Seattle Rep Takes on Ten New Projects

January 18
9:47 PM 2011

Ten new projects from national and Seattle playwrights will be in development this spring through Seattle Repertory Theatre's New Play Program, the theatre announced today. Projects in the works include plays by Robert Schenkkan (By the Waters of Babylon, The Kentucky Cycle), Cheryl West (Holiday Heart, Play On, Rejoice!), Kathleen Tolan (Memory House), Stephanie Timm (On the Nature of Dust), and Seattle actors R. Hamilton Wright and David Pichette.

Seattle Rep will partner with Oregon Shakespeare Festival to help develop Robert Schenkkan's new two-part series on Lyndon B. Johnson. Last season the two theatres partnered for the first time on Bill Cain's play Equivocation, which appeared at OSF and then at Seattle Rep.

The theatre will also continue developing Cheryl West's new play with music, Pullman Porter Blues, which had a public reading at Seattle Rep in September. Artistic Director Jerry Manning has now announced a commitment to producing the work in the fall of 2012.

"Since the New Play Program was officially re-instated in the fall of 2009, Pullman Porter Blues is the first project we've commissioned to move towards a main stage production," said Manning. "This is an exciting moment to see how the process can work-from the seed of an idea to the full realization of a new play."

Another commission in the works is Kathleen Tolan's Istanbul Notes, a piece about Iraqi refugees living in Turkey.

In addition to the commissions, the theatre will support a number of writers through workshops this spring. Those projects include an adaptation of The Hounds of Baskerville by actors David Pichette and R. Hamilton Wright; a partnership with New Century Theatre Company to help develop Stephanie Timm's The Red Dress Party (a contemporary riff on A Streetcar Named Desire); Marya Sea Kaminski's new play inspired by Bonnie and Clyde; Joanna Horowitz's country musical, 100 Heartbreaks; and Jerry Manning's own J.R.R. Tolkien, Joseph McCarthy and Dorothy Day in Milwaukee about three unlikely archivists curating the personal papers of three very unlikely public figures.

The final piece of the New Play Program ties to the theatre's Yes Project, an initiative to inspire young artists and audiences. The Yes Project focuses on finding and developing plays for the main stage that feature young characters and/or have a curriculum tie-in. The first project in development is with Frances Ya-Chu Cowhig, who came to Seattle Rep last February with Lidless, which was workshopped in collaboration with the University of Washington's School of Drama. Using interviews as primary research, Cowhig's piece Neon Night Light (Working Title) will explore the stories and mythologies of people who live off the grid, including homeless youth.

The second is a project with Justin Huertas and Andrea Allen, who acted in and directed 2010's Speech & Debate, respectively. Through a travelogue of sorts, Huertas will chronicle his experiences on the road playing cello with the national tour of Spring Awakening, and the two will develop a piece about coming of age and coming out.

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