Complete Casting Announced For 2-Play Summer Series THE BAR PLAYS
The Williams Project today announced the cast and creative team of its 2019 production line-up, "The Bar Plays," a two-play series including productions of Tennessee Williams' Small Craft Warnings and The Time Of Your Life by William Saroyan, performed in repertory at Seattle's historic Washington Hall in the Central District. The two-play series is directed by The Williams Project artistic director Ryan Guzzo Purcell, and will perform August 7-25, 2019 (opening night is August 8 for Small Craft Warnings and August 16 for The Time of Your Life) in Washington Hall's Lodge Room. Tickets are on sale now at TheWilliamsProject.org and every performance of both productions offers the pay-what-you-can ticketing option.
The Williams Project always aims to find new ways to welcome diverse audiences into the theatre. One of their strategies has been to build unconventional theatre spaces, creating environments that disrupt expectations around traditional arts attendance and feel welcoming to audience members who don't usually go to the theatre. The company settled on this season's immersive setting because "bars have a way of making people feel at home," Purcell says. While Washington Hall's venue space is not an actual bar, it will be transformed into one for the run of these shows, and the experience will offer audiences a bar-like feel, complete with a fully stocked, working bar in the theatrical space.
"When I had just turned 21, I would go to the Beacon Tavern. It was such an interesting mix of folks: Old vets coming from the nearby VA for a beer, Beacon Hill regulars playing dice on the bar, construction workers, young hipsters. Bars grow out of this 'public house' tradition, and have an incredible power to make all kinds of people feel welcome," Purcell reflects. "It's always been a part of The Williams Project's mission to find new avenues to welcome diverse audiences into the theatre, creating a fuller and more engaged community conversation. The fact that I'd experienced that feeling in bars, and the fact that these two American masterpieces exist that look really poetically at how people build community, made me want to try to create a space that combined a bar and a theatre. To recreate a true 'public house.' Partnering with Washington Hall, we're really excited to create a working bar where folks can come, have a drink, meet new and old friends, and also experience profound stories of human community."
Although The Williams Project is best known for a more overtly political body of work, this season the organization has taken a different tack with these slice-of-life stories. "For me, these are plays about what community looks like and how we treat each other in the midst of uncertainty and catastrophe," Purcell said. "As always, The Williams Project aims to do these plays in a way that makes these questions contemporary, complex, and urgent. One of the reasons these plays feel so relevant right now is because the people in these plays are struggling the same way our community is struggling. In these plays there are homeless folks, addicts, alcoholics, and folks struggling to make a living. But instead of making these people 'problems' or 'issues,' these plays do the more remarkable thing of allowing them their full humanity as our neighbors, friends, lovers, and family."
The Williams Project is a theatre ensemble that strives to make theatrical excellence accessible to diverse and engaged audiences, while paying artists a living wage. This year's company features performances from Kemiyondo Coutinho (Lady in WP/Intiman Theater's Orpheus Descending), Richard Prioleau (WP's Orpheus Descending; Seattle Rep's A Raisin in the Sun), Dedra D. Woods (Intiman's Wedding Band and Wild Horses; WP's A Bright Room Called Day), Max Rosenak (WP's Blood Wedding and Blues for Mister Charlie), Lamar Legend (Strawberry Theater Workshop's Take Me Out and Everybody; Intiman Theater's Barbeque), Lee LeBreton (WP's A Bright Room Called Day and Blues for Mister Charlie), Madeleine Lambert (Geva Theatre Center and Syracuse Stage's The Humans; Trinity Rep's Steel Magnolias), and Grant Chapman (WP's A Bright Room Called Day and Blues for Mister Charlie).
The complete creative team includes Ryan Guzzo Purcell (Director), An-Lin Dauber (scenic and costume designer), Aaron Norman (music director), and Reggie D. White (Associate Director).
Since the ensemble's founding in 2014, The Williams Project has brought epic, accessible theatre to more than 5,900 audience members in Seattle and Longview, WA. In five seasons, The Williams Project has produced Tony Kushner's A Bright Room Called Day (Hillman City Collaboratory, 2018), Federico García Lorca's Blood Wedding (Equinox Studios, 2018), James Baldwin's Blues for Mister Charlie (Emerald City Bible Fellowship/Franklin High School, 2017), and Tennessee Williams' Orpheus Descending (Intiman Theatre, 2015) and The Glass Menagerie (Café Nordo, 2016). The company also has developed and shared workshop productions of Shakespeare's Henry VI (2014) and Suzan-Lori Parks's In the Blood (2015). Orpheus Descending was included on The Seattle Times list of the top ten theatre productions of 2015 and named the best play of the year by BroadwayWorld.com - Seattle. The Stranger called the 2017 production of Blues For Mister Charlie "profoundly good theater" and Misha Berson called it one of the year's "best productions" in The Seattle Times Footlight Awards column. In 2017, they moved to an entirely pay-what-you-can model of ticketing, working to remove barriers to artistic participation.