© 2024 Boise State Public Radio
NPR in Idaho
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

How Growing Up In Idaho Has Shaped 'Genius' Playwright's Work

A man sits in the center focal point of the picture. He's wearing a blue shirt and black glasses and behind him are brown auditorium seats.
John D. & Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation

The Idaho playwright who was awarded a MacArthur 'genius' grant this week has traveled far from his hometown of Moscow, but continues to revisit the state in much of his work.

Samuel Hunter now lives in New York, and has a play opening this weekend in Chicago.

Hunter's latest play "Rest," which runs for the next three weeks at Chicago's Victory Gardens Theater, takes place in a northern Idaho retirement home. In November, he's opening a play titled "Pocatello" in New York.

But despite the fact that Hunter frequently sets his plays in Idaho, he says there is nothing quintessentially Idaho about them.

“I set these plays in places, very deliberately, that could be anywhere in the country because I don’t want to do something that’s just illuminating the Idaho experience for a larger audience.” Hunter says. “It’s really about non-urban America."

Hunter says growing up in Moscow has shaped his work in a lot of ways. It gave him a typical small-town childhood in some way, but he says having the University of Idaho gave him a window to a larger world. That's especially true for the plays he was able to see at the campus theater.

"Setting them (his plays) in Idaho grounds them for me personally in a way that allows me to invest myself in a really active way. Even though I’ve been in New York my entire adult life, I still feel like my heart and to a certain extent my soul is in Idaho. I still feel deeply, deeply connected to that place.”

Find Adam Cotterell on Twitter @CotterellAdam

Copyright 2014 Boise State Public Radio

You make stories like this possible.

The biggest portion of Boise State Public Radio's funding comes from readers like you who value fact-based journalism and trustworthy information.

Your donation today helps make our local reporting free for our entire community.