#32: Meridith Grundei
Meridith Grundei, who came to Colorado ten years ago after excelling in the Chicago improv community, stays busy in many roles, both as an actor and as a theater professional. Her multi-purpose career in the Denver/Boulder region includes acting, directing, teaching and doing improv, in collaboration with such Boulder stalwarts as the Catamounts, Local Theatre Company, Square Product Theatre and the Colorado Shakespeare Festival, as well as the Denver Center for Performing Arts Theatre Company. What inspires a theatrical live wire like Grundei? She answers that question and more via the 100CC questionnaire.
Westword: If you could collaborate with anyone in history, who would it be, and why?
Meridith Grundei: Gilda Radner. I imagine that rehearsing and creating work with her would have been a sketch within itself. Her comedy was effortless to watch.
Who in the world is interesting to you right now, and why?
Robert Wilson. His use of imagery and style is stunning and simple, which is hard to do. He is an amazing theatre director and creator who undoubtedly uses all the elements of the stage in a way that is captivating to the audience.
What's one art trend you want to see die this year?
In the theater scene, it seems like everyone is trying to serve a signature cocktail that complements the show. Most of the time they just taste bad, and this makes me sad. I feel that this needs to be just as intentional as the show if audience experience is the objective. Perhaps I'm a little biased, but I think the Catamounts and Off-Center at the Denver Center have nailed this.
What's your day job?
Aside from performing, I piece a lot of different things together to make a living, from voice-over to consulting. I have my own business called Red Ball Speaks where I use improvisational theater to teach team-building in the corporate world. It is also through Red Ball that I coach folks in public speaking and presentation skills.
A mystery patron offers you unlimited funds for life. What will you do with it?
I would finish a performance piece I started this past year with the working title The Father Project, and perhaps turn it into a documentary. From there, I would travel the world with my family and immerse myself in creative workshops and projects as a participant and as a teacher.
Denver, love it or leave it? What keeps you here — or makes you want to leave?
I like Denver, but I definitely have an itch to leave it. I guess I have a phobia of becoming too comfortable. Our world is full of inspiration, and I would hate to miss a life-changing opportunity or experience by staying in one place.
What's the one thing Denver (or Colorado) could do to help the arts?
A super-train between Denver and Boulder. People don’t like to commute to these places to see a show, and that confuses me.
Who is your favorite Colorado Creative?
There are so many people on my favorites list, but I have to say, if I can only choose one, it is the guy I share a bed with. My husband, Gary Grundei, leaves me in constant awe. He is an incredibly talented musician who does it all — from his band, High Fiction, to leading a growing gospel choir to the music he writes for the Denver Center. I am always impressed by the level of professionalism and care he puts into his work. I don’t think he does anything half-assed, except for maybe organizing our shed in the back yard.
What's on your agenda in the coming year?
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I have a lot going on, and all of it is exciting. My main focus will be on my business and continuing to research and write The Father Project (working title). Presently, I am proud to be directing Beowulf, A Thousand Years of Baggage for the Catamounts in Boulder. After that, I will be co-facilitating a devised theater piece called Pain Management for the 2017 Local Lab, performing in Stories on Stage for Mother’s Day and in The Taming of the Shrew for the Colorado Shakespeare Festival. I will also be performing once a month with Playback Theatre West. Playback is an improvisational form where we take stories from audience members and play them back. I have been in this company for almost nine years, and I love it.
Who do you think will get noticed in the local arts community in the coming year?
I think Austin Terrell has it going on. I look forward to seeing where he ends up. Great guy!
The Catamounts presents Beowulf: A Thousand Years of Baggage, a musical directed by Meridith Grundei, February 23 through March 18 at the Dairy Arts Center. Grundei will also perform in Pain Management as part of Local Lab 2017, also at the Dairy, March 17 through 19. Learn more about Meridith Grundei online.