Chatting with Ernest Hemmings, the writer/director of ‘The Proletariat’

Catch the final showings of Ernest Hemmings’ The Proletariat at Las Vegas Little Theatre this weekend.
Saeed Rahbaran
Jacob Coakley


The Proletariat
Continues January 17-19, 8 p.m., $10-$15.
Las Vegas Little Theatre's Fischer Black Box, 362-7996

Ernest Hemmings made his bones in the Las Vegas theatre scene with his Test Market Theater ensemble. His latest work, though, is being produced by Las Vegas Little Theatre. Titled The Proletariat, it plays like a cross between his beloved Beckett and Dilbert. We sat down with Hemmings before a sold-out showing.

Where did The Proletariat come from?

The whole idea was how the workers were constantly feeding themselves into this corporate machine with the hopes that one day they’re going to get ahead, and yet they never do. Everyone had a very visceral experience in the theater last night. It was weird. Everyone was coming up to me and confessing to me their corporate nightmare stories. At the end of the story I’m hoping that everyone will see this and be like, okay, maybe this whole idea that money rules all and capitalism is a good thing isn’t necessarily a rule. Maybe there are other options or other ways of thinking of this.

How did it work with you being the writer and director?

I don’t think that I could grammatically express how the process works, other than it is really frustrating for the actors because we’ll get four lines in and then I’ll have them go back and do it again and just try a different inflection, because it’s all audio-based for me. So by the time we walk out of the rehearsal, the actors already have that chunk of dialogue memorized, because we’ve done it so many times. It’s painful.

That would drive me nuts.

There are quite a few people who are like, “I will never ever work with that man again.” But there are many who trust that because of all this detailed rehearsal, I won’t make them feel embarrassed onstage in front of an audience.


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