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.

Enjoy!

Shana Bestock

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

From the Managing Director: Supporting local art

I love the Puget Sound theater community. I’ve been part of it in Seattle for over thirty years, since I graduated from a small liberal arts college here in Washington state. I’ve watched the community grow and expand from a few small theaters, each with their own specific identity, to a many-tiered ecology of Fringe, mid-level, corporate giant, and a few in between. Add into that the many and various improvisation companies, puppet companies, single-actor-show festivals, musicians-who-make-theater groups, actors-who-create-music groups, summer park show companies…the list goes on and on. I’ve seen strong artistic companies fail for lack of good administration. I’ve seen big wealthy companies do consistently poor theater and go on doing so because of strong administrative support.

The one thing that runs through the whole magilla is the audience. The Puget Sound theater community couldn’t have grown, changed, evolved in the way it has the last thirty years without the audience support. Seattle loves its theater. Seattle loves its actors, and by extension its directors, lighting technicians, stage managers, costumers, etc, etc. I suspect it even loves its arts administrators. I know I am proud of the community, of all the talented and mostly pretty nice people I know and have worked with over the years.

I do get frustrated, I will confess. I think that Seattle has an inferiority complex of a sort. Seattle seems to think that if something or someone comes from elsewhere, it must be better. If an athlete comes from another city, he must be better than our athletes. If one of our athletes becomes a star, why, she has to move on to another city’s team. I know a lot of that is economics, but whatever happened to team loyalty? (Thank goodness for Ichiro.) I watch some of the larger wealthier corporate theaters bring in actors from another city. They must be better than our city’s actors, they are living elsewhere: New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, San Francisco. The opposite flow is true: if an actor or director or technician is good, he or she moves to New York. Or San Francisco. Or whatever. Again, some of this is economics, but whatever happened to loyalty?

Maybe I’m na├»ve. But I would rather support a local theater worker than one who comes in for one show, gets a lot of press, and heads back to Chicago. Especially when they are a friend or a relative, since when I see the show I think that there are almost always three local theater community people who could have done the role as well or better.

I look with great hope toward the recent movement towards locally-grown food. Local food is fresher. Local food is a known quality. Buying local means keeping the money in the local economy. Perhaps it will spread to our theaters. Local actors are known. Local actors don’t need to be housed: they live here. Local actors spend their paychecks in the local economy. Loyalty.

And so the Puget Sound theater ecology keeps healthy.

-Keith Dahlgren, Managing Director

Friday, September 10, 2010

Season Sneak Peek

The opening of our 2010-2011 mainstage season is rapidly approaching - October 1st, 2010 to be exact!

Here's a quick glance at the shows in our upcoming season:

Mauritius by Theresa Rebeck - Seattle premiere!
October 1st-24th, 2010

Quick Summary: It's a thriller about stamp collecting. What more do you need?
Quick Quote: "He's a rich rich international businessman type of person. You know, real estate, corporate merger-type, governmental arms deals, that sort of thing. I can never really keep track. Mostly we talk about stamps. He loves stamps, a lot."
Quick Review: "The outcome that Rebeck wrests from this five-way tug of war is ingenious, a send-them-home-smiling 11th-hour coup." - TheaterMania


Jacob Marley's Christmal Carol by Tom Mula
December 3rd-24th, 2010

Quick Summary: Jacob Marley is stuck in limbo, and he can't get out unless he gets old Scrooge to change his ways.
Quick Quote: "Jacob Quimby Marley was a proper, tight, dry, pruny old thing. His face was frozen in sour disapproval, as if he had bitten into a lemon by mistake and hadn't liked it much."
Quick Review: "A welcome antidote to some of the more saccharine stories of the season." -Triangle Theatre Review


The Best Christmas Pageant Ever by Barbara Robinson
December 10th-24th, 2010

Quick Summary: The town troublemakers take over the annual Christmas pageant, and hilarity, burnt applesauce cakes, and good cheer ensue!
Quick Quote: "The Herdmans were the worst kids in the whole history of the world. They lied and stole and smoked cigars, even the girls, and talked dirty and cussed their teachers and took the name of the Lord in vain and set fire to Fred Shoemaker's old broken down tool house."
Quick Review: The audiences speaks for themselves - this is our 10th annual production of SPT's most popular show!


My Wonderful Day by Alan Ayckbourn - Seattle premiere!
January 28th-February 10th, 2011

Quick Summary:
A family comedy told from the perspective of a 9-year-old girl.
Quick Quote: "I wish I’d been given choices when I was little. All I got was Tiffany Louise. Which left me with Tiffy or Tiff or Lou. Which always makes me sound like a cross between a quarrel and lavatory."
Quick Review: "Mr. Ayckbourn winds things up with a fine flourish and My Wonderful Day is as moving as it is funny." - CurtainUp


The Happy Ones by Julie Marie Myatt - Seattle premiere!
March 18th-April 10th, 2011

Quick Summary: An All-American husband and father struggles to reconcile with the man who took his family away.
Quick Quote: "Hating the man that killed your family won't get you anything. Nothing. You're a better person than that."
Quick Review: "Subtly depicting the overwhelmingly difficult process of mourning and letting go, Myatt leavens the tragedy without blunting its significance." - Backstage


Arms and the Man by George Bernard Shaw
May 20th-June 12th, 2011

Quick Summary: A classic satire of war, full of love, humor, and a chocolate soldier.
Quick Quote: "I've no ammunition. What use are cartridges in battle? I always carry chocolate instead; and I finished the last cake of that yesterday."
Quick Review: "One joke after another … a firecracker.” - CityBeat

Intrigued? 3- and 4-show subscriptions still on sale! Contact the box office at 206-524-1300 or visit www.seattlepublictheater.org for more information.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Summer Wrap-up

Fuddy Meers - our 2010 Senior Show

Well, it's that time of the year again. Yes, we're talking about the first day of school. For us, the first day of school means only one thing: summer, or rather our Summer Youth Program, is officially over.
Mary Zimmerman's Secret in the Wings - presented by the High School Ensemble
But it was great while it lasted! Summer 2010 was our biggest ever - our little theater on Green Lake was busy morning 'til night for 10 weeks straight. In total, more than 200 students and 50 tech interns participated in 20 classes and 6 productions!
Those 6 productions were the most we've ever done in a single summer. 3 middle school shows, 2 high school shows, and our annual Senior Show meant that we offered the public 9 straight weekends of free theater at Green Lake! And people took advantage - more than 2,000 audience members came out to see our students perform, and donated more than $9,000 to support the youth program and scholarship fund.

Much Ado About Nothing - Our High School Ensemble closes out the summer
All told, it was a hugely successful summer. And while everyone is exhausted from working to make it all happen, we don't have much time to rest - rehearsals for our mainstage season have already started, and rehearsals for the fall youth ensemble shows start in just a few weeks!
A huge thank you to the staff, teaching artists, volunteers, parents, and most importantly students who make our youth program possible!

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Box Office Re-Opens with Mauritius Pre-Sale!

After our summer "hiatus", the Box Office at Seattle Public Theater is re-opening for the 2010-2011 mainstage season. Beginning today, regular hours will resume: Wednesday through Saturday, 12pm-5pm.

To celebrate, we are holding a pre-sale for our first production of the season, Theresa Rebeck's Mauritius. From now until 5:00pm on September 11th, all tickets for Mauritius are on sale! $2 off all Preview, Opening Night, and Youth tickets, and $4 off all Adult and Senior tickets! This special offer is only available over the phone or in person at the box office, not online, and you must mention the pre-sale to get your discounted tickets.

Buy now and save!

The Box Office is located at the historic Bathhouse Theatre on Green Lake, at 7312 West Green Lake Dr. N in Green Lake Park. The Box Office phone number is 206-524-1300. The Box Office is open Wednesday through Saturday, 12pm to 5pm.

3- and 4-show packages to our 2010-2011 season are also available, over the phone, in person, or via our website: www.seattlepublictheater.org. Subscribers save 10-20% over regular ticket prices, and receive other perks such as free ticket exchanges, neighborhood discounts, and more!