Final Leo K. slot filled for next season

From Joanna Horowitz, Communications Department

I forgot to mention that the TBA we had in the upcoming season has been filled by Cheryl L. West's piece Birdie Blue, a lovely (albeit frank) look at love, marriage and the passing of time. Cheryl is a Seattle playwright, in fact her piece Addy: An American Girl Story is actually playing right now at Seattle Children's Theatre. She also penned Jar the Floor, Holiday Heart, and Before It Hits Home.

The addition of Birdie Blue has rearranged the order of the Leo K season a bit. Visit the Rep's website for all the details. By the way, if you're currently a subscriber, the renewal deadline is April 27. If you're wanting to start subscribing (AKA be totally cool), you can do it anytime (you just won't know your seats until early this summer). Just call our box office at 206-443-2222. I won't bore you with all the benefits, but I'll tell you my personal favorite is the free cocktail you get at the Rep's bar. You know me, if I can reference a martini in a blog, it's a good day.

Home stretch

From Joanna Horowitz, Communications Department

It's a weird time around here. The season is winding down, the Rachel Corrie team is in Olympia for a weekend of shows in Evergreen's Experimental Theater (FYI: April 27 & 28 at 8 pm and April 28 & 29 at 2 pm; tickets online at or call 360-876-6651).

Anyway, it's quiet around here. I've been doing some very exciting archiving, a little myspace page updating, a little brainstorming about next season. In all this dim of activity in the admin offices, it's strange to remember that there are still two huge shows happening downstairs. I got to work today and realized there's only a week and a half left in this season. May 6 is the last day for both My Name is Rachel Corrie (which is still generating controversy—director Braden Abraham was just interviewed on Al-Jazeera) and Gem of the Ocean (which is still generating audience exclamations of, "That was fantastic!") I just heard that the Oregon Shakespeare Festival is also doing Gem of the Ocean and our production is a half an hour shorter. Phylicia Rashad knows how to keep the pace up—must be all those years on The Cosby Show.

If you haven't seen Gem of the Ocean yet, Friday would be a good time. April 27 is national August Wilson Day (it would have been Mr. Wilson's 62nd birthday). If you happen to be in New York, head down to Bryant Park at 10 a.m. for the celebration kick off with Whoopi Goldberg, Tonya Pinkins and Tamara Tunie. Radio Golf (which we did last season) is also about to open on Broadway. It's essentially our production (same set, costumes, majority of the same actors), which is pretty exciting.

Speaking of exciting, I think there might be some cinnamon rolls in our production department. It's crazy around here.

Performance: An Actor's Blog

From actor Marya Sea Kaminski, playing Rachel in My Name is Rachel Corrie.

April 10th.
Dear Rachel Corrie.
Happy Birthday.
Aries. The Ram.
I am so glad you were born.
Which is what I say to all my best friends on their birthdays.
Glad. Certainly. Does not say it.
I want to wrap all of my thanks. In parchment with poems and tie it with the boy scout belt that I stole from my brother when I was in the seventh grade.
I want to thank you.
For introducing me to bravery.
Not the vaguery of bravery. Not the abstract concept reserved for difficult situations.
Real bravery. Bravery reserved for people who will themselves into their hometowns. Which I could never do.
Thank you. Thankyouthankyouthankyou.
For teaching me how to talk to a room full of people without taking their temperatures first. To speak the truth without being afraid. To follow my gut. To deciding every night, over and over again, in every show, at 7:42pm every day for the last month... to decide. To be. An artist. And a writer. And for telling me not to give a shit if I'm mediocre.
I'm in the phase of this production when I cannot help but quote the play at every turn. So forgive me while I offer your words back to you. As some contemporary sort of blog sacrifice. As some testament to the way you continue to speak loudly, and sometimes with severe superbowl fumbles, through me every night.
Thank you for giving me this moment. On the eve of my thirtieth birthday.
To remember what it is like to be twenty three. And to throw my body around with exuberant flirtation. To speak what you feel in your gut is truth, and haven't met enough men or newspapers to second guess it.
This is no accident. You. Your birthday. You.
Thank you for walking me to a place, word by word, where I can cry every night. For the murderous climate of the world and for my family.
Rachel, your family misses you so much. It stops my breath every time I hear them speak of your death, or of the following months. At a talkback last week, Sarah talked about watching your mom sitting in a Starbucks a few weeks after you'd been killed, and realizing that their lives will never, ever be the same.
Of course not.
Of course.
After my brother Adam died in 2002, I had a similar realization. Not in sadness. Of course, his death left a hole in me that will remain vacant and inhabitable for the rest of my days. But not because I am wounded. But because I am so, so full of him. And his joy and insight and restlessness. I will never be the same because he shifted my entire understanding of the world in a profound way. And now he is gone. And I am shifted.
I can't help but think Sarah is peppered with the same resonance.
The world will never be the same for having lost you.
But, mostly, we will never be the same for having had you.
You have reminded me what the smell of rain is.
Not rain on sidewalks, or cleaning out gutters.
But real rain.
You have reminded me why I love to ride the bus.
Because no matter how tired or battered or annoyed I am, we are all on the bus together. Going about our small days.
In your essays, you talk about your butterfly. That you chase with a hat pin. You talk about trying to get other people to chase your butterfly with you. But they can't. Because they have their own to pursue. Their own fluttering greatness that leads them forward... onto the bus, and into their day, and through their heartbreak, and beyond their day jobs.
Every night, before I go onstage, I conjure that. I conjure the butterfly in my chest. In the middle of my chest, my heartspace, that is flapping delicately against the whirlwind and leading me forward. On to the stage. Into the audience.
When I look out into the audience for the first time every night, and get ready to invite them into your show, I imagine their butterflies. Pounding loud and delicate in their chests. The butterflies that have lead them here to witness, or argue, or experience you.
I open every night to a field of butterflies, turning off their cell phones and folding up their programs.
Thank you. For reminding me that we are all the same. We are all after the same thing.
And thank you for making me listen to my music more deeply. And for challenging me to dance at every turn. And for making me imagine what it is to swim in Puget Sound naked in the night. And for making me imagine the horrors of Rafah. To bring it home. To envision what it would be for all of my friends, and my family, and the gregarious black boy who bags my groceries at the Safeway... to envision what it would be to have our lives ripped out from under us. To have sniper towers and tanks instead of cell phone towers and taxi cabs defining the perimeters of my neighborhood.
I can't believe you. I can't believe your guts.
To give up everything. And by everything, I don't mean your young and vibrant life which is the sacrifice that so many people jump to. But to give up your world in Olympia, you amazingly nurturing family, your quilt of good friends, your unquestionable promise, to go and see what the world is really like. Beyond Seattle. Beyond happy hours and self-congratulatory fundraisers. For actually going out and witnessing the actions that actually define the world we live in.
I can't believe that you were only twenty-three.
My ripe and tender twenty-nine bows down, and gathers the stones you have dropped.
Happy birthday, Rachel Corrie.
I am so glad that you were born.

Piece of cake

From Joanna Horowitz, Communications Department

Opening night. I am emerging from the Kleenex-strewn haze of a cold. Was going to blog from home on Monday, in between tea and DVDs of Six Feet Under, but wasn't sure what kind of delirious drivel would come out of my (very low-grade, don't worry mom) fever. So, now that I am on the mend, I thought it might be a good time to reach out and, you know, touch someone. Coincidentally, Marya also sent over a blog today, so you're in for a whole lot of blog-y goodness.

So, tonight we open Gem of the Ocean. I saw it last night in previews. I was a little wary because I wasn't sure if I would be able to stay focused in my sniffly state, but I was completely engaged. Really, you have to believe that I say these things truthfully and not because I work here. Just know that I'm not a liar, so if I don't like a play, I'm going to write, "I'm so busy, I didn't have time to see it, but I heard it was awesome!" So, I can say in all honestly, that this is a really beautiful, excellently paced (i.e. not boring), surprisingly funny piece. The acting is really solid, and the actors (with Ms. Rashad's direction) have made some really interesting choices that bring astounding depth to the characters. The music is awesome. The writing, of course, is so eloquently woven. The friend I saw the show with said afterwards, "I don't know how August Wilson did it. Every line moves the story forward in such a beautiful way."

And, as always, you don't have to take my word for it. We send out surveys to our preview audiences to see what the initial response to the show is. The feedback has been really positive. Such as:

“Aunt Ester will be for me one of the great characters of American theater... [the play] is hauntingly beautiful...historically stark with invaluable lessons about the fragility and preciousness of freedom in our own time.”

“We told our family about our enjoyable evening at the Rep. It was nice to finish the August Wilson cycle with such a good production. The play stands well on its own but if you've seen any of Wilson's other plays it has a feel of family.”

“Lively and quite entertaining - very thought provoking”

“Superb actors”

“The production is amazing and profoundly moving. The acting is extremely fine. The play is stunning.”

“Excellent! A fine theatrical experience.”

“I thought Phylicia Rashad's production was superb! Very few actors or directors could do it so well. I hope she does more at the Rep. It was fabulous.”

Personally, I am grateful to Gem of the Ocean above all because it meant in celebration of the opening each department at work got a cake, and all day people have been wandering around in sugared-up stupor declaring, "The carrot is better than the white chocolate mousse!" Ok, I'm being glib. But you only be intellectually stimulating for so long. Someone get me a fork.

Smells Like Teen Spirit

From Joanna Horowitz, Communications Department

I just came back from taking photos of students from three local high schools warming up for their show tonight, Teenspeak: My Name Is (for details, see the blog below "Thinking, Talking"). I don't feel right posting pictures of our high schoolers (although I can testify they were giggly then they were impressively focused), but I do feel fantastic posting this picture of our Education Programs Manager Scott Koh, taken just prior to warm-ups, which he clearly didn't need.

Scott might be making that face because the education team has got a bit of the crazy, winding down a really intense year. This particular Teenspeak project, under the guidance of Scott's fellow Education Programs Manager Fran Kao, has been a year in the making and now will be debuted and closed in less than 40 minutes in one night. Without any breather, they all launch into Drama Intensive, a collaboration with The Center School. Playwriting students work with Education Director Andrea Allen to help shape a script (this year's is an adaptation of the restoration comedy School for Scandal) then switch gears to become the actors while another class designs sets and costumes. I was involved in the marketing last year for the circus-y "Pants on Fire." It was fun and exhausting, and I think I made that Scott Koh face more than once.

It is cool, though, with so many education programs happening, there's always a sense of vitality around here. We have a new crop of post-college interns every year (you can read their blog here), high school interns at different points in the season, and very often some students in one of the rehearsal spaces preparing for something under the direction of one of our teaching artists. We pack out the student matinees, which, for shows like Fire on the Mountain, become something of a rock concert (you should have heard the girls squeal over hottie Lorenzo Pisoni in The Great Gatsby, of course I did too, so that's not really a high school thing). It's just a nice reminder that these are (we hope) the next generation of arts patrons; some are already. The sustainability of theater really depends on them. Scary? Yes, sometimes, when you're teaching a class and can't compete with iPods and cell phones, but also exciting. When they're committed, they are committed and producing really amazing stuff.

Speaking of, time to go down and watch the My Name Is Project. Would it be horrible to have a cocktail at the bar downstairs before I go? I want to try out the new Gem of the Ocean specialty drink (a gimlet, called the Aught 4). Ok, ok, I'll wait until after.

Rachel Corrie Extended

Because the show has been close to sold out every night, we've added seven performances of My Name is Rachel Corrie. The show goes to Olympia after its originally scheduled closing date (April 22), and then will return to Seattle Rep May 2. It will play through May 6. Specific dates and times are here.

How's that for short and sweet? (the blog, that is.)