Bradford Rosenbloom: Bridging Theater and Community

Friday Sep. 1st, 2023

In the realm of theater, visionaries constantly emerge, pushing the boundaries of creativity and storytelling. One such luminary is Bradford Rosenbloom, a name becoming synonymous with innovation and transformative experiences within the theater world. With a career already marked by impressive accomplishments, Rosenbloom is gearing up for an upcoming production that promises to reshape the way we perceive and engage with theater.

A Journey of Creativity and Exploration

Rosenbloom’s journey in the world of theater has been nothing short of remarkable. From his early days, Rosenbloom sought to reach people through art and the exploration of and subsequent openness of self. Rosenbloom comes to Bozeman by way of New York, where he studied and performed, honing his craft and developing his own theatrical philosophy.

In addition to theater, Rosenbloom currently instructs Performance in Public Speaking, the freshman seminars at Montana State University. He also teaches humanities at Bozeman Field School, coaches speech interpretation at Gallatin High, and the craft of Embodied Performance at Last Best Comedy, Headwaters Academy and Verge Theater.

Rosenbloom has consistently demonstrated a knack for pushing conventional limits, and states that his educational philosophy “is constructed out of a lifelong fascination with how the mind works, how the body responds, and how that impacts one’s perception. I work with my students, presenting ideas and experiences that are simple, clear embodiments of my philosophy: how consciousness of details creates a direct interaction with your own skill of awareness.” His unique ability to blend his background in theater with his passion for education has led to the creation of unforgettable experiences that linger in the minds of theatergoers and students alike.

Upcoming Project

Theater enthusiasts and industry professionals eagerly await Rosenbloom’s upcoming project— directing Red, written by John Logan. The play is set in the late 1950’s within the studio of Mark Rothko, (portrayed by Evan Wilmes) as he struggles to fulfill his commissioned obligation to the Four Seasons Restaurant. Rothko’s assistant, Ken, (played by Isaac Mills) questions Rothko’s motivations and his theory of art and expression. When asked what inspired him to direct Red, Rosenbloom states; “Red questions our perspective on art, and art in everyday life—how we live and what we see through the lens of two heroic and tragic characters. This investigation of joy and sorrow exposes our audience to these paradoxical emotions. When sitting together during these discoveries, hopefully one feels less alone. Red evokes all the senses through the purity and distortion of classical music and jazz, and what happens when those worlds collide. In addition, live action, such as plastering and priming on stage, stimulates the audience’s senses, eliminating theatrical illusion. If it is happening in real time, it is authentic, no one is acting, it is all grounded in truth and meaning.”

Those familiar with Rosenbloom’s previous work, such as his recent direction of Middletown, have developed an expectation for a raw, provocative, and honest display of human vulnerability, and the story of Mark Rothko’s largest commission in the history of modern art will not disappoint.

Collaborators and Cross-Disciplinary Approach

Central to Rosenbloom’s ethos is the idea of collaboration. He has a history of working closely with experts from diverse fields, and community members of various backgrounds, with the aim of creating holistic experiences that resonate emotionally and intellectually. His commitment to fostering a collaborative environment extends to his rehearsals, where performers are encouraged to contribute their ideas and interpretations. Evan Wilmes, co-founder of Empty ( ) Space Company, painted seventeen original pieces of art as a backdrop for the performance. KC Luchsinger, the sound designer for Red, states, “Bradford & Evan offer me an intense amount of creative freedom. They come to me with challenging concepts or ideas that I need to translate into sound, but also, we get to brainstorm together, coming up with new directions to go in by feeding off each other’s creative energy. Bradford never does the ordinary; never takes the easy path. When Bradford brings me a project, I know it’s going to be challenging, but it ends up as something truly unique.”

These sentiments are reflected by Julie Seitel, the lighting designer for Red; “Bradford and Evan are collaborators in the truest sense: They bring their passions and ideas and creative impulses to their full design team as half-formed possibilities, and ask all of us to lean into the process with creativity and curiosity. KC and I throw out crazy ideas; some fall aside as not successful, but some blossom into synergistic elements of the story. A particular lighting or sound idea might strike Bradford and Evan as a metaphor the actors can work with, or as a provocation for a change in motivation, or a way to force the audience to step out of the box and adopt a new perspective on the play. Bradford and Evan understand the possibilities and power that creative, deliberate, and intricate lighting and sound designs can bring to the story.”

Through fostering relationships in the community, Bradford keeps a finger on the pulse of need in Bozeman. With the creation of Empty ( ) Space Company, Rosenbloom and Wilmes envision a theater experience that extends beyond the stage to engage with and benefit the wider community. During the production of Red, a residency at Verge Theater, Rosenbloom collaborated with Thrive, (a local community-based organization providing mentoring, education, and support for children and families to ensure their future success). Alex McGee, the Director of Development and Strategy at Thrive, reflected on Rosenbloom’s request for collaboration, stating; “We were thrilled, and grateful. Bradford kindly took the time to learn about our programs and the tangible impact they are making locally. This support will help us continue to dig into our mission in this growing and changing community.” Demonstrating this collaboration, theater attendees can purchase raffle tickets for an impressive cache of prizes from Bozeman community sponsors, with proceeds directed to Thrive. McGee states, “This partnership has already brought Thrive’s name across new eyes, and that is crucial for any organization like ours that relies completely on various types of fundraising to function and serve. It’s clear that, like Thrive, these organizations are passionate about community, education and collaboration, and we are thrilled to be working with them on their upcoming production.”

When asked if he intends to make the donation element a permanent part of his theater work in Bozeman, Rosenbloom responded, “Yes! It’s an instinct. It’s obvious. Why wouldn’t I? How sensational to be able to make beautiful things and give back to the community in which the art is being produced.”

Shaping the Future of Theater

As the curtain rises on Empty ( ) Space Company’s upcoming premiere project, there is a palpable sense of excitement within the theater community. Rosenbloom’s unique ability to merge the human experience with his dedication to immersive storytelling positions him as a trailblazer for the future of theater. His work not only challenges our understanding of the art form but also reimagines the possibilities of human connection and engagement.

In an era where entertainment options are constantly evolving and at times are polarizing, Rosenbloom’s commitment to pushing the envelope reminds us that the heart of theater lies in its ability to move, provoke, and transform. As audiences eagerly await his next creation, one thing is certain: Bradford Rosenbloom is a name that will continue to shape the landscape of theater for years to come.

A Montana State University faculty member, Kelsey Green is currently pursuing a Ph.D. in American Literature. She teaches Writing, Critical Thinking, and Writing for Leadership, as well as Community and Identity seminars.