EASY Theatre Cast photo by Chester Eitze Click to download print quality photo
Cast Photo Chester Eitze: 
Front:  Engela Edwards with Toto; Back left to right:  Alicia Gust, Rachel Edwards, Lisa Holcomb. 
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Pruning the Family Tree
A Play by Daniel Gordon
Directed by Engela Edwards
Interview with the Pruning director below.

This Texas Première production opened in Austin and Bastrop, and is now part of the EASY Theatres Touring Roster.  Info@easytheatre.com  and 512-468-8382  See booking calendar here.

About the Play

Pruning the Family Tree, is a crazy comedy with a twist.  In this quirky, clever, and humorous story, three generations of southern women gather for the weekend.  Pruning the Family Tree treads the boards between dark comedy and bright wit.  It is sometimes poignant, sometimes silly, often surprising, and not to be missed.  These amusing characters are expertly and honestly portrayed by four wonderfully-talented, quick-witted, and sharp-tongued actors. 

An award-winning play and award-winning actors combine to create a well-anticipated and delightful theater experience.

Pruning the Family Tree was a finalist in the Eugene O' Neil Centers National Playwrights Conference and the 2010 Texas Nonprofit Theatres' POPS, and won the Heller Theatre's new play competition.  This production is representing Austin in the American Association of Community Theatre’s AACTFest11 which is a national theatre event that brings together the best community theatre productions from across the country. 

Produced by special arrangements with the author.
PG-13 Some adult language. 
Can be presented with no adult language.

About the Playwright Daniel (Dan) Gordon:
Daniel GordonDan's involvement in theater spans 25 years and includes everything from painting sets for community theater productions to judging playwriting competitions for state arts councils, and he has written six full-length stage plays.  Dan resides in Bartlesville, Oklahoma with his wife/best friend, Tina.  They have three adult sons.  Dan earned a B.S. degree in Business Administration, a practical choice that allowed him to earn a living for many years.  He recently retired from his career with a public utility company to devote himself full time to his true passion - writing. 

After seeing the EASY Theatre production of Pruning the Family Tree Dan Gordon wrote:  "I wanted to say again what a great job you guys did, or as we used to say in Virginia, what a great job ya all did.  This was the first time I'd seen the show with the southern woman's personality in full bloom and I really enjoyed it.  I'm having lunch next Tuesday with our company director to discuss the possibility of having you guys bring the show up here for a weekend.  I'll let you know how that goes.  Please pass along my thanks to the cast and your entire company!"

About the Cast:
Alicia Gust has a love and talent for the craft acting.  She began her stage experience competing in beauty pageants.  Over the years, she won several titles including, Ms. Petite Texas, Ms. Petite International, Miss Hawaiian Tropic Texas, and Mrs. Texas Galaxy.  She was a radio personality in Houston, and callers were frequently challenged to make her laugh "snort" on air.  Audience will enjoy that same snort during this production.  She's a very versatile actor. 

Lisa Holcomb has her Masters in Child Development.  She started acting only after her children were in shows at the Opera House.  She quickly became a regular on the Opera House stage.  She is excited to be in the touring company of this show.  She is outstanding in comic roles.

Rachel Edwards started acting at age three.  She was in her first show when she was four and has been in 43 productions.  Her acting skills are in high demand and she is currently cast in three shows in addition to Pruning.  She’s has toured throughout Texas. 

Engela Edwards thinks of herself as an actor first and a director second, yet the last dozen years she has spent more time directing than acting.  She has a BFA in Drama and teaches acting.  Engela played Louise in Always…Patsy Cline last summer and will reprise the role in July at the Bastrop Opera House.  In addition to Pruning Engela is currently directing a musical and two one-acts for February.

Q & A with the director Engela Edwards

Q.  The show was amazing.  What was the most important thing you did in directing the show?
A.  Casting.  The humor in the script comes from the fact that these are real women, not caricatures.  So I chose actors who can play these women honestly, and who make me laugh in real life.  I think the best actors are very intelligent, so I cast intelligent women.  The script is difficult, so I cast hard workers who are excited by and committed to the project.  I knew we’d have to spend a lot of time together to make the show look easy, so I picked people who are enjoyable to be around.  I knew I wanted to take this production on tour and to competitions, so I cast actors who love to perform and relish a challenge. 

Q.  We’re in the theatre audience, yet we really feel like voyeurs in someone’s living room.  How did you accomplish that?
A.  From the first reading until the just two weeks before opening night, we rehearsed in the actors’ actual living rooms.  The blocking was naturalistic and changed depending on whose home we were using.  We also took furniture, photos, and mementos from the actors’ homes and used them in the theater, so we were as comfortable on the set as we’d been in our living rooms. 

Q.  The dog is hilarious.  Isn’t it difficult to work with an animal running loose on stage? 
A.  WC Fields said, "Never work with animals or children," but I love both, and so do audiences.  We would all miss the dog if she were not there.  Animals are an important part of our homes and our lives.  I knew that all the actors were good enough to adapt to whatever she did, and talented enough that the dog couldn’t steal the show.  I think she keeps the show fresh.  Part of the excitement of live theatre is that it is unpredictable.  Having a live animal in front of a live audience just adds to the excitement.  Toto had been in my production of Oz, so I knew she could do it.  Toto is not a trained animal performer.  She’s just a well-loved pet.  Toto loves people.  If she had her way, she’d be running around the audience and going from lap to lap, so unfortunately the only places I can use her are when we are in theaters where the stage is extra high or there is an orchestra pit. 

Q.  What was the most difficult part of the rehearsal process? 
A.  Life itself.  We started rehearsing months ago, because we all have other acting projects, and we are active volunteers in various organizations, so we had to plan around those commitments.  We had to fit our rehearsals around our lives and the joys and disappointments that life throws at you.  We supported each other through births and funerals.  During the rehearsal process, two grandchildren were born, a brother died, a friend lost a child, and husband lost one job and found another.  There was a wedding dress to buy, and a child and brother to help move into his first “non-rental” home.  There were birthday parties, illnesses, and crazy relatives and friends.  There were children who were playing football, cheerleading, and in parades and performances which we couldn’t miss.  There were family vacations, and board meetings.  There were people who needed our help.  There were cars that needed fixing and children that needed mending.  There was always at least one small child at our rehearsals and various animals, and it wasn’t unusual to pick up a prop sack with a cat in it or to stop rehearsal to attend to a diaper or spilled milk.  Supporting each other, and laughing and crying together through all of this made us stronger friends and a stronger cast.  The show is about family, and life made us a family, and it shows in the production.

Q.  The script is very funny.  How did you choose it?
A.  I love to direct shows that the audience has never seen, so they don’t know what to expect.  People send me scripts all the time, but this one I was lucky enough to come across as a first-round reader in the Texas Nonprofit Theatre’s play competition.  When I read this script, it made me laugh.  There were words I wanted to say aloud and four strong and funny roles for women.  The author is coming from Oklahoma to our last performance in Austin, and I’m looking forward to meeting him.

Q.  Would you change anything?
A.   Yes, every performance should be sold out.  The audiences so far have been just great, and very appreciative.  They have cheered, clapped, and given standing ovations.  Audience members are returning with their friends, and one is coming back with her mother.  I have no complaints.  I just want more.  I believe that comedy is best experienced live and with others; the more people the better; and laughter is infectious and best shared with friends.

The cast: 

  • Engela Edwards as Marilyn Casey
  • Lisa Holcomb as Barbara Casey
  • Rachel Edwards as Christy Ferguson
  • Alicia Gust as Ellen Casey Ferguson
  • Toto as Toto
Touring Tech:  Cindy Thompson
Texas première production: 
Produced by special arrangements with the author.
PG-13 Some adult language. 

Some of our Crew:
Light & Sound Operators:  Cindy Thompson & Susan Keys
Sets:  Engela, Rachel & Bill Edwards; Lisa & Will Holcomb; Alicia & Tony Gust; Chester Eitze, Nick Collier
Props & Costumes: Alicia Gust, Lisa Holcomb, Engela & Rachel Edwards, Cindy Thompson
Rehearsal Assistants:  Landon & Keaton Holcomb
Tickets:  Lisa Holcomb, Engela Edwards
Light, Program, & Poster Design: Engela Edwards

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EASY Theatre

EASY Theatre is a 
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Theatre is EASY
  • EASY Theatre is doing theatre we love, with people we love, for people we love. 
  • EASY Theatre is an ensemble built upon cooperation and sharing. 
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  • EASY Theatre seeks actors, directors, writers, producers, technicians, designers, and teachers who work for the love of the craft and the art, and provides them opportunities to learn  through production. 
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