SJSU in the News: Psychology Professor Takes the Stage for San Jose Rep’s Insight Night

Pizarro: There’s nothing spooky about the San Jose Rep’s insightful discussions

Originally published in the San Jose Mercury News Aug. 30, 2011.

By Sal Pizarro

The play’s the thing, as they say, but theatergoers would benefit from attending the San Jose Rep’s Insight Night discussion.

The people behind the Rep’s upcoming show talk about the creative process and field questions from the audience during the free, hourlong sessions.

About 250 people came Monday night to hear the background of “Spring Awakening.” The talk was led by Director of Outreach Karen Altree Piemme and included Artistic Director Rick Lombardo; Sonya Tayeh, making her debut as a theater choreographer; actress Eryn Murman; and San Jose State psychology professor Bob Cooper, who talked about the musical’s themes of adolescent turmoil.

The discussions aren’t anything new to the Rep, but they used to be called Ghostlight Forums. Nick Nichols, the Rep’s managing director, told me the name was changed because the theater term “ghostlight” was unfamiliar to general audiences.

“Rick and I decided that what we’re sharing is ‘insight,’ so we went with that,” he said.

Just so you know, a “ghostlight” is a bare bulb left burning onstage in a darkened theater. The reasons for the practice vary from keeping people from bumping into sets or falling into the orchestra pit to soothing the spirits inhabiting the theater. It was a clever term to attach to the discussions, which take place on Monday when theaters are traditionally closed.

“Spring Awakening” starts previews Thursday, with opening night Sept. 7. The next Insight Night is Oct. 10 for “The Last Romance.” Get details at

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