Artistic Director John Langs on ACT’s 2018 Season

It’s my third season as Artistic Director at ACT Theatre and I am more than thrilled to announce our next season. I always feel like putting a season together for ACT is like putting together a great conversation. What is the contemporary issue around us? How are the great artists responding to these issues? We look for artists that bring to us diverse voices because there is nothing like a great adventure where we get to learn and walk a mile in someone else’s shoes. I also listen to our audience members, subscribers, and theatergoers on what kinds of show that they like to see. All of these factors go into our season selection.

Here is what we have for our next season…

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Our first show, Ride the Cyclone, will be our co-production with The 5th Ave Theatre. First off, it’s a really powerful musical wrapped in wildly creative constructing  identity. The difference between who people assume we are and what we are in the inside is the key point. The play introduces us to a group of individuals and creates high stakes of contest that make them show their inner truth. I feel like the writing team of this piece has created a kind of revoluntionary form of wacky that is the vehicle for this exciting exploration.

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The Wolves: I’ve never seen a writer get out of the gate as quickly as Sarah DeLappe. Her writing has a short footedness that speaks about an intimidating group of young women in America and everything that happens to them (puberty, relationships, the age between child and adult). I am so excited to see the light come up on this play. We get to see a team of inside soccer players become female warriors competing, not only with other teams for their league’s championship, but also with each other and themselves. We found out that director Sheila Daniels, aside from being one of the respected directors in Seattle for ensemble work, was also a competitive soccer player. It will be exciting to see the Allen Theatre transform into an inside soccer field in Spring 2018!

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Until the Flood: Dale Orlandersmith is powerful! She had the courage to walk into Ferguson, Missouri and interview hundreds of members of the affected community after the killing of Michael Brown by a police officer. This piece was so inspiring to me that we felt like we absolutely had to make space for it for the 2018 season. Theatre is a political act when one living breathing human being speaks truth of their point of view. There’s an immediate charge and a challenge to hear that truth. Orlandersmith has taken on the topic of race in several of her plays and she has an evenhanded way of bringing the audience to the conversation. In Until the Flood, she has instilled the interviews during her time in Ferguson into nine different characters right in front of you onstage. She plays the young and old, the black and the  white, allowing the feelings of the ideologies/equal voice to spring into an inspiring evening of theatre.

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Lauren Weedman Doesn’t Live Here Anymore: Lauren Weedman began her career locally, graduating from the University of Washington and working with theatre groups like Annex Theatre before her star began to rise. Most recently, she was seen in Looking (HBO). Her roots in theatre and playmaking run deep and she has performed all over the country. She brings a wildly irreverent spirit and daring to the stage. She’s the kind of artist that has you exploding with laughter in one minute and she can just as quickly take the wind out of the sails into the next. Bringing her band to perform a kind of acrobatic act into shifting identity, she plays both herself Lauren Weedman, the actress in midlife crisis and her alter-ego, Tammy Lisa, who is a variety country singer. It’s a dizzying, Freudian, music-filled romp that will definitely be fun for our summer spot.

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Skylight: This has been on my list of favorite plays since it was produced in 1995. It’s an exquisitely, intimate rendering of the attempt to reunite a troubling relationship between two people who have loved each other deeply. David Hare – who is a remarkable, political playwright – is at his best here. I think it’s because he focused so much on the relationship and chemistry. This play is one of the most sensual that I have ever seen on stage. I would recommend audiences to have a bite to eat before they attend. There’s at one point that the two of them create a meal, and the scent of all that’s good. This is a show that requires two actors at the top of their game and I can’t wait to announce who will be in it.

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Oslo: We are so fortunate to have booked the rights to this beautiful Tony Award™ winning play. Oslo takes a complex and massive history and pulls it like a tight rope, creating a nail biting, high-octane historical drama like no other.  What excites me the most about Oslo is the fact that it is a true story – and it changed the course of history for Palestine & Israel through the Oslo Accord.

This year, we hope you join us as an ACT subscriber, and become part of the conversation surrounding these five incredible shows. As audience members, you get to watch each piece come to life through our theatre. Every piece brings something new, and something familiar, to all of us.

I hope to see you all at ACT this season!

– John Langs, Artistic Director

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An Artistic Director’s First Season – John Langs

When Artistic Director John Langs sat down to plan his inaugural season at ACT Theatre, politics weighed heavily on his mind.

“We found ourselves in the very crosshairs of the national conversation,” John says. “From Assassins to Daisy to The Royale to Dangerous Liaisons—the art that we chose to make in 2016 fearlessly and sometimes uncomfortably leaned in to the issues of the world at large. We certainly ignited strong feelings and deeper conversations.”

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From Sean Devine’s Daisy, photo by Dawn Schaefer.

He looks forward to taking a different approach in 2017—one framed by hope.

“Whatever your views are, it is my assertion that we could all use a bit of hopefulness as we push past 2016,” he says. “I looked for stories of inspiration and redemption—about deepening community through joy and togetherness, both on Mainstage and in ACTLab.”

The 2017 Season opens with Nina Raine’s Tribes, a story of acceptance as an eccentric family come to terms with the independence of their favorite son. The Legend of Georgia McBride explores how an Elvis impersonator finds his true calling as a drag queen. King of the Yees is an epic joy ride into the heart of Chinatown, as a father and daughter seek to find one another. Alex & Aris is a world premiere about Aristotle shaping the moral compass of the man who would become Alexander the Great. The season ends with one of the seminal plays in the American theatrical canon, and a timely parable, Arthur Miller’s The Crucible.

John finds that the plays featured in the 2017 Season reflect his ongoing dialogue with the community, and the desire to connect more deeply to the art. He has enjoyed meeting patrons and city dwellers in ACT’s many lobbies, at post-play discussions, and on the streets surrounding ACT’s downtown home. The annual holiday classic A Christmas Carol, which reaches nearly 20,000 people during the festive season, continues to meet another need in the community: to press pause on the world outside and find a heartwarming escape within.

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Langs at a cast and creative team meet and greet.

“It’s not lost on me the remarkable demand audiences have for this year’s A Christmas Carol,” he says. “It points toward the need for a communion around generosity and friendship.”

In the same spirit, ACT is celebrating the 10th Anniversary of ACTLab, a program that continues to serve as an incubator and catalyst for new works with emerging and seasoned artists. This year, the Lab will provide an artistic home for local groups such as The Seagull Project, Pratidhwani, eSe Teatro, and Theatre22.

“After 10 years, it’s safe to say that ACTLab has had an enormous impact on the artistic and cultural life of the city,” he says.

He hopes ACTLab will continue to help artists transform their work and reach new audiences in one of five stellar ACT venues. At the same time, 2017 poses the opportunity to present even more daring work.

“We are just getting started,” he says.

For more details on ACT’s 2017 Season and ACTLab’s 10th Anniversary, visit acttheatre.org.

The Mystery of Love & Sex – A Conversation with Ray Abruzzo

From The Mystery of Love & Sex Encore

John Langs: Ray, welcome to ACT Theatre—I’m so happy you’re here. We had a little conversation in the first day of rehearsal that I thought was really poignant about The Mystery of Love & Sex by Bathsheba Doran, which you are rehearsing right now.

Ray Abruzzo: …And having a great time.

JL: I’m so glad! I have always thought of this play as sort of the balm in the age of sexual confusion. And I know that you had some experience on this kind of groundbreaking show that’s changing culture…

RA: The Sopranos? [laughs]

JL: That one as well! I was talking about Transparent. It’s just a lovely gift for all of us. Continue reading “The Mystery of Love & Sex – A Conversation with Ray Abruzzo”

The Mystery of Love & Sex – A Note from Artistic Director John Langs

From The Mystery of Love & Sex Encore

ACT Theatre Artistic Director John Langs. Photo by Alabastro Photography.
ACT Artistic Director John Langs. Photo by Alabastro Photography.

One of the great boundaries that has been broken at the beginning of this century is the right to love whom we choose. Although the battles are still being waged, it seems clear that tradition and dogma are giving way to the choice the heart makes about whom and how we love.

Coming of age in this more liberated time seems exhilarating, but as this play points out, freedom might not always make the path to love a smooth one. Although society may be more accepting or less prescriptive, we all have our own deep internal struggles based upon our identity, personal history, and familial expectations. Finding yourself, your voice, seems to me to be a lifelong effort, but never more immediate than when we are young, in those intensely-felt years that span high school and college when we simultaneously know nothing and everything; that moment when for the first time we’re able to make choices that will give our lives shape, but also put our young hearts at risk. This play is about that moment and the ramifications it has for our family, friends, and the world at large. Continue reading “The Mystery of Love & Sex – A Note from Artistic Director John Langs”

An Interview with Playwright Aaron Posner

An interview with playwright Aaron Posner
By John Langs, ACT Artistic Director
From the Stupid Fucking Bird Encore program

JL: Well hello Aaron Posner, how are you? What’s going on in your life?

AP: Well, I’m in Las Vegas.

JL: Wow, what’s going on in Vegas?

AP: I’m actually working for Cirque du Soleil this week. Consulting on three of their shows, basically doing acting coaching and a little dramaturgy, that kinda thing. Continue reading “An Interview with Playwright Aaron Posner”

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An Update from the Fellow!

This blog post was written by Kenan Directing Fellow Wiley Basho Gorn

Switching “Hats”

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Wiley Basho Gorn works with this year’s Tiny Tim (Ava Drummond) on the crutch walk cross

The past few weeks have been especially engaging. My directing fellowship showcase, As You Like It, has had three weeks of rehearsals so far (more on this in a later post) and A Christmas Carol has just opened after a whirlwind two-week rehearsal process. A Christmas Carol celebrates the 40th anniversary of Greg Falls’ adaptation being presented on ACT’s stage. It is a Seattle holiday tradition, a community favorite, and although the design elements remain mostly the same each year, the constant flow of new actors to each character brings fresh life to a timeless story. Continue reading “An Update from the Fellow!”

Launching the ACT/Kenan Directing Fellowship

The following post was written by Kenan Directing Fellow Wiley Basho Gorn.

Greetings!

It’s been about two months and much more has happened than I could ever hope to put into a single blog post. I’m going to start with some collective wisdom from the past six weeks.

The Beginning

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The Directing Fellow desk in the 2nd floor Artistic Offices

 To begin: when entering into a new environment so much of the work is about establishing your own space and rhythm, while simultaneously shapeshifting to meet the needs and requirements of the job, and when it comes to the creation of theatre, also identifying one’s role in the rehearsal room. Each time I assist on a production I am given the opportunity to reinvent my way of thinking, assistant directing is a chance to turn the ego upside-down and recommit to serving the story. Continue reading “Launching the ACT/Kenan Directing Fellowship”