our webseries become our audiences in the theater and vice versa. Moreover, we believe the future of the theater is a universal one, with each medium influencing the other and forming together to create a complete experience.

What’s your hopes and aims for Third Space moving forward?

We are currently in development on several new works, as we begin planning a production of a new work in New York City in the following year. On April 1st, Season Two of our webseries, [Blank] My Life, premieres and in the fall our new musical, Grindr The Musical, will go on tour in Italy. It is our goal to branch out around the country and reach audiences that don’t attend theater in New York City in addition to having our work being seen across the globe.

How would you describe ‘The Bitter Tears of Petra von Kant’ in 3 words?

Provocative, obsessive, romantic.