by Chris Ricci
Some people look at modern forms of entertainment and say that we are at the apex of the consumer experience. The ability to stream pop culture and digital media has ushered in a new era of how we consume media, and anything that isn’t as easily accessible is deemed archaic. However, there is another school of thought held by many that views the more simple forms of entertainment as superior to the new. This group of people believes that we are not only far from the peak of entertainment, but that now is the perfect time to reintegrate its earlier, better form.
Nate Bertone’s disillusionment with the stereotypes of his generation provided is not only vocal, but surprisingly accurate. “As I have grown older, it has occurred to me that we are currently living in a generation where human contact and emotional connection is hard to come by,” he said. “Many people today prefer to sit at home behind a computer screen, or watch a movie on Netflix, rather than to leave the house and actually interact with one another.” Nate knows the cause of this, and thinks that there’s a simple solution. “This is obviously a product of the technology in today's society, but I strongly believe that Theatre and Art can act as a catalyst for human interaction, and for that reason, I write and design theatre pieces in hopes of bringing a group of people together in an experience that can never be recreated.”
Nate’s passion for theatre has been prominent for years. Starting small with an ushering job at the North Shore Music Theatre, Nate has gone on to work with the likes of Tony-award winning designer Beowulf Borrit. Being on all sides of the stage has given Nate a perspective on the art of the stage and how truly personal it can be. “To me, art is a reflection of yourself. Without personal stories, art would all be make believe, and to a certain extent, I feel as though art needs to come from a raw place or else it will not serve it's purpose.” Education and work experience are all fine and good, but the takeaway is only as grand as you make it out to be. “Through work in Salem, Marblehead, Carnegie Mellon University, and North Shore Music Theatre, I have come into my own and discovered that my focus in life is to create art that evokes human emotions that are often silenced in today's age,” said Nate. “Whether that be designing, writing, or directing, my goal is simply to tell these stories.”
Nate’s musical, Letters From War, is about as personal as it gets; the story of a grandmother in the advanced stages of alzheimer's is a direct reflection of Nate’s grandmother, and the actions of the family are a more polished version of things that Nate’s family went through during this difficult time. “I began writing this play in response to my Nana's diagnosis, and to me, this piece explores the journey that my family and I have embarked on – a journey of losing a loved one, while becoming stronger as a family.”
The production will be running at the Salem Theatre Company, a place where Nate has developed quite a connection. “I have been active at STC for the past 7 or so years, beginning as a designer, and now taking on several different roles. John Fogle and Gary LaParl were incredible mentors and helped me find my direction in life,” said Nate. “Now under the direction of Matt Gray and Catherine Bertrand, STC is also giving me the opportunity to nurture and develop this new play back in my home town. I could not imagine a better place to premiere this play, as so much of this story comes from the lives of my family that lives here is Salem.”
Having a show premiere in the town you love can be difficult, but Nate is optimistic. “It is my hope that audiences will leave the theatre and discuss what they have seen,” said Nate. “This piece is not being produced simply to tell my story, but rather, to spark difficult conversations surrounding love, loss, and troubling times in a familial setting.” In the end, Nate only has a little bit of advice for those attending this production: “Prepare for an emotional night of theatre. This piece has it's laughs, but it also has it's deeper and more serious moments. Bring your families, friends, and open yourself up to talk about difficult subjects. PLEASE -- put down your phone, and enjoy live theatre and human interaction.”