Kim Rubinstein, head of the UCSD undergraduate action program, is directing the West Coast premiere of playwright Richard Greenberg’s “The American Plan” at the Old Globe Theater in San Diego.
Rubinstein has both taught and directed throughout her career, which included stints at Long Wharf Theatre, Northwestern University, University of Chicago, Wesleyan University, the School at Steppenwolf, and national tours.
“Teaching, for me, is a sanctuary and a laboratory,” Rubinstein said.
She accepted her current position at UCSD in April 2007, drawn by the university’s reputation.
Part of her fascination with acting is what she terms the “elusiveness” of the craft. During her own personal studies and apprenticeships, she experimented with physical and abstract theater. It is the same kind of experience she tries to create for her students. She calls this “wilderness training.”
Before refining technical craft skills, Rubinstein believes actors should explore the boundaries of their internal and external environments so that they can become deeply reactive. Her classes are about the process of acting, not the final product. This enables her students to learn balance: a willingness to risk being off balance, yet at the same time knowing where your stability lies.
“Ultimately, you have to have both,” she said.
Rubinstein was drawn to “The American Plan” because of its themes. To her, the play is about the enormous desire for connection to someone who really gets who you are and the need for authentic identity that is kept in check by societal and personal relationships.
“Richard Greenberg does an amazing job of setting up what we think of as a romantic comedy and suspense, and then all of our expectations are turned upside down,” Rubinstein said. “Every day in rehearsal, I am thrilled and amazed by the many, many layers of these characters.”
When directing, Rubinstein works to develop the psychological and physical manifestation of the characters through her actors.
“The stage is like a petri dish, with the people looking down on this human experience,” she said.
“The American Plan” opened Feb. 23 and runs through March 30. For Old Globe tickets and show times, call (619) 23-GLOBE or visit www.theoldglobe.org.