Most people probably wouldn’t feel comfortable directing a production of high school production of “Godspell,” only to turn around and whip up homemade chicken nuggets for 300, run a business and help your spouse run theirs.
But most people aren’t Scott Brusven — a man who defies the laws of energy with his kinetic pace and enthusiasm for all of the jobs he does — four of them, thank you very much. Brusven, 38, is not only artistic director for theatre at Oak Grove Lutheran School in Fargo, he’s head chef for Oak Grove’s North Campus, which houses sixth through 12th grades. When he’s done with his workday, he is the self-described, “Chief Executive Doer of All Things” for his wife’s boutique rental business. And, oh yeah, in his spare time he just happens to run the theatre company he founded a couple of years ago called IGNITE Theatre.
When Brusven, who grew up south of Fergus Falls, Minn. isn’t sitting in the director’s chair, donning the chef’s hat, crunching numbers for IGNITE or doing the heavy lifting for the boutique, he is husband to wife Carrie and father to two boys; Miles (12) and Simon (9). On the Minds of Moms managed to pin down Brusven for a few minutes to get his thoughts on his very busy life and what drives him to keep going.
You obviously wear a lot of hats; do you have a main job?
My main job is artistic director of theatre at Oak Grove Lutheran School. While most will say that title also means I am the technical director, sometimes the choreographer, often the graphic designer and, ultimately, the producer. All in all, I get to play. I wouldn’t change any of it. I am blessed to have been given the opportunity to grow and to craft a K-12 theatre program from the ground up. When I started there five years ago, we had 36 students involved in theatre. Since then we have cultivated shows for our elementary, middle school and high school students. This past season, before COVID hit our stages, we had almost 250 students active in the theatre arts. My biggest joy is watching them tell stories and find their own passion.
But you also took on the role of chef at the school. Are you a foodie?
Two years ago, I had an opportunity to work part time in the kitchen at Oak Grove. I love food. I have always been interested in cooking and was always intrigued by the idea of cooking for a lot of people all at once. When the opportunity came up at Oak Grove, Executive Chef Kelley Peterson wanted to change up school food. She wanted to make more and more food from scratch. It was this idea that made me say yes. From that moment on we’ve been making 300 meals a day, mostly from scratch. Yes, there are school food staples that still make it to the menu, but we are energized everyday knowing that we can feed the students and staff “Cool School Food” as we like to call it. As far as being a foodie goes, I like to have fun in the kitchen. Sometimes we try new things, sometimes the recipe changes each time we make it. All in all, we have a blast serving up good food that fills the stomach and the soul.
It sounds like you’re pretty busy, but you make time to help your wife with her business? Tell us about that.
Carrie is the owner and designer for Gathered Boutique Rentals in Moorhead. As a small business owner with a big dream, she set out to be the first to bring the idea of boutique rentals to the Fargo-Moorhead area eight years ago. It has been an incredible journey for us as a couple, and as a family, as the business continues to grow year after year. Watching Carrie live out her passion and dream has been an incredible experience.
It’s not all work, right? What do you do for fun as a family?
Our family loves to be outside. As often as we can, we will load up our car and find a state park to camp in. Each summer we try to go on one long trip. The summer before COVID we made the trip through the Badlands to Mount Rushmore. One of our favorite annual trips is to head deep into Voyageurs National Park in northern Minnesota. You get to reserve a camping spot on one of many islands and you can only get there by boat. We also love to play games and cards, visit our families, spend time at the lake at my parents’ home on Clitherall Lake, and every Friday we sit down for pizza and movie night.
You described your upbringing with a “tight and loving family.” What did you learn about parenting from your own parents?
My parents always led with love, compassion and support. I can count on one hand the number of times my dad raised his voice to me. So when he did I knew I was in trouble. They both led our family with respect and understanding. I learned the power of talking things out and how to work through struggles this way. They live their lives as a couple and as parents with mutual respect for one another and for us.
Are there times in raising your own kids where you think, "I sound just like my mom or dad?”
All the time.
How and when did you meet Carrie?
I met my wife Carrie the summer between my sophomore and junior year of college. Where we met always throws people for a loop. We met at Valleyfair in Shakopee, Minn.. She was a lifeguard and I was a ride supervisor for the WildThing. During the early weeks of the summer the lifeguards have to work rides until it was warm enough for the waterpark to open. So, Carrie was assigned to help out at the WildThing, and the rest was history. I was smitten pretty quickly after meeting her.
You said growing up you were involved in everything from sports, 4-H and the arts. Are your boys busy with activities?
Miles plays piano, the upright and electric bass, football and baseball, and loves reading and listening to audiobooks. Simon plays piano, loves to dance to any beat, plays football and baseball, and is a crafter and painter.
My boys also love theatre. They’ve been bitten by the bug! They come to see every show multiple times! Simon, my youngest, knows more lyrics to the musicals than I do. They also love to come help build the sets on Saturday mornings during our work calls and they’ve been in many musicals themselves.
What do you love about theater? What do children, including your own, get out of being in the arts?
I, for one, can’t imagine a life without theatre or art. I live it, I breathe it, I don’t sleep much because of it, and I am a passionate advocate for it. It is part of my DNA. So when I get to share my love for the arts with someone, I cherish it, I honor it, and I feel so blessed to be part of the creation of these stories.
Creative skills are one of the most important skills needed to be successful in any industry. Ultimately, children need imagination to grow, create, think and play. Theatre is the single most valuable place where kids can explore the endless possibilities of their imaginations and what they can do.
I have had the opportunity to use what I have been given to create each and every day. I get to stretch my overactive imagination, bring places to life and tell incredible, enchanting and powerful stories. I also get to be a teacher of humanity and empathy. I literally get to play every day.