Wednesday, September 22, 2010

From the Artistic Director: Mauritius

Each season I choose 4 plays. I read many, many scripts. Sometimes, a play will attack me, leaping off the page, demanding to be brought to life and told immediately. Sometimes I’ll read a play and fall in a slow-burning love, simmering with the play until I feel the zeitgeist and the season planning stars align. Sometimes I am a hunter, tracking plays with certain criteria through research and dogged pursuit.

Mauritius and I first hooked up like people at a loud party, mutually curious but distracted by other stories and events. I’d read a lot of Rebeck’s work, and while I always loved her style, craft, and rhythms, I wasn’t always compelled, and some of those earlier plays didn’t feel like a good match for you, the SPT audience. So Mauritius and I needed someone to throw us together on a real first date.

When Russ Banham started talking about Mauritius I was captivated. Russ spoke with passion and clarity of vision, and his energy launched me back to the play for a close read. I saw in a flash the exciting possibilities of the play - the mean streets, the desperation of the hustle. I saw what a great showcase Rebeck’s script is for our artists, and how well it would play in the intimacy of the Bathhouse. I reveled in the characters, in their pursuit of that one big score that would make them - what, exactly? Happy? Or just rich? I began to ask questions of myself - what would I risk, who would I con, and for how much money? (And were any of those old stamps laying around in my house....worth anything....?!)

Working on Mauritius has been a collaborative process from the beginning, and only grown more so over time. It’s terrific fun and a huge honor to see how this play - a delicious mixture of brilliant wordsmithing, high-stakes tension, smart plotting, and complex relationships - when put in the hands of such fine artists as Seattle Public is proud to boast, can create a suspenseful, entertaining, richly theatrical experience. I’m thrilled to share it all with you next week as we kick off our season.


Shana Bestock

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