Two weekends of new work | Writers Group showcase at Seattle Rep June 12-21

It’s kind of the Seattle equivalent of JAW.

Two weekends of new play readings.

Two weekends in June at Seattle Rep.

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Fourth Annual Writers Group Showcase

@seattlerep

June 12-14 and June 19-21, 2015

Friday, June 12, 7:30 p.m. – Margarita Stands
by Lisa Halpern, directed by Victor Pappas
Margarita is a successful inventor and kitchen table activist, but something lurks under the surface of her excellent life that threatens her from living fully. Try as she might, she just can’t face her fears and open the door to her desired future.

Saturday, June 13, 4:00 p.m. – City of Presidents
by Brendan Healy, directed by Braden Abraham
For the employees and owners of the Monuments Motel in Rapid City, South Dakota, the off-season has lasted years. Friendships, marriages and bank accounts feel the strain in this dark comedy featuring the motel employees, their guests, and of course the four presidents on Mt. Rushmore.

Saturday, June 13, 7:30 p.m. – Bicycle Noir – a love story on wheels
by Bryan Willis, directed by David Nail
Claims Adjuster Lou Perkins and her Guy Wednesday have a murder to solve and claims to adjust. All clues lead to homme fatale, the Fabulous Harold Ash…who just happens to be the love of Lou’s life. Bryan Willis’ new play is full of film noir flavor with a local twist.

Sunday, June 14, 4:00 p.m. – Roz and Ray*
by Karen Hartman, directed by Rosa Joshi
San Diego, 1980s. Ray is a single dad of two hemophiliac boys. Their doctor, Roz, is saving his sons—until she’s not. Karen Hartman pens a love story about the healers and the healed.

Friday, June 19, 7:30 p.m. – Made of These
by Courtney Meaker, directed by Emily Penick
Even Mo and Nadya can’t escape the seven year itch. With Mo’s birthday approaching, Nadya concocts a magical dreamscape of a party to celebrate, but when dreams and reality collide it just might signal the end of their longtime partnership.

Saturday, June 20, 4:00 p.m. – Wolf in the Winter Palace
by Arlitia Jones, directed by Braden Abraham War and winter are at the door, and the world’s greatest museum stands empty. It’s up to one extraordinary hero to protect its treasures and save humanity.

Saturday, June 20, 7:30 p.m. – Mosquito
by Josh Beerman, directed by Sheila Daniels
Summer in the city and the living isn’t easy. Can Penelope and Owen survive another sleepless night confronted with secrets, half-truths and a restless daughter? Writer Josh Beerman’s dialogue explores the questions we ask ourselves when we have no place to turn.

Sunday, June 21, 4:00 p.m. – The Manor
by Holly Arsenault, directed by Erin Kraft
At Pleasant Springs Manor Nursing Home, Gil Fleischman, the only male resident, stays busy keeping the beds of his female co-residents warm. But questions of consent become tricky with the arrival of new aid, and trickier still when Gil begins to lose his memory.

All in the timing | 2016 Presidential election offers once in a lifetime playwriting opportunity

So – you’re a playwright. That’s what your signature line says anyway. You’ve had some success, but breaking into the big leagues is proving tough. The financial and career screws are tightening down, and your ship is approaching that ever perilous passageway between the Scylla and Charybdis of children’s theatre on the one hand and academia on the other. And lo – getting through there looks even narrower than you expected.

What you really want to do though is write real plays, big plays that engage with the larger society on the most important issues of the day. Plays that offer an intelligent, sophisticated audience plenty to think about. Plays that even the President of the United States will want to come see because they speak directly to her.

So what’s it gonna be? Keep doing those stories about talking rugs and time travel to Antarctica, omniscient genius kids and blue-streak swearing gutsy seniors? Keep signing petitions about how nefarious conspiracies are secretly organizing to keep you off the world stage?

Or – start creating dialogue that the audience is hungry for, is ready for. Start creating the plays America cannot live without. Plays that change the audience – and the world.

For any American playwright (and especially if you’re a woman) looking for that once in a lifetime breakout opportunity, it’s headed your way in the fall of 2016. Which is just about enough time to get a play written.

Continue reading “All in the timing | 2016 Presidential election offers once in a lifetime playwriting opportunity”

HOW TO STOP DYING by Noah Dunham at Action/Adventure opens May 7

Next up from the fun machine on SE Clinton, aka, Action/Adventure.

HOW TO STOP DYING

Written and Directed by Noah Dunham

May 7-30

Thurs – Sat at 8 PM

How to Stop Dying is a play in two acts. An ensemble driven comedy that explores the themes of death, loss, immortality, and paranormal activity. The project has been in development since October 2014 as Noah Dunham and his cast worked together to research themes, build story lines, and develop characters. What has come out of a five month devising & workshopping process is the story of a cynical Executive Producer (Sarah) whose recent loss of her father has led her and her Ghost Hunting reality show into the deep back country of eastern Oregon. Their reasoning? A recent submission from the owner of a funeral services company (Franklin Pine), who claims to have caught a real ghost on camera. A ghost that greatly resembles Sarah’s recently deceased father. Needless to say, this funeral home might be up to more than just burying the recently passed in rural Oregon.

Movement, music, and contemporary musings on the themes of death and loss will take center stage in this energetic and irreverent production that will have it’s World Premiere at Action/Adventure.

Starring: Nicole Accuardi, Katie Behrens, Matthew Dieckman, Jade Hobbs, James Luster, Gerrin Mitchell, and Evan Ward.

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Enda Walsh + David Bowie + Ivo van Hove = a little show you may want to catch at New York Theatre Workshop

What does exciting look like in the theatre today?

Like this.

Irish star playwright Enda Walsh is teaming up with David Bowie and director Ivo van Hove to create a new show called LAZARUS at New York Theatre Workshop.

Assuming the show opens at NYTW first, before going on to the now standard Walsh world tour (ONCE anyone?), it will be one of the hardest small space tickets in the 2015-16 NYC theatre season to get.

NYT
Guardian

“Following his revelatory production of Ingmar Bergman’s Scenes From a Marriage, the internationally acclaimed director Ivo van Hove returns to New York Theatre Workshop with a new production, LAZARUS by David Bowie and Enda Walsh. Mr. Walsh makes his return to NYTW after the successful run of Once. LAZARUS features songs specially composed for this production by Mr. Bowie as well as new arrangements of previously recorded songs. LAZARUS is inspired by the 1963 novel, The Man Who Fell to Earth by Walter Tevis, and centers on the character of Thomas Newton famously portrayed by Mr. Bowie in the 1976 screen adaptation directed by Nicolas Roeg.”

Just in time for the weekend | SHOWS FOR DAYS by Douglas Carter Beane at Lincoln Center starts June 6

This is exactly why we pay good money to have our very own TEWS (Theatre Early Warning System) in the garage. Because every now and then it tells you things you cannot afford to miss.

Like: One of the funniest men on earth is back. Back in the theater, that is.

Starting June 6, Douglas Carter Beane has a new play about his life in the theatre.

Location: Lincoln Center.

Yeah, I guess that’ll have to do if he can’t find a real venue…

“SHOWS FOR DAYS is playwright Douglas Carter Beane’s fond remembrance of his immersion into a life in the theater. The comedy is set in Reading, Pennsylvania in 1973, when 14-year old Car, the play’s narrator and the author’s alter-ego, is introduced to the world of theater through his local community theatre, the Prometheus Theatre, and its devoted cast and crew which is led by Irene, an indomitable force of nature whose life is dedicated to putting on productions she directs, designs and stars in.”

Miss this – and we might have to turn you over to ISIS. And bill you for travel expenses.

SHOWS FOR DAYS by Douglas Carter Beane

Lincoln Center – Newhouse Theater

Directed by Jerry Zaks

CAST

Patti LuPone (Irene)
Dales Soules( Sid)
Michael Urie (Car)

Some people have a way with words.  This is one of those people.  Douglas Carter Beane.
Some people have a way with words. This is one of those people. Douglas Carter Beane.

Theater Review | AIRLINE HIGHWAY by Lisa D’Amour at Steppenwolf

In deciding to photographically render the grand old, Tequila-soaked Hummingbird Motel and its residents in exquisite, grungy detail on stage (right down to the broken coke machine and abandoned car), Lisa D’Amour’s huge new play at Steppenwolf gets drawn into recreating a simulacrum of the reality we think we know – as opposed to creating something new and uniquely theatrical that we feel. The scale of Scott Pask’s delectable set, which is really the star here and significantly upstages the play text, puts the focus on look over substance, and atmosphere over real drama. In a quest for supposed authenticity, what gets lost is an actual experience. Perhaps better suited to film, AIRLINE HIGHWAY is a humorous, winding examination of the Hummingbird’s world on the day of a New Orleans style send off funeral for den mother Miss Ruby, but does not offer much new. Also, the pitfalls and perils of retailing lifestyles of the poor and unknown (at significant cost) to America’s elite theatre audience are very much in evidence.

3-stars

Up all night yet again.  The cast of AIRLINE HIGHWAY on Scott Pask's incredible set for the Hummingbird Motel.  Photo: Michael Brosilow.
Up all night yet again. The cast of AIRLINE HIGHWAY on Scott Pask’s incredible set for the Hummingbird Motel. Photo: Michael Brosilow.

For an example of how tricky the business of portraying the American “underclass” on today’s mainstream stage can be, you need look no further than the program for Steppenwolf’s production of AIRLINE HIGHWAY by Lisa D’Amour.

On the cover, there’s a clean image of three characters from the show in all their ragged fabulousness. The only text is the name of the play and theatre. Beautiful.

And then you turn the page.

The inside spread features, on the left, an ad from @properties, a Chicago real estate firm, with a svelte older woman in a stylish leopard print dress: “You show your style in many ways, not the least of which is your home. You deserve a broker who gets that; a broker who gets you.” Want to know more? Contact the Luxury Portfolio International division.

On the right, it’s a message from MB Financial Bank, offering help with your wealth management and capital markets needs: “When you work hard there are wonderful rewards. For some it’s the sound of applause, and for others it’s the satisfaction of a business well run.” Somewhat incongruously, the photo there is of an ethnically diverse bouquet of young actors on stage – likely not the core target market for the bank’s services.

Turn the page again.

Now you’re staring down a gleaming white aristo male model in black tie who could have stepped right out of THE GREAT GATSBY. If you need such an outfit – or lifestyle – simply head on over to Paul Stuart on Lasalle.

Flip a few more pages, and it’s an advert for Christie’s: “From fine arts to fine estates”. Presumably you have a taste for both, yes?

You get the picture.

It’s not necessarily a problem. It’s the way things are. The American theatre needs money, and these are the companies (and patrons) that have it. But in such an institutional setting, in front of audience members who may have strolled the 1/4 mile to Steppenwolf from their Viennese villas on N. Burling in Chicago’s beautiful .001%-er Lincoln Park neighborhood, the idea that any engaging or provocative treatment of the colorful down and out of New Orleans could be staged is a bit of a fantasy – the stuff of theatre.

Just keepin' it real with the folks down on N. Burling in Chicago's Lincoln Park neighborhood, a four minute walk from Steppenwolf.  That's a private home, not a museum.
Just keepin’ it real with the folks down on N. Burling in Chicago’s Lincoln Park neighborhood, a four minute walk from Steppenwolf. That’s a private home, not a museum.

Continue reading “Theater Review | AIRLINE HIGHWAY by Lisa D’Amour at Steppenwolf”

In a landscape of generic sameness, West Virginia’s Contemporary American Theater Festival is one of the most ambitious and inspiring theater organizations around

There must be some mistake. This can’t be right.

I just received the annual notice from Contemporary American Theatre Festival announcing their 2015 season. And what I see makes no sense. At all.

Perhaps the NSA’s monitoring program is messing with my emails and replacing the actual sent content with experimental text to see what the effect might be? Maybe it’s a prank from The Onion?

Surely I am just imagining that this could be the actual theatre season of an American festival, right?

No, apparently it’s real.

Continue reading “In a landscape of generic sameness, West Virginia’s Contemporary American Theater Festival is one of the most ambitious and inspiring theater organizations around”

The good news about bad plays: bad reviews | Uniform thumbs down on THE COMPARABLES at Seattle Rep shows critical function of reviewing alive and well

When it comes to writing bad plays, there are no barriers to entry. It’s an equal opportunity endeavor, and anyone with a laptop, tablet or smart phone can jump right in. An entire playwriting industrial complex with classes and instructors (many former playwright wannabes themselves) is standing by ready to help.

But where the sailing gets a little stiffer, where the company grows more select, is producing bad plays. When it comes to putting a full version of that idea about a singing tea kettle or flying bath tub or three cutthroat real estate saleswomen in front of a live audience, rarely does a bad play get the nod. In theory.

In theory, there is a gatekeeper function in place at theatres to protect audience members from bad plays. Gatekeepers are the performing arts equivalent of a bomb squad, and they fan out daily in flak jackets and helmets to poke and prod that stack of newly arrived envelopes or PDF’s down at the literary department. Are the contents friend or foe? Artistic directors and the higher ups watch through binoculars, safely outside of blast range, as staff and volunteers undertake this potentially lethal first encounter with a new play. If the experience proves survivable, the script may move up the feeding chain. If something blows up, the play gets filed.

Unfortunately, not all clear and present dangers are detected early enough in the process. Plays get passed around, they get a reading, they gain a certain momentum. They become interesting or desirable to theatres because of subjects they address (whether or not they effectively dramatize said subject) or demographics they tap. In short, obvious problems get missed. And then the next thing you know, holy mother of jaysus, there they are up on stage. And there you are sitting in the audience wondering why why why this play was ever selected for production.

Such is the case with THE COMPARABLES by Laura Schellhardt at Seattle Rep.

Continue reading “The good news about bad plays: bad reviews | Uniform thumbs down on THE COMPARABLES at Seattle Rep shows critical function of reviewing alive and well”

THE COMPARABLES by Laura Schellhardt at Seattle Rep

Remarkably bland. Like a bad TV show. We’re in the theatre, but there is not an ounce of theatricality in this story of stock characters from a mythical New York real estate elite. Instead of saying something – anything – that will last, play is as generic and disposable as corporate decor.

3.18.2015 The good news about bad plays: bad reviews | Uniform thumbs down on THE COMPARABLES at Seattle Rep shows critical function of reviewing alive and well