Buffalo Theatre Ensemble presents the world premiere of ‘Into the Earth With You’

Buffalo Theatre Ensemble presents the world premiere of “Into the Earth With You” by Brian Watkins, directed by BTE’s Kurt Naebig.

Featuring an all-ensemble cast, this mysterious dramedy is full of heart, humor, unexpected twists and turns, dynamic family relationships and assurances that the spirit world is all around us. It will open with a preview performance on Thursday, May 2, and continue through June 2. The press opening is Friday, May 3.

Granddad is gone. No elegies. No dirges. But his three granddaughters cannot forget what is buried. When a mysterious discovery upends their notions of loss, it has the three sisters asking each other “who among us has been digging?” This new play is penned by the creator of the Amazon Studios' television series “Outer Range,” which has its second season scheduled to debut this May.

“I’m so excited to have the opportunity to direct the world premiere of this new play by fellow Juilliard alum Watkins,” Naebig said. “It was at an alumni event where I had the opportunity to hear a reading of the first scene and immediately knew it was perfect for BTE. It’s quirky and fun, but full of heart and has a couple of the most surprising moments I’ve ever seen on stage. It’s also incredibly well written and offers the opportunity to show off the amazing talents of our ensemble.”

The all-ensemble cast for “Into the Earth With You” features: Robert Jordan Bailey (Jim Elbert), Lisa Dawn (Mary Carver), Laura Leonardo Ownby (Carly Carver), Kelli Walker (Quinn Carver) and Norm Woodel (Granddad).

The design team includes Kurt Naebig (director) Sarah Lewis (scenic design), Kimberly Morris (costume and properties design), Christopher Kriz (original music and sound design), Garrett Bell (lighting design) and Neil Massey (violence director). The stage manager is Jenniffer Thusing; assistant stage managers are Riley Skalski and Daniela Luna, Student ASM.

Playwright Watkins’ most recent play “Epiphany” premiered at Lincoln Center Theater where it received five Lucille Lortel nominations and an Outer Critics Circle nomination for Best New Play.

Beginning this May, the second season of his television series “Outer Range” can be seen on Amazon Prime Video. Other plays include “Wyoming,” “Evergreens,” “Into The Earth With You” (upcoming: BTE premiere), “My Daughter Keeps Our Hammer” (upcoming: Teatro dei Fabbri in Trieste, Italy), and “High Plains” among others.

His plays have been produced internationally by Druid Theatre at the Galway International Arts Festival under the direction of Garry Hynes, at The Flea Theatre and Lesser America under the direction of Danya Taymor, as well as at the Williamstown Theatre Festival, The Juilliard School, Campania Teatro Festival in Italy, Edinburgh Fringe, Creede Repertory, and more. He is under commission from Lincoln Center Theater and the Denver Center Theatre Company. A 2016 O'Neill Finalist, Watkins is a former Juilliard Lila Acheson Wallace Playwriting Fellow and a current New Dramatists resident playwright. Currently, Watkins is writing original screenplays for Warner Bros and Steven Spielberg’s Amblin.


There will be a preview performance at 8 p.m. Thursday, May 2. The opening will be Friday, May 3, at the McAninch Arts Center, 425 Fawell Blvd. in Glen Ellyn. The play will run through Sunday, June 2. Performances are 8 p.m. Thursday to Saturday and 3 p.m. Sunday. Tickets are $44. For tickets or more information, visit or call (630) 942-4000. The box office is open noon to 6 p.m. Tuesday to Saturday and two hours prior to performance. Please note: This play features adult language and situations.

There will be an ASL performance at 8 p.m. Thursday, May 23.

• Pre-show discussion with director and designers at 6:46 p.m. Thursday, May 2

• Post-show discussion with director, actors and crew Friday, May 10

About Buffalo Theatre Ensemble

The Buffalo Theatre Ensemble is the professional, Equity theater company in residence at the McAninch Arts Center. Its mission is to provide a forum in which artists, scholars, writers, students and community members explore new ideas and provocative issues through the production of quality theater for the enjoyment of its audiences. Since 1986 BTE has staged more than 120 productions.

The ensemble members are: Aly Greaves Amidei, Robert Jordan Bailey, Amelia Barrett (Associate Artistic Director), Bryan Burke (Business Manager), Connie Canaday Howard (Managing Artistic Director), Robyn Coffin, Rebecca Cox, Lisa Dawn, Nick DuFloth, Jon Gantt, Christopher Kriz, Laura Leonardo Ownby, Michael W. Moon, Kurt Naebig, Galen G. Ramsey, William “Sandy” Smillie, Kelli Walker and Norm Woodel. For more information, visit

Buffalo Theatre Ensemble is partially supported and funded by generous grants from Arts DuPage, Choose DuPage, College of DuPage Foundation, The Norm Woodel Inspiration Fund, the DuPage Foundation, Benevity, Illinois Arts Council Agency and the generous support of the College of DuPage Trustees and the McAninch Arts Center Staff.

The 2023-24 season is dedicated to the memory of Buffalo Theatre Ensemble friends Loretta Hauser and Michael J. McCoy, with deep appreciation

Kurt Naebig
Lisa Dawn
Robert Jordan Bailey Courtesy of Brian McConkey Photography
Kelli Walker
Norm Woodel
Laura Leonardo Ownby
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