A Critic's View

Denver's theater scene struggles to reach critical mass.

"I do love this town," says Shadow's Nickelson, "and that's why I'm not giving up. We're not going anywhere. Until all the wheels break on this wagon, we are going to be here."

Brett Aune describes the process of preparing for his role as van Gogh. He remembers asking a curator from the Denver Art Museum how the painter had carried himself, something Aune obviously couldn't learn from books or reproductions. The curator, who could easily have discussed the oils the artist used and the number of bristles on his brushes, was stymied. Finally, Aune found a sentence saying that after van Gogh had cut off his ear, he began to favor that side of his head. "I just started thinking, walk around and see what that feels like," says Aune. "Maybe it meant he's got a hunch in the shoulder; he wants to hide the fact he's cut off his ear because he's ashamed. That developed into a physicality, with one shoulder higher than the other, and eventually it transformed into this lumbering cranky gait."

Brett Aune in Waiting for Godot .
Michael Ensminger
Brett Aune in Waiting for Godot .

Aune is aware that his quest to make a living in Los Angeles may force him into commercials, though his hope is to become a working character actor: "One of those guys, you turn on the TV, and you go, I know I've seen that guy a hundred times before, but I don't know who it is." But his attachment to Denver is clear, and so is his commitment to working on a stage. With any luck, Denver will eventually provide the stimulus and stability to keep actors like Aune in town.

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