Brüka’s Scott Beers
When I meet Scott Beers, he’s drinking a plum-colored concoction that looks like a fruit smoothie. He quickly explains that it is, in fact, a mix of root vegetables that tastes like the earth it came from. He is not drinking it for the flavor, but because he has to.
Until a few months ago, Beers smoked a pack of cigarettes a day. Instead of forgoing addiction altogether, he replaced his habit with an equally consuming passion for whole foods and healthy living.
His relationship with theater is similar. Beers does not consider it a job, exactly, even though he works full time as artistic director of Reno’s Brüka Theatre and just manages to eke out a living. For him, theater is more of an obsession.
“Those of us committed to theater are doing it out of a desperate need to create,” he says. “You’re not going to get a lot of attention, and you’re not going to make much money, but if you work hard, it can be quite rewarding.”
As Beers tells the story of his career, the themes of hard work and perseverance are prevalent. Conspicuously absent are glitz and glamour.
Beers started performing at the age of 8 and had a Hollywood agent and a list of acting credits by the time he was a teenager. He split his childhood between Reno and Los Angeles and struggled with conflicting forces: his passion for performance, his desire for a “normal” life, his dissatisfaction with Los Angeles and his feeling that the city was his only option.
“If you’re talented, you’re supposed to go to L.A. or New York,” he says. “I tried doing what I was supposed to do, and it wasn’t right.”
According to Beers, most performers in Los Angeles were focused on being discovered for film or television, which didn’t interest him. When he couldn’t find the art he was looking for, he decided to create it himself.
In 1993, Beers returned to Reno and founded Brüka as a children’s theater. As community support grew, Brüka evolved, expanding its repertoire and reaching a diverse audience.
“You might see an older couple dressed up for the opera sitting next to a young person wearing jeans and a T-shirt, and they’re all comfortable,” Beers says. “That’s something I love about this community.”
His pride and emotion for Brüka are apparent, but he is not blinded by success.
“We’re vigilant about deadly theater. If someone has a bad experience at one show, it could hurt the whole group,” Beers says. “Every project has to be completed, wrapped up and high quality.”
Quality theater requires dedication bordering on insanity. Beers himself is an actor, director, producer, designer and chief custodian of the Brüka home on First and Virginia streets. The latter job entails sweeping, mopping and cleaning toilets. Beers emphasizes that Brüka is far from a one-man project and that the company owes its success to a number of people as eager to pick up a mop as bask in the spotlight.
“We have our own little industry here,” he says. “We’re a group of like-minded artists who have come together to create and share the experience of innovative theater. It’s not L.A., and we don’t want it to be.”
One of Beers’ goals is to help new artists develop their talents, particularly if they share his fierce dedication.
“A lot of people want to ‘do theater,'" he says. "It sounds so grandiose, but like anything worthwhile, it’s hard work. You may have to clean toilets. But if you have an idea, and you’re willing to stick to it, you can create art."