Meet ACT’s Kenan Directing Fellow

Two opening night parties, seven new play readings, two preview performances, three donor engagement events, six actors auditioned, 38 plays flown through in search of a showcase piece, a board meeting, a development scheduling meeting, and a preliminary design meeting for a world premiere. Plus, three bike rides, a hike on Mount Si, one round of home brew bottled, two dozen oysters, one geoduck, the first few episodes of Grace and Frankie, a weekend distillery tasting tour, one treadmill picked up and delivered, countless trips to the seventh floor for coffee and printouts, and perhaps seeing one too many butts up on stage in a modern dance piece.

Not a bad laundry list for the first three weeks at ACT (and yes, I have done my laundry as well.) It’s hard to believe that it’s only been three weeks so far. After an amazing cross country trip with my older brother (pictures below) and a few easy days wandering around beautiful Seattle before diving into Fellowship orientation, it is fair to say that I am now swimming in it. Theatre, that is. I think I’m going to title these first three weeks “Arts Admin Bootcamp.” Since there isn’t a show in rehearsal currently, it means I have the space to decide what I want to know about how a theatre runs, and then go find the people at ACT who can teach me about those things. So far, that has meant that I’ve sat in on and participated in literary planning meetings for the upcoming season (including reading selections of possible plays with ACT’s Core Company members), helped search for unproduced plays by Latinx playwrights for ACTLab’s Construction Zone series, and have attended Theater Puget Sound’s Unified General Auditions with ACT’s casting director, Margaret Layne.

From left to right: ACT’s Artistic Director John Langs, Kenan Fellow Alex Bodine, and Artistic & Literary Manager Emily Penick

ACT has a warm and receptive community of artists and theatre-makers who have not only made me feel welcome, but are excited about my questions and my role here at ACT. I get questions every day about my thoughts on my upcoming showcase (which is both nerve-wracking, and speaks to the precedent that my predecessors Wiley and Samip have set.) The ACT community’s enthusiasm is infectious, and makes me excited for a month more of picking their collective hive-mind before I head into Midsummer rehearsals with John out in Spring Green, WI. at American Players Theatre.

That’s not to say that John and I aren’t already in the thick of it with prep work for our upcoming rehearsals. Midsummer is approaching fast, but so is Alex & Aris: Education of a King, the world premiere by Moby Pomerance that’ll hit ACT’s mainstage this summer. It’s great to be back in a room working on a new play. John and I keep asking questions and experimenting with this story about historically epic figures (Alexander the Great and Aristotle), seeing how we can make them breathing and contemporary people. This will be the longest amount of time that I’ve spent with a play that is still in the works, and I can’t wait to see what kind of evolutions take place. And I can’t wait to see what kind of epic world the designers create for this piece. The design meetings promise a kind of operatic grandeur.

From left to right: Langs, Bodine, and Penick

Outside of work, Seattle is a lush city. I am in love with the teeming life that grows up around the architecture. My neighborhood in Montlake is so similar to the Washington Park neighborhood back in Winston Salem that I’m finding myself getting nostalgic for my North Carolina days. With days full of theatre, and nights spent exploring the food and beer culture, I think it’s fair to compare my time in Seattle so far as a wide-eyed greedy kid in a candy store.

As promised, some photos that I captured on my trip to Seattle from Rhode Island, with my older brother, Andy:




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