Meet Rachel Mink, our director behind When We Were Young and Unafraid

When you have the chance to interview the director of a show like When We Were Young and Unafraid, you celebrate it! Rachel Mink is making her directorial debut with our company, but is no stranger to creating art on stage, as she has directed, assistant directed, and served as a dramaturg on many productions around San Diego. Rachel’s favorite credits include: Heathers: The Musical (Wildsong Productions), It’s A Wonderful  Life: A Radio Play (PowPAC), Life After (The Old Globe), A Doll’s House:  Part 2 (San Diego REP), Hand to God (San Diego REP), and Hairspray (SDMT). Rachel holds her M.A. in Theatre Arts from SDSU and her B.A. in Theatre Arts from UC Riverside.

We were so thankful for the chance to interview Rachel about this labor of love… her production! Read on for more:

What drew you to this show?
I had learned that the production had almost happened pre-Covid and now the company was without a director. When Matt approached me about directing this season, he mentioned the show was still in need of a director and once I read the script, I was hooked. I get excited about theatre that forces us to check our privilege, to walk in someone else’s shoes that you may not be exposed to in your everyday life. I love the kind of theatre that inspires hard discussions on the way home. When We Were Young and Unafraid has that in spades. Sarah Treem manages to tightrope walk the line between dealing with some really heavy subject matter and still managing to keep it relevant and accessible for audiences of all backgrounds. I was also excited to get to take a cast deep into the messiness of what love and family really mean to these characters. Digging into such a meaty show has been a lot of fun.

What about this show makes it relatable to the cast and crew?
The political climate we live in now is not so different from 1972, and women are still fighting for their rights and bodily autonomy in places around the country. We spent some time early in the process going through a dramaturgy packet I put together that really highlighted the significance of the time period we were to portray, as well as underlining how little time has passed since then. Unfortunately Mary Anne’s story is not a solitary one, and while there are more resources and support from the judiciary when it comes to domestic violence, the fact remains that domestic violence is still a problem. Our cast and crew are acutely aware of the heavy nature of the topics discussed in the play, as well as recognizing how we as a society need to and can do better.

What creative choices did you most enjoy building into this production?
I really enjoyed collaborating with the actors and talking through the motivations of each character in every scene. I’m a big fan of doing table work at the beginning of a production, and getting a chance to dig into a text and ask questions. It’s always a joy to make discoveries in the rehearsal room throughout the process. I enjoyed getting the often-buried humor to land, and finding those moments of levity and love within the show. 

What has been the biggest challenge of the process? What about the biggest triumph?
Props! So many food props! This play really feels like it’s happening while life is going on in Agnes’ house, so it follows that she’d be making muffins, and cooking, and doing all of the things associated with running an Inn. I know it has been a challenge for actors to get comfortable using the props as if it’s routine while still managing to keep their stakes up and have conversations with one another. I think the biggest triumph has been putting this beautiful play together with all the tech and sets and costumes. It’s been a challenge for sure, but it’s been an absolute labor of love. 

What are you most hoping that the audience takes away from this production?
I hope audiences go home and cherish the women in their lives. I hope they really think about the choices women are faced with when the worst happens, and then I hope they work to make sure there are more options for women facing such hardship. 

Is there anything else you’d like to share that hasn’t been asked above?
It’s been an absolute honor working with this cast and creative team, and I am so proud of everyone’s hard work and dedication to making this play happen. I just hope more people come see it! 

Thank you so much for sharing your special project with us, Rachel! And please consider joining us this Sunday at our post-show talkback immediately following the Oct. 24 matinee. Audiences in attendance will be invited to ask a variety of open questions for the 30-minute event, which will be attended by all cast members and select members of the production team. Tickets available now!

We look forward to seeing you in the audience of When We Were Young and Unafraid, running through October 31!