The Court has changed since 1991, the same year the ensemble was founded. So has ERS. Collaborators have come and gone, and thanks to their success with Gatz, the shows—larger, fuller, more polished—now tour throughout a network of presenting partners.

Still, Collins says he's trying to keep things fresh and resist pressures to manufacture another hit. The company's been collaborating with a living playwright, Sibyl Kempson, who has created a text for them to stage this year at the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis. The director also toys with the thought of a future piece based on Congressional debates over the 14th Amendment ("it doesn't have the nice, concise quality of a one-hour oral argument"). And he wonders if ERS could do something with Shakespeare or Chekhov, those titans of world theater repertory.

John Collins keeps his clothes on at the Public
Celeste Sloman
John Collins keeps his clothes on at the Public

But mainly, regardless of the author or source, Collins wants audiences always to wonder: "'Is this a pre-imagined performance, something that was already written down and planned, or is this something that is just happening right now?' Which," he adds, "is the province of theater."

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