Buffalo Theatre Ensemble closes season with the premiere of ‘Into The Earth With You’

If you want to experience something absolutely unimaginable, scary and philosophical, you should attend the world premiere of “Into The Earth With You” presented by Buffalo Theatre Ensemble. The play runs now through June 2, at 8 p.m. Thursdays through Saturdays, and 3 p.m. on Sundays at Playhouse Theatre located at the McAninch Arts Center in Glen Ellyn.

“Into The Earth With You” is written by Brian Watkins, the creator and executive producer of the Amazon series “Outer Range,” and directed by actor and director Kurt Naebig, who is a member of Buffalo Theatre Ensemble and also a member of Actors’ Equity Association, the Union of Professional Actors and Stage Managers.

According to the program, the story takes place at a quaint cabin home, far outside a small town, somewhere in the mountains. It is September, with the first act taking place in 1999, the second act taking place seven years later, and the third act taking place seven years after that.

The play is so complicated and thought-provoking that it took me a few days to absorb it after I saw it on May 2. It’s a story of three sisters whose granddad died. It seems like the story is straightforward and in some ways can be called average (things happen, relatives die …), but in this case everything is quite different.

In the beginning, one of the sisters listens to a tape, on which she is talking to her granddad, and during that conversation he dies. Pretty scary, right?

That’s true, but there was one phrase that she said on that tape that she probably shouldn’t have said. You can call me superstitious, but by saying that phrase she probably put a curse on herself. Later events prove that she did.

In any case, this play can be called both drama and comedy: drama because of the sad situation with the granddad and because of the complicated and not always happy relationship between the sisters, and comedy because of the way the whole situation is presented and the way the actors demonstrate their characters. Their acting is a piece of art by itself, and their interaction with each other is quite interesting.

There is also something that is in the middle of attention, which is best described in the Buffalo Theatre Ensemble’s description of the play. “Granddad is gone. No elegies. No dirges. No dowries. It all goes in the grave. But three sisters can’t forget what’s buried when an impossible discovery upends their notions of loss, and gets the women asking: who among us has been digging?”

How did this world premiere come to Glen Ellyn? That’s an interesting story by itself.

“In 2017, I attended a reunion at The Juilliard School,” wrote Kurk Naebig in the Director’s Note. “While I was there some of the writers in the playwriting program did readings of short scenes from their shows. One scene had three women playing sisters. It was funny, moved fast, had heart, was mysterious, and the scene really stuck with me. A few weeks later I called the school and asked if I could read a copy of the entire play. It was ‘Into The Earth With You’ by Brian Watkins. I was immediately taken by it … The mystery, the conflict, the comedy, the myriad surprises and the difficult but truthful relationship these three sisters shared, made it impossible for me to put it down.”

Now, Naebig is happy to bring together a talented group of actors and designers to show the Buffalo Theatre Ensemble’s world premiere of this thrilling play.

The roles of the main characters are presented by wonderful actors. The role of Granddad is presented by Norm Woodel; the role of May Carver is presented by Lisa Dawn; the role of Carly Carver is presented by Laura Leonardo Ownby; the role of Quinn Carver is presented by Kelli Walker; and the role of Jim Elbert is presented by Robert Jordan Bailey.

Production management and directorship of the play include the following high-level professionals: original music and sound design is by Christopher Kriz; scenic design is by Sarah Lewis; lighting design is by Garrett Bell; managing artistic director is Connie Canaday Howard; associate artistic director is Amelia Barrett; costume, hair, makeup, and properties design is by Kimberly G. Morris; and violence director is Neil Massey.

The production staff is also full of great professionals, such as stage manager Jennifer J. Thusing and assistant stage managers Riley Skalski and Daniela Luna (BTE stage management scholar), to name a few.

One thing that should be mentioned about this production is that everyone can relate to it. The characters of three sisters are very different, so everyone can find something that he or she relates to. The attitudes of the sisters to the situation are also different, which is quite interesting. This production makes you think and analyze. Plus, the play does have something that makes it different. It shows dynamic family relationships and assurances that the spirit world is all around us.

“It has elements of the supernatural, it’s a little bit creepy, and it feels pretty contemporary too,” mentioned Naebig in his interview to MAC Director Diana Martinez.

Please, also be aware of adult themes and language in the play.

The run time for this production is 2 hours with a 15-minute intermission. An ASL (American Sign Language) performance will be on Thursday, May 23.

It’s Buffalo Theatre Ensemble’s 37th anniversary season, and “Into The Earth With You” is a great conclusion of it.

Tickets are $44 or $42 for age 60 or older, age 17 or under; online fees apply. For tickets, call (630) 942-4000 or go to

The box office is open noon to 6 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday and two hours prior to performance.

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.

Article Comments
Guidelines: Keep it civil and on topic; no profanity, vulgarity, slurs or personal attacks. People who harass others or joke about tragedies will be blocked. If a comment violates these standards or our terms of service, click the "flag" link in the lower-right corner of the comment box. To find our more, read our FAQ.