[repost] Women Authoring Change – The Zig Zag Festival

The following post is something I wrote for Hedgebrook, to promote my summer show at Annex Theatre, The Zig Zag Festival. I’m taking the opportunity to repost it here, for posterity.

“Women authoring change.” 

Women are the driving force behind a lot of what I do, during my day job and in theatre. I see women promoting the ideas, laying the groundwork for what’s to come, and making the decisions, especially at my artistic home, Annex Theatre.

Annex Theatre has become a place for women to author change in Seattle. For nearly 30 years, Annex has continued to produce bold new work while maintaining deep traditions of operating in a unique anarcho-democratic structure. In recent years, Annex has received Gregory Awards in the Theatre of the Year (2013) and Best New Play (Undo and Black Like Us) categories. When we were Theatre of the Year, our Artistic Director Pamala Mijatov spoke on our behalf. And the following year, we had the opportunity to watch Holly Arsenault (recipient for Undo) pass the torch to Rachel Atkins (recipient for Black Like Us), both women.

When we selected Holly Arsenault and Rachel Atkins’s plays, we were not focused on the fact that they were women. We were focused on how the stories moved us and how well they were told, which made us excited to produce their work. This was the same reason behind choosing The Zig Zag Festival, the project I’ve curated, performing August 4-19 at Annex. I was in the room when we selected Zig Zag. I had the opportunity to hear everyone’s opinions of and excitement for how I planned to bring together young and female artists to create entirely new plays on the Annex stage. We didn’t know who the artists would be, we didn’t know what the plays were. The Annex Company’s support was for creating as many opportunities for women as possible, which has become a strong reason behind why we choose any project.

Zig Zag brings together Courtney Meaker, Dayo Anderson, Seayoung Yim, L. Nicol Cabe, Amy Escobar, and myself as we write and direct six new plays. We have been gathering since February to discuss what is lacking onstage, our experiences directing and writing and seeing new work, processes that have worked for us or failed us the in the past, and our hopes and dreams for this project and beyond. We have bonded in ways I never imagined, and each and every woman involved is being challenged to push herself artistically. 

 “Annex has this badass reputation in Seattle for focusing on getting women on the stage, behind the stage, writing for the stage and directing on the stage.” – Dayo Anderson

Annex upholds this reputation because of the involvement of Courtney, Dayo, Seayoung, Nicol, and Amy; because Holly and Rachel came to us when they proposed their work to Annex; because women are authoring change in Seattle theatre. 

We have to be choose our projects with care, because we work side-by-side with our artists for 6 to 18 months to bring a proposal to full production. So we have to choose folks who are likable, show up, and will do the work.Year after year, women are showing up. They are showing up at our theatre to comprise the majority of our staff, they show up to auditions, and are hungry to act on our stages. Women propose projects they’ve written, that they want to direct, to design, to stage manage, to tech. Women are doing the work. And these women–on both sides of the selection process and rehearsal tables–are changing the stages of Seattle theatre.
I hope you will have the opportunity to experience a small piece of this change, on stage at Annex Theatre during The Zig Zag Festival. There are only 6 chances to do so, but I also hope to grow and expand this process in the future, using what I’ve learned this year. I’m excited to see what this project does to change the lives of the connected artists and the audiences who come to engage.

that time 2015 was already well underway… uh, now.

We are already deep into this year. Projects have been completed and new projects are already replacing them, my work schedule has been turned topsy-turvy and back right again, I’ve lost relationships and started new ones, and I still have yet to create a consistent routine because I don’t feel quite settled. It’s irrelevant if I’m settled or not though, because the year’s going to keep churning away whether I’m ready or not.

Last month, I had the opportunity to see The Lower Depths by Maxim Gorky, produced by Melissa Fenwick’s Theatre Machine. Theatre Machine is a newer company, and The Lower Depths was Fenwick’s second production. Although the production has been closed for a month now, the show itself and the discussions I had after seeing the play stuck with me for days and days. As I struggled to find a response, I was repeatedly struck with how much this production has made me think about theatre in new and complicated ways. I appreciate this opportunity to examine my own work and the work of others in Seattle theatre.

Despite my frustrations with the play, Melissa as adaptor, director, and producer was willing to speak with me about her choices with the production. Since seeing The Lower Depths, I’ve also seen other plays at semi-professional and fringe theatres and houses around town, as well as direct two short pieces for a new works play festival and start laying the ground work for a project I’m producing/directing/writing this summer. It’s left me thinking constantly about what choices other artists have made, and the choices I must make as director due to restrictions in terms of production, time, and actor energy and capability. We should always be proud of what we create, but at a certain point a process hits a wall and you have to stop and develop where you are. There is no longer room to keep adding or altering the piece as it is. Take a risk, make a decision, move on. It’s harsh and it’s scary, but without decision there are no accomplishments.

I asked Melissa three long questions about the overall tone of The Lower Depths, the role of women, and the use of modern music in the adaptation of a play written in 1902. The most important response I received from Melissa was what she intended to portray with the play:

 The cycle of poverty and the apathy towards those stuck inside of it; as well as an insensitivity to violence and tragedy.

The Lower Depths takes place in a halfway house with several characters constantly moving in and out, with a loose plot around the tragedy of a love triangle between the landlord’s wife, her sister, and a thief. Although that was the most interesting part to follow in the play—and my modern sensibilities latched onto the plot only to be disappointed by the play’s lack of structure around it—it is ultimately about catching a glimpse into these characters’ lives who we do not pay attention to much at all in our everyday lives because we dismiss them as people who live on the street and are not making much out of their existence.

But that’s what we want out of our modern theatre! I am constantly hearing from my fellow theatre artists that they want to see new plays about underrepresented characters and situations, because our art should reflect our lives and experiences. That seems contradictory: a play was significant to me because it portrayed elements we are insensitive to while the common desire I hear is to make art about what we see every day, but it is actually one and the same. What we are insensitive to is what we experience everyday, so it doesn’t always occur to everyone to use it in our art. Is everyone around you a rich, white, and male? Then why would that character’s story dominate our art? We are surrounded by people of different shapes, sizes, backgrounds, colors, etc. so we can include what we see every day on our stage. Art can open our eyes, enhancing our perspective using detailed storytelling, portraying universal themes, and giving voice to characters who are not heard as often. 

The Lower Depths is an attempt at art reflecting life, using that reflection to imbue a dismissed part of life with importance. Although the production itself did not stir me emotionally, it certainly reminded me of why I love theatre. Melissa transformed the Satori space at INScape by creating an environment of large sheets to make the maze of a halfway house (reminding me of a large co-op house I visited 8 years ago in Madison, WI); she brought together a large cast of actors and musicians to bring their talents and insights to a project she’d been working on for years (an admirable feat); and she highlighted an older Russian playwright to show that his themes are still relevant over 100 years later.

I am inspired. It inspires me to look at art with an open heart despite criticisms I might have. I want to be intensely passionate aboutthe projects I create from start to finish, being a strong leader and engaging in trusting relationships exchanging ideas. I want to make sure that new stories are being heard, and that there are new opportunities to learn and share with audiences. Even though this year is already moving at a breakneck pace, I am excited for the many projects I have in the works for 2015, so stay tuned.

Thoughts on Seattle’s FOUR STORY HOUSE

10868099_10203733733045392_688664899724158240_n From the Facebook event: FOUR STORY HOUSE is a site-specific event exploding the reality of human privacy & toying with discovery of the unknown in a familiar space.

I had the opportunity and honor to be one of the few people in the city of Seattle to experience this show last Friday night, on a rainy night in early January. The premise was simple but oh, so dense. The director and creator, Antoinette Bianco, was curious about how we create when we cut ourselves off from the rest of the world, specifically in our own home from our roommates. She commissioned three other playwrights–Spike Friedman, John Leith, and Maddie Downes–to create short plays featuring 1-3 actors to be set in the intimate spaces of the producers’ actual home in the Central District.

It was a beautiful way to start my year in theatre! Each piece was intimate and special and isolating. The logistics of the performances were handled by guides, who hand-selected small groups of audience members waiting in the living room to see each play in a different order and with different showgoing partners. I took little notice of who was in each group, because I spent my precious moments taking in the design of each room–nearly every scene was filled with deliberate junk–then being mesmerized by the actors. They all had to share a story that they were heavily mired in that the audience had to perceive through the fog of mystery.

The playwrights worked with the prompt to “consider the private spaces we inhabit within the walls of a house & the space of our minds,” crafting four distinct stories tied together thematically with ghosts, memories, and eyes toward the past or future but not the present. Characters overlapped times and sometimes didn’t interact with each other, until they intimately collided. It seemed like every audience member I heard speak afterward had a different idea of what happened in every play, and I certainly hold my own ideas about the significance of certain lines and props and such.

Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed the production. The space was warm and welcoming and intimate, much like a good ol’ fashioned house party with some theatre instead of a house band. I struggled with not being able to have my own personal space to process before and in between and after each play. I knew a lot of people who came to see the show, so I was meeting social expectations of having small talk with friends while simultaneously trying to process each play in my mind. Of course, the advantage to being tossed back into the holding area with all sorts of people who were either also in the middle of their own experience or hadn’t even started yet was that everyone had an opportunity to share new information with each other.

For such an ambitious production, I would say it was immensely successful.

Slip/Shot at Seattle Public Theater

Earlier this weekend, I had the opportunity to see Slip/Shot by Jackie Goldfinger at Seattle Public Theater, directed by Kelly Kitchens. They have a short run (only one more weekend). I definitely think you should go see this play, but not because I liked it.

I did not enjoy this production as much as I wanted to. I found the script insufficient and the characters underdeveloped. I wanted more detail, from the very beginning, and although Kitchens and the design team and SPT tried to fill in as much as they could, it was not enough for me. But the script that was lacking, not the production itself. You should see this play and attend a well-done production with difficult subject matter told in a poignant and visceral manner.

Kelly Kitchens is a fantastic director. I’ve seen three of her plays so far this year (the other two were Arcadia and Black Comedy) and in each one, she wields unmatched skill in choreographing and articulating all of the bodies onstage when they all need to be in distinct times and spaces from each other. She is a clear storyteller, I just believe the story in Slip/Shot is not clearly expressed as a play, and it is one that needs to be told.

Early in the play, after we’ve met all of the characters, a young white security guard named Clem (Quinn Armstrong) accidentally shoots a young black man named Monroe (Treavor Boykin). It is 1963 in Tallahassee, so the fallout and consequences of Clem’s actions drive the story for the rest of the play. But I struggled with the minimal development of Monroe’s girlfriend and his mother as characters, because the outcome of their story is made clear early on. Yes, we learn about their past and their anxieties for the future, but their resolution is obvious from the beginning, so we are left waiting for them to come to the solution we’ve seen all along. What if they were more at odds throughout the play and not just at the beginning? What if they had to struggle harder to find their commonality, more than the built-in one of Monroe himself?

On the other side, Clem’s fate and that of his wife is more murky, and the playwright devotes a lot of time to figure out where they will end up. Their resolution is satisfying in its own way, but it left me wondering what the play is really about. Is it actually about a white man’s guilt for committing an accidental murder? Why can’t we watch a play about a mother losing her only son and the promise that he held instead? [Sidebar: I overheard someone in the bathroom later wondering “what was with all the books” and if the play was “about black literature, that wasn’t made clear.”]

That’s why I wanted more. As theatre artists, we have an opportunity for a (nearly) equally bi-racial cast but one character is under-utilized and the others aren’t given enough time to develop. [Sidebar: don’t have TWO white-guy emissaries. Combine them into one character. Please.] Each scene was so short, and ended so neatly, I found myself wondering during every scene change if all of my questions had been answered. Often, they were not. But each time, I’d be newly impressed by the quality of the lighting and sound design and how deftly and sweetly Kitchens had staged everyone.

After the play finished, I wondered what could be if Goldfinger had restructured the play entirely. What if she had begun the play with Monroe and his mother instead of Clem and his wife? What if she had established more of what life was like in Tallahassee in 1963 for these characters before completely turning their lives upside-down? What if she had employed flashbacks in order to utilize the actor playing Monroe more onstage? Would she have not felt the need to devote as much stage time to Clem and his wife’s waiting for their fate to be decided?

On the Seattle Public website, there is a lovely interview with one of the actors, Faith Russell. To her, the play is about “what we have in common and what unites us.” I do believe Goldfinger made a valiant attempt at showing the commonalities between families and the trials these families have onstage. She unites and parallels the two worlds onstage by exploring the concept of “moving forward,” since we are forced to by the nature of time. But as a work of theatre, we must stay in the difficult subject matter a little longer before we move forward, to make people truly think about a topic they’d much rather avoid.

Value and experience this production because everyone should have the opportunity to think about race in a part of America removed from us, in order to remind of us the realities in other parts of our country. See this show because the theatrical qualities are done well and the acting is good, all around. But we can do more. We need more plays like this, that go deeper and explore the potential tragedy and how we as human beings can continue to live, with an eye looking onto the past and a foot stepping toward the future.

Slip/Shot at Seattle Public Theater has four more performances on Thursday 10/9, Friday 10/10, and Saturday 10/11 at 8 p.m. and Sunday 10/12 at 2 p.m.

Its summertime, but the livin’ ain’t easy

This entry has been sitting in my drafts since early August. I’ve attempted to write it by thinking about it nearly every day since then, but have barely had the time to sit down and physically write it out.

I started a new job in mid-June that has completely turned my life around. Life is difficult, but this job is worth it and what I need right now. But this website is about my theatrical exploits, so I suppose I should update you on those instead.

Choosing Annex’s 2015 Season

In June we chose our season for 2015 at Annex. It was an arduous and exciting and dramatic process which I love more each year. I had two projects up for consideration, and one was chosen. By the end of the day, we had selected 7 out of 8 projects so we spent the next week deciding on the missing slot. We will be announcing our entire season as soon as I complete the draft of the season announcement.

Spin the Bottle

My biggest news is that starting in 2015, I will produce Spin the Bottle. For 17 years, Bret Fetzer has been producing and curating this monthly cabaret. I am overjoyed to take it over.

There was an article written up in the Capitol Hill Seattle Blog about the history of Spin the Bottle and the legacy Bret leaves behind. I have lots of thoughts about curating and hope to maintain many traditions while introducing some of my own. Please read the article and share it with others! I’ll be excited to share my first curation in January 2015.

1448 Outdoors

For this, I was band liaison on the second day of the first weekend in mid-August. It was fun. Apparently I brought some tactics to liaising that the Friday person did not, but that people on the following week did. Success! (I think they came up with the tactics on their own, though.) I got to hang out in the sunshine with a bunch of cool people, making sure they were able to hear the songs they would sing snippets of that night (lots of searching for YouTube videos and lyrics) and that they were tracking all of their ideas. I created and printed show sheets, which were a big hit.

In general, I had a great time. It was an exhausting day though, and didn’t allow me to enjoy the theatre I had supported making that day. By the time we got to the performances, I was so tired I didn’t pay attention as much as I would have liked to. The outdoor setting also made it difficult to hear. However, I loved volunteering for the festival and would love to participate again in the festival. It’s a loving and encouraging environment.

Gregory Awards Nominator (shh)

I am a Gregory Awards Nominator for the 2014-2015 season. Starting in August every year, Theatre Puget Sound sends out theatre makers and lovers around Seattle and the surrounding areas to gather feedback about locally produced shows. I get free tickets to productions then I rate them for the moderator. I am also not allowed to write about any of the productions anywhere, which is unfortunate. It means I will continue to seek out shows that are not a part of the nomination process because I want to keep writing here. (Check out my breakdown of John Roderick’s Rendezvous from Tuesday!)

I’m involved with several other projects, including:

Blood Countess (written by Kelleen Conway Blanchard and directed by Bret Fetzer–I’m assistant directing

Zapoi! written by Quinn Armstrong and directed by Kaytlin McIntyre–I’m dramaturging

Horse Girls written by Jenny Rachel Weiner and directed by Norah Elges (opens October 28)–I’m production managing

And some other new works opportunities I’m excited and scared about.

Stay tuned!

John Roderick’s Rendezvous

Tuesday night, I attended John Roderick’s Rendezvous, which was a treat and a blast. I had been planning to attend since the first announcement, but was not able to until a couple weeks into the second “semester.” But what is John Roderick’s Rendezvous? The Rendezvous is a Belltown bar and theatre space in Seattle (currently under ownership transition). John Roderick is a singer/songwriter/philosopher/historian/opinion-haver/gentleman who has decided to produce his own program there on a semi-weekly basis. Roderick’s Rendezvous is the perfect platform for Mr. Roderick to perform as he prefers.

The structure of the show is simple: the stage is set to Mr. Roderick’s design, the audience is allowed in a half-hour before the show time to choose their seats and check in with each other (“Have you been to the show before? Who else has he had on?”), an assistant makes announcements and gives an introduction, Mr. Roderick enters and speaks for about ten-minutes, he introduces his guest for the evening, he interviews the guest about their profession and other interesting topics, they speak about their sartorial choices, have a Q + A with the audience, and then they close with a geography question from a regular audience member. No music, some philosophy, and lots of conversation.

Mr. Roderick conversed last night with a long-time friend of his, Tina Meadows, who was there to exemplify citizenship. (It appears that every show has a loose “theme” that Mr. Roderick uses to inspire his initial speech, chosen guest, and interview questions.) Mr. Roderick pointed out that when he and Ms. Meadows met, they had been “occupying the same space for some time” but had only just met then. They should have known each other, but did not, and once they did, it was if they’d known each other forever. I have had this type of encounter before in Seattle, and I find it simultaneously unnerving and comforting. You soon realize that although you wish you had known this person before the moment of meeting, that you met when it was time to meet. The meeting is synchronous in a beautiful way.

Speaking on being a citizen in society and its implications, Mr. Roderick emphasized “coercive citizenship,” which is often a failure. For those who like to live against the grain, being forced into a method of living is ineffective. But being coerced is a proven method that allows the free-thinking individual to arrive at his own conclusions, in the end emphasizing the overall benefits to society. Not to say that one person who doesn’t fall in line will ruin it for the rest of us, but that an attempt to live independently isn’t always the best way to live. He used a specific example of having his driver’s license taken as punishment for returning a UW canoe back late. Although he was able to function in local society without a driver’s license, after some time it became blatantly obvious that he would have to have a photo identification in order to continue to participate in society: specifically the society of friendship.

Annex Theatre survives with participative citizenship. With every meeting, we emphasize that the people in the room are the people who will make the decisions and that everyone is there of their own volition. There is no need to have requirements of anybody (requirements are not the same as expectations) because to ask that of a volunteer will result in no participation at all. Because Annex is an “anarcho-democratic collective,” we are in a way a micro example of society as Mr. Roderick illustrated it. Most of the time we all obey traffic laws and queue in a line because we are told that if we do not, there will be severe consequences, but Mr. Roderick pointed out that “once upon a time” those who lived outside of society (Daniel Boone being the example) did not live outside the law. Now there is no room to live “outside of the law” because as people have spread out within the finite space (specifically the United States of America) the government has had to spread out too.

As Ms. Meadows came out, I continued to think about Mr. Roderick’s point about citizenship and choosing/being forced to participate. As we got to know the guest, we learned that Ms. Meadows has always chosen to participate on whatever path was given to her, enabling her to become a successful electrical engineer who has helmed some impressive projects. They also spoke about Charles Krafft, a local artist who has recently been dismissed because he is a Holocaust denier and who apparently has a secret society that Mr. Roderick joined a number of years ago.

As a theatre experience goes, it nearly isn’t, except that the two people onstage are certainly performing as we all do in front of others. On his podcast, Roderick on the Line, he is gruff and long-winded and paternal. In person he is gregarious and affectionate. Onstage he is also generous but sharp and sparkling, knowing that others are bathing in his magnificence. Although he draws other people of high intellect into his orbits, the audience was rapt with attention. Very few people spoke back to him, and when people became excited about correcting him, he was already three steps ahead of them: catching his mistake, knowing others would correct him, and urging them not to (zppt!). We all put on airs to participate, we all get up and put on our clothes, ride the bus, standing when we’re told to, and we know that following the rules allows us to remain free while improving the existence of those around us. But what happens when we’re no longer free?

The room at the Rendezvous in the Jewelbox Theatre is a sacred space for (in the month of September) weekly meetings where we can join Mr. Roderick as citizens who know that we are there for the betterment of all. See John Roderick’s Rendezvous for yourself; tickets are only $10.

performance notes

  • The vulnerability of Mr. Roderick and his guest in such an intimate setting was overwhelmingly comforting and I look forward to finding dates to attend as autumn and winter come because it feels much more like a winter show.
  • The set looked amazing: a podium (lectern) made of salvaged wood, two green-yellow leather mid-century modern chairs, and a centerpiece of wilting beet greens and an artichoke in a mason jar.
  • If continuing to use the podium, I suggest moving the microphone in front of it, since Mr. Roderick has a wide wingspan and gestures while speaking.
  • In the interview, Ms. Meadows asked who else had been on the show, and Mr. Roderick realized that everyone was one of his friends, so it had all been white people around the age of 45. Suggestions for non-white interviewees: Valerie Curtis-Newton, Kathy Hsieh, Bob Williams, Ansel Herz (these are all people I’d be interested in learning more about from Mr. Roderick’s perspective).
  • Having people on the show who are not intimately connected with Mr. Roderick will enable the guest to have more needs to speak, and Mr. Roderick to listen.

Also, this happened!


Theatrical Impression: Terre Haute by Bridges Stage Company at ACT Theatre

Terre Haute is not my type of play. Two men sitting in a room just talking can intrigue me from time to time, but for me it works if there is banter, humor, and familiarity.  In Terre Haute–the fictional meeting between Gore Vidal and Timothy McVeigh in the days before McVeigh’s execution–a familiarity grows between the two men that left me not knowing how to feel about the subject matter and the play itself. We can never know anything for sure, hence the effectiveness of terrorism, but I left the theatre sure that whatever my issues with the subject matter of the play, it was well-produced.

I think I was around 8 when McVeigh bombed the federal building in Oklahoma City. I don’t remember much about it, except that my classmates and I were taught what to do in the event of a bomb scare. Crouching down under our desks became included in our repertoire along with filing quietly single file into the windowless hallways in the event of a tornado. But being in southern Missouri, we were close to the events. I’m sure I knew people who were connected in some way, but growing up, I never knew the reasons behind McVeigh’s terrorism. As I came of age, there was the Columbine School shooting, September 11th 2001, and I just didn’t focus on the reasons why.

So Terre Haute was enlightening to say the least. Edmund White, the playwright, only changes the names of the characters from the people he based the play on. The location, the details of McVeigh’s bomb, all of it is pulled directly from true events, but the names are changed. I can guess as to why, and know that it didn’t matter, because we all knew whose story we were watching.

Well, at first the story was clear to me. As the play progressed, it became more about the attraction of the older man to the younger, and during the talkback following, I came up with a possible reason why. The playwright wrote the play for a young man he had a crush on, who happened to look like Timothy McVeigh. The piece apparently was a vehicle for this look-alike performer to act. While I don’t doubt there could have been a taboo physical/mental/sensual/emotional attraction between the two men had they ever met in real life, letting it become the focal point of the play made me wonder why choose the backdrop of such a real and powerful event?

I suppose there are arguments for and against: use the true events of the Oklahoma City bombing and audiences have something to grasp onto and comprehend the relationship against. Create other events and the events become circumspect and put under scrutiny, instead of maintaining focus on the exchange between the two men.

Regardless, the final image of the play–the one Robert Bergin said made him want to perform the role–fell flat for me. The talkback that followed only served to frustrate me as the topic strayed from what could have been effective discussion (common for talkbacks) and it turned into a lot of speculation. What if there had been no daycare center at the federal building? Would McVeigh have been considered a revolutionary hero, taking a stand against his government?

I abhor murder and terror and war and the military and guns vehemently, so I would argue “no, not in the slightest, he still murdered hundreds of innocent people” but perhaps you have a different opinion. Seeing this play will make you think. You may think about what is terror, will we ever know the consequences of our government’s actions, where you may have been when Timothy McVeigh bombed the Murrah building in Oklahoma City.

If that intrigues you, go. Terre Haute runs until June 15 with the Central Heating Lab at ACT Theatre, produced by Bridges Stage Company.

Theatrical Impression: Arcadia at Seattle Public Theater

Sex and literature and science and death and paper trails, does any of it matter?

A week ago, a friend of mine from college passed away unexpectedly. He was a poet. He wrote absurd and hilarious haikus alongside immensely deep creative original postmodern works and translations. He was genius, taken too early from this world. Facebook allows you to memorialize a user’s page now, and friends of the deceased can post memories and photos, etc. On this person’s page, people are posting his poetry. I posted a photograph of an autographed piece I’m lucky to have: a photocopied page out of his notebook that says ‘Bonnie and Clyde’ on the left face and ‘Amerika’ on the right face, each repeated fifteen times. A friend of mine called it a “treasure,” and it is. Everything he left behind is now a treasure, a paper trail for us to follow again and again and find new meanings in.

Seeing Arcadia at Seattle Public Theater (soon to be renovated, donate here) Thursday night hit me in a special way. As I walked home, I began to put together the parallel. In the circumstances of the play and the mystery surrounding my friend’s passing, only paper remains.

Continue reading “Theatrical Impression: Arcadia at Seattle Public Theater”

Theatrical Impression: April into May Round-Up

I suck.

I have been seeing plays since the end of March (it’s now mid-May!?!) and have just not been writing about them.


I produced some of the shows. or I saw them at the end of a run. and I saw one not in St. Paul, MN. also, I’ve been dating. and I’ve been putting together my proposals for Annex. but mostly, I suck.

Writing is a good practice. In 2014, I have not been writing as much as I would like. Every few weeks I try to start a practice of writing every day, but I don’t do it. Dissatisfaction in other areas of my life has led me to come up with a whole list of excuses, and none are valid. So here, today, now, I’m going to write a round-up. A quick, little-detailed summary of all of the shows I saw since the end of March. Here we go.

The Importance of Being Earnest at Seattle Shakespeare

This play was fun. The casting was delightful–especially having married couple Connor Toms and Hana Lass in kitty corner roles of Cecily and Jack–and the actors had a great gasp on the language. Quinn Franzen was certainly my favorite for the role of Algernon. The set was lovely, and the costumes were a treat to see. Overall, it was pure candy. I also may have laughed too hard, causing an older gentleman in front of me to turn around a few times as I snorted at the genius of Oscar Wilde.

I curated the April Edition of Spin the Bottle at Annex

I had a great time! And what an honor to produce an evening of my favorite monthly late-night cabaret that happens on every first Friday of the month (next up, June 6 by Scotto Moore!). I got to put together my perfect list of people to participate, then deal with cancellations, special requests, and schedule rearrangements up to the last minute. It was all worth it. We had a good showing house, thankfully. One group had 11 people in it, which always boosts attendance. The night was packed, and very theatre-heavy. I also had a lot of boys, apparently, from all-male speed-dating improv, male smut, a male host, male musicians, poetry and plays by male-identified people… overall a very masculine and telling night of my preferences: men and words.

Moisture Festival at Hale’s Palladium

A friend of mine gave me a free ticket to this show, and to the late night one at 10:30 pm. Unfortunately, I had worked an early day on Friday, then had a late night with Spin the Bottle before, worked again, and had to be up at 6:30 on Sunday morning for work… plus I was getting to sick. Unfortunately, I had to leave after intermission. I got to see a magician, an aerialist, and more. It seemed like a charged evening of comedy, classic and raunchy and new, and I look forward to going next year.

Moby Alpha by Charles at Ballard Underground

Oh yeah, I saw the shit out of this show. And I wrote about it. But apparently my post never posted because I was trying to type it on my iPad while at work, with no internet access. I’ll have to find it later and post it.

Behind the Eye at Park Square Theatre in St. Paul, MN

This play was pretty great. Weird, but great. I was visiting a friend, and she took me to the theatre where she used to work box office. It reminded me of Taproot Theatre in Seattle: small and elegant and clean space, not fringe-y, but not a big repertory house. Park Square Theatre does new and old plays, and Behind the Eye was pretty recently developed. The topic was great–a Vogue model turned WWII photographer deals comes to terms with the end of her life–but I found the style of the play tedious and difficult to follow. There was no intermission, and was, in essence, a one-woman show. There were other characters, and other actors, but the other actors had minimal parts. I wonder what it would have been like to have the sole actress play all of the parts? Some sexual-tension moments would have been lost, but not much else besides. It would have also supported the idea that this woman was entirely self-obssessed, neglecting her two husbands and child just in pursuit of the perfect photograph. As the sole performer, we would have seen her on focus: herself.

Chaos Theory at Annex Theatre, PWYC Industry Night

Yes, I was working. Yes, I produced this show. But, it is great. You have 3 more nights left to see Courtney Meaker’s latest foray into comedic/dark writing and Keiko Green’s fierce, fierce performance. GO.

King Lear at Seattle Shakespeare Company

I was going to write about this play last week. Really, truly, I was. But by Monday as I was recovering from a crazy weekend of work and play, I thought, what’s the point? Lear is one of my favorite Shakespeare plays, and it is close to my heart. But this production didn’t make me feel anything. I had very few visceral reactions, even to a gun being pulled out onstage. I didn’t feel so far away from the stage, even being in the last row, but nothing from the actors reached out and grabbed me. The play overall was not very interesting to watch, and Amy Thone–as much as I love, admire, and respect her and her craft–was barely audible and therefore a sucking void onstage. Perhaps it was the Sunday matinee performance, the weird weather and exhaustion of doing a full weekend run. Who knows? But the actor playing Lear was good and some of the costumes worked, in a weird way. Except for Regan’s. Her costume was a bizarre jersey-knit that rode up in what looked like an uncomfortable way. Overall, meh.

Gone Wild: A Savage Romp Through the Animal Kingdom at Annex

Oh, my god. I also helped produce this show, but I wish I had posted this before they closed because this show was amazing. The Libertinis are a neo-burlesque performance group, but also some of the most courteous, friendly, just-plain-excited-to-be-alive-and-making-art-artists I’ve ever had the pleasure of encountering. Super crazysexycool show.

One-Minute Play Festival at ACT Theatre

Again, a meh. I didn’t have high expectations, after speaking with several of the artists involved. Every year, twice a year, 1448 Projects does a similar and better thing, so I also knew 1MPF could not achieve similar production values. However, some of the plays were well-written, others were well-directed, and I had a great night. I’d be interested to see if this production is done again in Seattle, and what it will look like then.

Shows I missed because of work, exhaustion, other plans, etc.:

Tails of Wasps by New Century Theatre Company
Seattle Vice by Mark Siano and Opal Peachey
Attempts on her Life by The Horse in Motion
Impenetrable by SIS Productions
Quickies by Live Girls! Theater
Baron Samedi at On the Boards

What have you been seeing this spring? And what are you excited about seeing this summer? I’d love to hear.

Theatrical Impression: Gidion’s Knot at Seattle Public Theater

My neighborhood theatre with the best view – Seattle Public Theater at the bathhouse on Green Lake – is producing Gidion’s Knot by Johnna Adams. This play has thrown me and my perceptions for a loop this past week, and I *love* it. Regardless of what I perceived was wrong about the script or whatever, I think it’s important for Seattle audiences to see this play. Rebecca Olson (the teacher) and Heather Hawkins (simply amazing as the mother) landed a fantastic opening night and the play runs for three more weekends. But even a terrific acting performance can skew my perceptions of a script that is convoluted and confusing at times.

Strong, Immersive Staging

First off, the staging and set design were fantastic. See this play and sit right up close to get the experience. It’s worth it. I was sitting right next to the only entrance, behind the teacher’s desk. I felt like a fly on the wall, like I was actually in the 5th grade classroom and able to observe the scene between Gidion’s mother and teacher as they discussed Gidion’s fate and untimely demise.

Being immersed in the staging meant I not only had to be an accountable audience member (tuck my legs in, look attentive), but it also meant that when the mother would speak to the teacher, it was like she was speaking directly to me. I was also close to the impeccable set dressings. Ashley Banker (props designer) made exquisite posters about mythology and put other detailed touches on the set that were a fun visual game to look at.

Also, the staging was well done. I was sitting in what could have been considered a very bad seat, and it just wasn’t. Both actresses were aware of their sight lines, staying visible as they warred from separate sides of the classroom. The shape of the stage Seattle Public allows the producers play with traditional theatre in a non-traditional way. Doing a play that could very well be done in a proscenium stage in a nearly three-quarter set-up was a strong choice and served the play well. I like the contrast between the hyper-realism of being in a classroom and the hyper-awareness that we are all here, watching a play.

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