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”

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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”

Inside the World of Bernie’s Apt.

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Rehearsal for Bernie’s Apt.

It’s Marisela’s quinceañera and the women of Bernie’s Apt. are catering the party. There are tortillas to flip, carnitas to season, and taquitos to fry. Bernie’s foster daughters frantically prepare the colossal meal for their upstairs neighbor in a small kitchen—bustling around a fridge yellowing with age, arranging food on a wooden table surrounded by mismatched chairs—while their mother Bernie, aloof to the chaos in the kitchen, perfects the song and dance routine she’ll perform for the crowd.

It’s the opening scene of ACTLab’s Bernie’s Apt., the chaos and liveliness of which are telling of the story that unfolds. We meet Maggie (Sophie Franco), a psychic medium who “siempre esta presente.” We meet Marti (Pilar O’Connell), the primary cook and caretaker of her sisters; Adela (Meme Garcia), the newest member of the family to arrive from Honduras; Angie (Javonna Arriaga), Bernie’s treasured and withdrawn biological daughter; and finally Mama Grande (Yolanda Suarez), the abuela whose brooding presence dominates her nietas on the rare occasion she emerges from her room. Continue reading “Inside the World of Bernie’s Apt.”

Making Her Way

Donor Rose Southall on why ACT is her theatre
From the Stupid Fucking Bird Encore program

St. James Cathedral, Northwest Harvest, and Seattle University are just a few of the organizations championed by ACT donor Rose Southall and her late husband John Southall. Rose believes passionately in giving back to the community through education, health and human services, and of course, the arts. As a subscriber, ACTPass and Legacy Society member, her ACT story started in 1968, when she saw Waiting for Godot at ACT’s original home on Queen Anne.

Rose and her late husband, both longtime Boeing employees, were reintroduced to the theatre during its mid- 90s move to a new home at Kreielsheimer Place. “There was a promotion for Boeing employees–it was a new opportunity to see theatre and we went,” Rose remembers. The Southalls became subscribers and donors the next year. Continue reading “Making Her Way”

Stupid Fucking Bird – A Note from Artistic Director John Langs

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

From the Stupid Fucking Bird Encore program

It was four years ago that I first experienced the power housed inside the writing of Anton Chekhov. Like many who grew up in the theatre or around it, I had been exposed to Chekhov on a number of occasions. First in acting class, where the work was oh-so-precious that I held it at arm’s length. Then as an audience member, where I sat endlessly waiting for something to happen. I came to regard Chekhov as “theatrical spinach” I knew it was good for you, but “Ack!” to the taste. Perhaps a more accurate metaphor would be a child who steals a sip of wine from their parent’s glass-overwhelmed by all the flavors and shocked that anyone could drink it willingly, much less enjoy it.

I agreed to direct my first Chekhov play because the thought of it terrified me, and usually when there is that much fear around an opportunity there’s a great deal of learning to be had as well. Continue reading “Stupid Fucking Bird – A Note from Artistic Director John Langs”

Stupid Fucking Bird – A Note from Director Jessica Kubzansky

From The Stupid Fucking Bird Encore program

“Love, which seems the realest thing, is really nothing at all; a simple grey rock is a thousand times more tangible than love is; and the earth is such a rock, and love only a breeze that dreams over its surface, weightless and traceless, yet love’s more mineral, more dense, more veined with gold and corrupted with lead, more bitter and more weighty than the earth’s profoundest matter. Love is a sea of desire stretched between shores-only the shores are real, but how much more compelling is the sea. Love is the world’s infinite mutability; lies, hatred, murder even are all knit up in it; it is the inevitable blossoming of its opposites, a magnificent rose smelling faintly of blood. A dream which makes the world seem … an illusion. The art of illusion is the art of love, and the art of love is the blood-red heart of the world.” -from Tony Kushner’s adaptation of Corneille’s The Illusion

I am writing this at the end of one of the most intense, passionate, painful, beautiful weeks of rehearsal I have ever had. And all because some guy named Aaron Posner, contemplating his complex relationship with Chekhov, decided to write a variation on Chekhov’s The Seagull called Stupid Fucking Bird, and blew the doors open on a master that was for many people like theatre medicine. Continue reading “Stupid Fucking Bird – A Note from Director Jessica Kubzansky”

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”