Braden’s Edward Albee Story

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WHO’S AFRAID OF VIRGINIA WOOLF? cast! From left: R. Hamilton Wright, Amy Hill, Pamela Reed, Aaron Blakely. Photo: Alabastro Photography.

When we made our decades inserts for our 50th Anniversary season, we asked Associate Artistic Director Braden Abraham to recount his fondest, funniest, and most disastrous memories of the Rep. In the third category he shared a story about an encounter with playwright Edward Albee. With Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? closing this weekend, we thought we’d share it again with you all:

When Edward Albee was in town for The Lady from Dubuque, we set up a special pre-show event for him and [then Artistic Director and show director] David Esbjornson to discuss the play and all things Edward Albee. About an hour and a half before the event, David casually walked by my desk and asked me to come up with a few questions to ask him and Edward. I said, “No problem,” but of course I panicked, thinking, “What the hell do you ask Edward Albee?” I hurriedly made a list of questions and brought them over to Ten Mercer for Edward to review while they were having dinner.  While I stood there next to the table, likely sweating, Edward looked them over carefully and handed them back to me.  “Those will be fine,” he said without expression.  After dinner, David asked me to host the interview, and the three of us settled into our chairs on the Leo K stage.  I asked Edward the first question on my list, to which he replied, “now, why would you ask me a question like that?”  The audience burst into laughter, I turned beet red.  Edward looked at me impishly…I guess there are worse things in the world than being publicly humiliated by Edward Albee.

To read more of Braden’s memories at the Rep, visit Decades Insert Five.

An August Wilson Weekend: The Highlights

First trip to Times Square!

First trip to Times Square!

The following post was written by one of our chaperones to the 2014 August Wilson Monologue Competition, Communications Assistant Rose Woodbury.

Wow! What an amazing whirlwind of a weekend we just had in New York City. I had the joy of accompanying Seattle’s August Wilson Monologue Competition finalists Alexis Baldridge, Josiah Townsend, and Jazzy Ducay to nationals with co-chaperone Zoe Wilson. I don’t think I’ve ever seen so many places, met so many famous and talented artists, and been so inspired in a 72-hour period. (And I wasn’t even performing!)

Our weekend started when we met at the airport last Saturday at 5:30 a.m. and flew to a small boutique hotel in Times Square. The 45 minute ride from JFK airport to the hotel was full of oohs and aahs and “Oh.My.God!”; it was our students’ first time in the Big Apple!

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Wilsonian Soldiers Ship Off

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Our finalists performed for the staff and Board at our send off event last Friday! Clockwise from left: Alexis Baldridge, Josiah Townsend, Jazzy Ducay.

By this time tomorrow Alexis Baldridge, Josiah Townsend, and Jazzy Ducay will be flying to New York to compete in the national August Wilson Monologue Competition on Broadway. They are beyond thrilled to be representing Seattle and one of the most influential playwrights of the 20th century. (They’re also really excited to see Central Park—none of them has been to New York before!)

Alexis, Josiah, and Jazzy (ages 17, 16, and 18 respectively) were chosen by a panel of judges out of 10 semi-finalists at our regional competition in February. Since then they’ve worked and reworked their monologues extensively. Acclaimed actor and August Wilson enthusiast G. Valmont Thomas (aka “G. Val”) coached the students several times. Former Rep Casting Director Peggy Scales also spent time privately coaching Alexis.

In one of G. Val’s first coaching sessions, he shared Wilson’s preface to King Hedley II. The group spent a special amount of time unpacking one particular line: “Art is beholden to the kiln in which the artist was fired.” Wilson’s experience as an African American man growing up in Pittsburgh had a huge effect on his work and his dream to portray real black experiences onstage.

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The Man Behind the Living Room

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Tech rehearsal! Scenic Designer Matt Smucker (center) with Director Braden Abraham (right) and Producing Director Elisabeth Farwell-Moreland (left). Photo: Alabastro Photography.

Coming over to George and Martha’s house for an evening of fun and games? Here’s a glimpse into our scenic designer’s process of figuring out exactly how that iconic living room should look.

Matthew Smucker designed the set for Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?, his second Edward Albee show at the Rep. (His first was Three Tall Women  in 2010.) When asked about what it’s like to design an Albee play, he said, “I find Albee’s writing to be utterly real and utterly absurd simultaneously. The best designs respond to this tension.”

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What Did You Think of Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?

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Pamela Reed plays Martha. Photo: Alabastro Photography.

We want to know what you thought of Edward Albee’s American classic! Had you seen Virginia Woolf before? Did you enjoy seeing Pamela Reed and R. Hamilton Wright tackle the iconic roles of George and Martha? What about the set design? Please leave your comment below!

 

 

 

 

New Play Road Tripping: Humana Festival Part 2

The following post was written by playwright, translator, dramaturge, and former Seattle Rep Artistic Literary Intern, Kate Kremer. It’s the final installment of her new play road trip series—you can read about her previous adventures here and here.

The final two days of the Humana Festival were a whirlwind: on Saturday, mom and I went from Jordan Harrison’s The Grown-Up to SITI Company’s Steel Hammer to a series of ten-minute plays by Rachel Bonds, Jason Gray Platt, and Gregory Hirschak—and from there to a gala spanning the entire Actors Theatre building and also most of Main Street. Bourbon was prominently featured.

Partying in the middle of Main Street 1

Partying in the middle of Main Street!

The next day we were up unreasonably early for the apprentice showcase, Remix 38, which featured work by young playwrights Jackie Sibblies Drury, Idris Goodwin, Basil Kreimendahl, Justin Kuritzkes, and Amelia Roper inspired by dramatic elements, structural conceits, and vivid images from particularly influential plays from Humana’s 38-year history.

From there, we raced to the final show of a seven-show doozy of a weekend: Kimber Lee’s gorgeous and moving brownsville song (b-side for tray), which proved to be, for me, the absolute pinnacle of the Festival.

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New Play Road Tripping: Humana Festival Part 1

The following post was written by playwright, translator, dramaturge, and former Seattle Rep Artistic Literary Intern, Kate Kremer. 

On the road to Louisville

On the road to Louisville.

On Thursday, mom and I set out for Louisville, Kentucky to continue the “new play road trip” begun the weekend before on a trip to Chicago and chronicled in this previous blog post. We’re scouting out new American plays and the programs and theaters that sponsor them—and at 38 years old and running, Actors Theatre’s Humana Festival is prime territory for new play hunting.

We left Rock Island, Illinois at 9:00 am on what was supposed to be a six-hour drive, but with a clairvoyance born of practical experience, we left ourselves three extra hours. True to form, we got caught in a traffic jam on 1-74 and were rerouted off the freeway through the hamlet of Homer.

At which point we happened to drive past the graveyard where my great and great-great grandparents are buried. So we stopped in for a visit. Found them all looking good—great grandma and grandpa Jinkins had just had their tombstone refurbished after a run-in with a drunk driver (thank goodness they were already dead!).

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