Breanna Bietz Plays with Terminators

November 11, 2019

Photo Credit

Kathryn Lane Photography

Interview by

Valerie Lopez

Article by

Richard Goodwin

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With the lat­est wave in the Ter­mi­na­tor fran­chise blast­ing its way into the­atres, there’s prob­a­bly nev­er been a more apro­pos time to wel­come this week’s guest, Bre­an­na Bietz. 

No, Bietz is not from the future, nor is she out to end someone’s life to save the world (that she acknowl­edges, any­way), but she is the direc­tor and cre­ator of Ter­mi­na­tor: The Musi­cal. Cor­rect, I did say The Musi­cal” after the word Ter­mi­na­tor. The show is a par­o­dy trib­ute and com­pan­ion to the first two movies in the fran­chise (also some­times known as the only good movies in the fran­chise”), Ter­mi­na­tor, and T2: Judg­ment Day, and ran every Sat­ur­day at Fall­out The­atre from May to Octo­ber. For the moment though, let’s go a bit the­mat­ic and jump back to Bietz’s past. 

Bietz is a South Dako­ta native, and also cre­at­ed the ever-pop­u­lar local show Fuck. Mary. Kill. Com­e­dy with Dat­ing Apps, and is a mem­ber of the renowned troupe Lisa Frank. She found her­self pur­su­ing per­for­mance from a young age, if in a bit of a scat­ter­shot man­ner, with tal­ent show and choir per­for­mances, before ditch­ing the arts for a time and focus­ing on sports and engag­ing in a right of pas­sage bad kid” phase. 

Along the way, sketch shows like The Whitest Kids You Know and SNL con­tin­ued to fan the flames of Bietz’s latent pen­chants for per­form­ing. Despite a long­stand­ing desire to exit the state, and after school hop­ping the uni­ver­si­ties South Dako­ta had to offer, she ulti­mate­ly fin­ished out with a degree in per­form­ing arts from the Uni­ver­si­ty of South Dako­ta. She found a pock­et of improv cul­ture there, and, as seems to be typ­i­cal in her life, threw her­self into breath­ing life into the group and shows. For good mea­sure, she tried a dose of stand-up in the mid­dle of this expe­ri­ence as well, but her real break­through moment came when she took the oppor­tu­ni­ty to write her first play. Writ­ing feels good! I can make everyone…tackle the tan­gled mess in my brain,” she says of the real­iza­tions from that experience.

Writing feels good! I can make everyone...tackle the tangled mess in my brain.
Breanna Bietz

As Bietz start­ed stretch­ing her cre­ative legs, she fol­lowed a path to the Uni­ver­si­ty of New Orleans, bourne on the wings of the pages of that first script, into a grad­u­ate writ­ing pro­gram. This all start­ed around 2014, and it was this far back that the idea for Ter­mi­na­tor was ger­mi­nat­ed. In the event you’ve been hid­ing under a rock, and we can’t blame you giv­en the state of the world, the cur­rent year is 2019; the fact that Bietz’s fledg­ling idea held on, took life in var­i­ous forms, and came to its cur­rent fruition, over the course of 5 years is a per­fect tes­ta­ment to her tena­cious style. 

While the oppor­tu­ni­ties and cul­ture of New Orleans was a major step up for Bietz, she soon became innate­ly aware that it was time to take yet anoth­er jump for­ward, and in 2017 made the move to our fair Austin. Bare­ly paus­ing for breath, she got involved in the improv scene here, and cre­at­ed the long run­ning Fuck. Mary. Kill. at Fall­out The­ater while also teach­ing and doing a month­ly vari­ety show. Bietz notes that Fall­out The­ater has become her home, and coin­ci­den­tal­ly, the inter­view hap­pens on loca­tion at the the­ater. Since then, she says she’s picked up” more improv troupes, includ­ing Lisa Frank, and drops a hint in the inter­view about yet anoth­er com­ing to stages soon. 

A recur­ring theme in Bietz’s cre­ations has been the meld­ing of music and com­e­dy. While she claims no musi­cal or instru­men­tal tal­ent, she appears to have quite the knack of pulling from exist­ing bod­ies of art, and their tones and moods, to bring her cre­ative intents to life. I’m more of a lyri­cist. Okay…I’m just a bossy lyri­cist,” she admits with a laugh. The world of the stage, and improv in par­tic­u­lar, has its own artic­u­lat­ed dance of teach­ing its mem­bers to give and take direc­tion, and it’s yet anoth­er com­po­nent Bietz cred­its with find­ing the right way to both lead and collaborate. 

I’m more of a lyricist. Okay...I’m just a bossy lyricist.
Breanna Bietz

Which leads us to, if you will allow the theme to con­tin­ue, the present. As of Octo­ber of this year, Ter­mi­na­tor: The Musi­cal became a liv­ing breath­ing machine. It’s been nom­i­nat­ed for three B. Iden Payne awards, includ­ing for stage man­age­ment, and for Bietz in par­tic­u­lar for Direc­tor of Musi­cal The­atre. It is con­sis­tent­ly well reviewed, and, in per­haps one of the most impor­tant aspects of a the­atri­cal adap­ta­tion”, offers just as much to new­com­ers as fans of the name­sake films. And all this with the show play­ing in the com­fy Fall­out The­ater, up against major con­tem­po­raries play­ing in Austin’s oth­er cav­ernous theaters. 

While the cur­rent run of Ter­mi­na­tor end­ed in late Octo­ber, Bietz has a clear desire to see it live on in some form; as we’ve seen, time is (and I swear this will be my last fran­chise ref­er­ence) a bit imma­te­r­i­al, and we’ve no doubt she’ll return to it when she finds the right space and oppor­tu­ni­ty. In the mean­time, she has the afore­men­tioned projects in the air, as well as some exper­i­men­tal new ideas. One is titled The Floor Is Lava, and she’s work­ing as direc­tor with pre­vi­ous CW guest Robyn Reynolds to deliv­er a Christ­mas spe­cial in December. 

This ful­some vari­ety has giv­en Bietz the chance to stretch her legs both under the lights and behind the pages. Giv­en her tal­ents, it’s no sur­prise she’d dab­bled in the New York expe­ri­ence, and would­n’t pass up the oppor­tu­ni­ty to bring some­thing to fabled Broadway. 

But for now, Beitz is thank­ful, busy, and set­tled in Austin, which means you’ll have plen­ty of chances to see her work and cre­ations for some time to come. Of course, the future is unwrit­ten (I lied, one more ref­er­ence), but we expect it holds noth­ing but ever expand­ing suc­cess and ful­fill­ment for her for years to come. 

Catch Bre­an­na Bietz at these upcom­ing shows and all over the Austin com­e­dy and improv scene:

…and fol­low her projects on social media:

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Breanna Bietz