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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