What’s in a Word, Exactly?

ML Mumler

Mary Todd Lincoln, and the ghostly apparition of her husband, posing for Mumler’s camera.

The following post was written by Artistic Literary Intern Eric Werner.

Summerland, by Arlitia Jones, is set in the very real world of Charles H. Mumler, a famous spirit photographer in 1869. While the world of the play is fascinating in its own right, Arlitia’s careful rendering of it on the page is a feat of theatrical magic.

As the Artistic Intern assigned to Summerland, I’ve seen firsthand the slow development of the script—at times broad rewrites to help the audience track a particular plot line, other times precise changes to keep our modern ears immersed in the parlance of 1869. These small changes go a long way toward keeping us in the world of the play—audiences are used to theatre using props and costumes to suggest a time era, but they are less attuned to the subliminal effects of language. After all, it is the smallest brush strokes that provide the sharpest detail.


Joyce Degenfelder: By the Numbers


Joyce Degenfelder in her shop! Photo by Amelia Peacock.

The following post was written by Marketing Intern Amelia Peacock.

I hesitate to say that I interviewed Joyce Degenfelder in her “office.” The word implies four walls, a desk, a chair, maybe a floor lamp, and a non-descript watercolor or two. But Joyce’s office is so much more than that – it is a workshop. It is a world!

Joyce’s space in Seattle Repertory Theatre’s costume shop is a spectacular homage to her profession and her talent. Wooden heads with wigs in various stages of completion stare down from rows and rows of shelves. My own face stares back at me from a giant mirror taking up most of the wall opposite the door. Joyce’s “desk” is a wooden vanity counter underneath the mirror and her “chair” is a large, red, barber-style seat. There are no floor lamps or watercolors to be seen, but there are papers and books galore and a work bench with clamps, wig mounts, bright lamps and yet another mirror. Although it is daunting to be faced by mirrors on all sides, Joyce’s space is nevertheless cozy and inviting. I feel like Alice in Wonderland, dropping down a long tunnel to find a whole other world at the bottom. I jumped when Joyce’s phone rang halfway through our interview because it seemed like an alien sound in such a fairytale setting.


We Are Made of Words: On Creating New Plays


One of my favorite maps by Saul Steinberg.

The following post is the second installment in Associate Artistic Director Marya Sea Kaminski‘s blog series, Rising Action.

Joan Didion wrote, “We tell ourselves stories in order to live.” But, how do we craft those stories? Certainly, it’s a different process for a novelist or a journalist, their process of drafting and editing is centered at a desk and negotiated between some trusted readers and editors. Theater is different. It doesn’t live on the page; a play isn’t complete until it is realized in time and space, with breath and intention.

A playwright is making a map. They are the cartographers of our human experience. A playwright starts out learning the territory with her fingertips and her eyes closed, feeling her way through world of the story, trying to identify the characters and forms as they present themselves. Eventually, playwrights need us. They need actors to read, a director to guide, designers to fill in the blanks, and of course, an audience to listen.  Without exception, playwrights explore the landscape of humanity and there comes a time when other humans are necessary to complete the picture. To make sure their story is clear and true.


What’s Up Next for Kitty and Dan?

Duo 1

Jinkx Monsoon and Major Scales. Photo by Nate Watters.

It’s no secret that The Vaudevillians are one busy duo. They’ve been performing ever since they thawed out, and they’ve got gigs lined up the wazoo. What’s next? Here are a few things they’ve got in the hopper:

1. The Vaudevillians sequel. Yes, there’s going to be a part two, and Kitty will be pregnant. Gird your loins.

2. Right after their run at the Rep, Jinkx Monsoon and Major Scales will travel to New York and the UK to perform their holiday show, Unwrapped. This wintertime romp “gives audiences a look at the holiday season through the jaded, sassy, somewhat boozy eyes of two bitter queens.” What could be better?

3. The Inevitable Album. We’re cheating a little on this one since it’s already been released, but with songs like “Coffee and Wine” and “What About Debbie,” you’ve got to give this album a listen. Jinkx wrote all of the original music and did we mention that “The Bacon Shake” music video is one of the most amazing things ever? (Fred Schneider of the B-52’s even makes an appearance in it!)

We hope we’ve given you a few reasons to love The Vaudevillians even more. Catch Seattle natives Jinkx Monsoon and Major Scales at the Rep through November 2 before they fly away to unwrap themselves for New York ;)

Cheryl L. West Back in the House: The First Week of BasketCases Rehearsal

BasketCases team

The BasketCases team!

Written by Artistic Casting Intern, Hattie Claire Andres

I have the pleasure working on Cheryl L. West’s play BasketCases, which will have its first public reading during the upcoming New Play Festival. As our first week of rehearsal came to a close, I jotted down my top four favorite moments thus far, in no particular order:

1. The face of a playwright as they hear their words out loud for the first time…EVER! This is the first workshop for BasketCases, meaning that this is the first time Cheryl is working with actors and a director on the play. Watching her face light up with delight during our first read through as she heard her words read out loud for the first time was a beautiful experience. Kudos to Casting and Literary Associate, Kaytlin McIntyre, for putting together such a fantastic cast!

2. Examining different aspects of life. Cheryl’s play digs into the fascinating world of competitive high school basketball, particularly the (often questionable) changes in personality and morality that evolve and erupt in the gym. For many of us, this week was our first introduction into this world. Not only has the play opened my eyes to the extreme joys and challenges of engaging in athletics at such an elite level, our conversations also turned to wider discussions about race and class that often infiltrate the basketball court.


Rising Action: On Process, Play and Community

Desk photo

From the desk of Marya Sea Kaminski, Associate Artistic Director.

This week marks one month since I joined the artistic staff at Seattle Repertory Theatre. The transition has been joyful and arduous; the enthusiasm of my first few weeks met in equal weight with the endless stream of artistic possibilities measured oddly in tasks, meetings, agendas, Outlook appointments and committees. Despite the practicalities of the process, it is a dream to discuss Art all day long. What to make? How, who and when to make it? How to fund it, sell it, tell the story of the process of creating the story in order to gather the resources for the story to thrive? Fascinating work.


How to Speak Like A Vaudevillian: A Glossary of 1920’s Slang


Well isn’t she just the cat’s meow? Pictured: Jinkx Monsoon. Photo: Nate Watters.

Alright Dames and Gents, before you step out in your glad rags to see Jinkx Monsoon and Major Scales in The Vaudevillians, be sure you don’t get all balled up and mistake a jam for a clam! Or dogs for gams! Although these words may seem unfamiliar, many of them are glaumed straight from the roaring 20s!

Get a slant on these 1920’s slang terms and you’ll be jawing like a bonafide Vaudevillian in no time!

Balled up: confused, messed up

Beef: Problem, issue “What’s your beef with me, pally ?!”

Bee’s Knees: an extraordinary person, thing or idea (ex. Jinx Monsoon and Major  Scales are the bee’s knees!)

Cat’s Meow: fashionable, fabulous (ex. That dress is the Cat’s Meow!)

Cheese it: stash things away, hide (ex. Cheese it! It’s the fuzz!)

Crush: an infatuation

Clam: a dollar