Puget Sound Theatre Exploration Project | Vol. 2

Puget Sound Theatre Exploration Project (or PSTEP) is a personal mission to attend a theatrical event at every venue and by every theatre company in the Puget Sound area. I have always believed that the power of collective creativity can only be harnessed if we actually reach out and explore all possibilities. Artist silos, whether intentionally or unintentionally created, are a slow and destructive force. Let’s explore, get out of our bubbles and see what is out there! We just might learn something…

VOL. 2
Some Positive S.H.I.T. (So Happy It’s Thursday)! #tpsSupport. At first I thought, “Will people get annoyed if I keep posting about supporting others’ work?” And then I thought, “If they do, they can hide me or block me.” So here we go! This post may be less about talent and more about experience and environment.

#tpsSupport for 4/20/17-4/26/17:

ArtsWest Playhouse and Gallery: Here’s how I know ArtsWest is a cool place. Being a newcomer to Seattle, I wasn’t aware of every theatre building and company. Dennis Culpepper extended an invitation to their show “FROZEN” and said he’d love to meet another community member. Their TECHNICAL DIRECTOR invited me. Upon meeting him after the show, he began to rave about his theatre and its staff. Technical Directors are notoriously (and stereotypically) disgruntled, underpaid, overworked, frustrated and can be bristly at times…or maybe that’s just my experience. But this told me that this company takes care of each other and staff at every level is working to promote their shows. After the show, I was invited to their opening night party and met the Artistic Director, some of the actors and board members and volunteers. This was the real test: Will these board members know anything about ArtsWest? They passed with flying colors. I got a full history retelling of theatre in West Seattle, AND A BOARD MEMBER INFORMED ME HOW TO GET INVOLVED WITH THEIR THEATRE, CITING SPECIFICS ABOUT WHERE TO FIND VOLUNTEER FORMS ON THEIR WEBSITE. This was incredible. To those who have trained your boards, bravo. To those who haven’t, call me. We can set up a Board Retreat and get their veins pumping again. Anyway, I thought this was a shining example of reaching out to new audiences, welcoming newcomers and engaging their supporters. More of this, please!

Also, you should see FROZEN if you want to see Jonelle Jordan start the show with a monologue that takes you emotionally from Zero to Sixty in record speed or Peter Crook creep you out and break your heart at the same time.

Village Theatre: My first visit to Village Theatre was for “A PROPER PLACE” and I commend them for shepherding a new musical work along. While the material they were working with was not exactly Shakespeare, there was no doubt that each principal and supporting role onstage was played by top-notch musical theatre performers. Special mention to David Caldwell‘s portrayal of Rev. Treherne – finding moments of radiance, vulnerability and humor in a supporting role; Chelsea LeValley‘s exciting solo at the top of Act Two showed off this star’s voice and range; and the costume designer (whose name I couldn’t find listed on the website) who paid homage to J.M. Barrie’s other slightly-better-known work with a touch of Neverland dress on the island, and creatively transformed these aristocrats into Survivors.

Seattle Repertory Theatre: “HERE LIES LOVE” is a shining example of detail, choreography of moments and creating an environment for the audience to experience from the moment they step inside the doors. The only thing missing from this disco was probably lines of coke prepped in the bathroom. (Luckily I brought my own…KIDDING! Just seeing if you’re paying attention). The performers were good, but what I loved about them was that I never thought in my head, “Oh, that was a good performance.” I instead kept thinking, “I can’t wait to see what happens next.” I’m naturally curious, but for the first time, I left the theatre wanting to know more about the story and history of the show, and the subject matter itself. While most theatres couldn’t dream of the budget used on “HLL,” what a great reason to #ExpandTheNEA and not just #SaveTheNEA. I want to see this show again.

Sound Theatre Company: “NADESHIKO” is a show that makes you check your whiteness at the door, and I was thrilled to do so. Finally, a show that portrays Asian-American women as fragile, flawed and fabulous human beings instead of the usual character for “historical context” or stereotype. It embraced stereotype and infused it with smarts. TPS needs to fight for and or build an endowment for creative artist grants just so Keiko Green can keep writing. I thought I saw my 80-year-old ballet teacher be reincarnated in Ina Chang‘s DELIGHTFUL and whimsically natural portrayal of Nadeshiko. Greg Lyle-Newton was an INCREDIBLE scene partner for the young actresses he was onstage with…you could tell he was always listening and responding with nuance (instead of just trying to get the laugh). Maile Wong and Mi Y. Kangbrought an energy to their characters that made time fly by, and I could have willingly sat through an Act 3. Weaving in and out of memory and the present, confidence and extreme vulnerability, duty and defiance…I hope everyone takes the time out of their busy schedule to make this show a priority in their weekend plans.
Also, thank you to Teresa Thuman for celebrating Industry Night and encourage conversation and community with a post-show reception. #tpsSupport…it’s more than a discount.

What’s the best moment you’ve seen in theatre this week? Onstage, behind-the-scenes, on a marketing material or website…there are enough critics. What’s keeping that fire lit inside of you this week?

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