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    For artists, TNT Festival offers a fresh context

    Hannah Bos in the Debate Society’s “Blood Play,” which is part of ArtsEmerson’s The Next Thing Festival.
    Sue Kessler
    Hannah Bos in the Debate Society’s “Blood Play,” which is part of ArtsEmerson’s The Next Thing Festival.

    NEW YORK — It’s easy to see what audiences can get out of a theater festival that brings a lot of work together in one spot. But is there any creative benefit to the artists in being part of that mix? Hannah Bos and Oliver Butler of the Debate Society had just finished a run of “Blood Play” at Under the Radar, an international festival at New York’s Public Theater, when we posed that question to them, and they answered emphatically in the affirmative. “Blood Play,” set in 1950s suburban Chicago and featuring Bos as an anxious young wife and mother named Bev, comes to ArtsEmerson’s The Next Thing Festival Feb. 21-23.

    Butler: We will try and see a lot of the work.

    Bos: Anything that doesn’t conflict with the show, we’ll make an effort to see. Unless we have, like, a cold, we’ll do it.


    Butler: It’s just exciting to see your work in context, especially outside of the context of your normal theater tribes here.

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    Bos: It’s exciting to see what you’re curated with.

    Butler: I think it helps you to understand what other people are doing and what we’re doing. It’s sort of incredible when you start seeing overlaps of interest and completely different focuses. I think it actually adds value to your work.

    Bos: Also, the greenroom is pretty amazing.

    Butler: Oh my God, yeah.


    Bos: I had a wonderful conversation [at Under the Radar] with the Iranian Hamlet. He saw our show, and he was like, “Your character, Bev’s character, reminds me of an Iranian woman.” And I was like, you mean in the past or now? And he said, “Now,” and I was like, what? I mean, that’s so amazing. He’s like, “She’s so pleasing. She’s trying to make everyone happy.” And I was, like, reading into that and trying to figure out, what does that mean? I don’t know if that’s bad to say, but it was so interesting to me.

    Laura Collins-Hughes

    Interview was condensed and edited. Laura Collins-Hughes can be reached at