Star Struck

From Joanna Horowitz, Communications Department

Forgive me for the lapse in posts. Lots of blog-worthy things have happened this week, I've just been recovering from a fantastic (read: late and wine-filled) opening night. But here we are, Friday. The Lady From Dubuque has opened and is getting strong reviews already. Read Misha Berson's take on the play in today's Seattle Times. She says, "(David) Esbjornson tracks down every nuance, comic and tragic, in a script that does keep surprising you." But of course I'm paid to market the show and can hardly be trusted, so read it yourself.

Monday night Edward Albee was here for Stage Voices, a free, non-regular series we put on at the Rep that lets audience members engage in a more intimate dialogue with theatre artists. Last season we did one with Ariel Dorfman and another with Heather Raffo (playwright of 9 Parts of Desire). It's pretty amazing to get to peer into the heads of some incredibly talented and smart people. Or, in the case of Mr. Albee, one of the greatest American playwrights, um, ever. He was funny, insighftul, and spoke with the sternly playful authority of a man who has written nearly 30 plays.

On his writing process: He doesn't like to talk about it because he doesn't really have a process. He puts his trust completely in his characters. He knows they're ready to be in his play when he can go to the beach and write a 20-minute improvised, not-int-the-actual-play scene with them that's truthful. He writes long hand because then he can write anywhere and besides he doesn't trust computers.

On the state of theater: "For every 100 plays I read, one is good." He said the state of theater is OK when there are three or four playwrights who really get it, who are really creating works that help us understand what it is to be human.

On becoming a playwright: As a teenager he wrote bad stories and even worse poetry. But one of his stories had a brilliant first line: "Everything in Rome is uphill." He was great at imitating other writers, but didn't really find his voice until he wrote his first play, Zoo Story.

On the title Who's Afraid of Virgina Woolf?: He saw it written on a mirror in a bar in Greenwich Village.

Mr. Albee stuck around for opening night and was approached or at least eyed by many-a admirer. For us theatre people, it's kind of like having Brad Pitt around, except shorter and smarter (sorry, Brad). I didn't meet him personally, but I did get to interview Phylicia Rashad today who was here casting Gem of the Ocean, which she is directing here in March. This is her directorial debut, though she's very familiar with the play having starring in it on Broadway. She had a lot of passionate things to say about August Wilson's work, but I found the most endearing part of our conversation when my tape recorder kept stopping and she suggested we name it Priscilla and stroke it gently to get it to keep working. For the most part, it was a very relaxed, comfortable interview, although I did have a moment or two of, "Um, this is Mrs. Huxtable!" I think the play will be amazing. She has this graceful presence about her that I can tell is just going to flow out her fingers and cover the entire production (why does that sentence make me think of Spiderman?).

This blog is getting awfully long. Is anyone reading these? Leave a comment or something and let me know. If I don't hear from you, I will assume I have free reign to say anything, and my next blog will probably be about how I spent my weekend.

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