Blog Seattle Repertory Theatre
Archive for August, 2011
Seattle Rep has a long history of collaborating with some of the country’s most important playwrights to develop the next great works of American theatre. The theatre’s New Play Program was launched under former Artistic Director Daniel Sullivan and then officially re-energized in 2009 by Manning.
“Since the re-commitment to the New Play Program, Pullman Porter Blues is the first project we’ve commissioned that will premiere on our main stage,” 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.”
In 2008, Seattle Rep commissioned West to write Pullman Porter Blues, and the theatre has worked with the playwright through the development process. There have been three workshops at the theatre.
West and director Lisa Peterson continue development of the script through the New Play Program this year. They have assembled a team of actors and musicians to work on the script in its final phases. They include John Aylward, Emily Chisholm, Chuck Cooper, Larry Marshall, Tonya Pinkins, Warner Miller, Chic Street Man, and Pat Hill.Peterson, who directed An Iliad at Seattle Rep in May 2010, has been collaborating with West for the past year on the development, and she will direct the full production. Jmichael is the music director and composer. Originally from Alabama, Jmichael is one of the country’s leading composers of gospel and spiritual music. Essentially a play with music (as opposed to a traditional musical), Pullman Porter Blues is woven with live blues music, played by musicians who are part of the play’s narrative.
Set in 1937 on the Panama Limited train, Pullman Porter Blues centers on three generations of porters working the sleeping cars the night of the famous Joe Louis/James Braddock boxing match. As the train chugs from Chicago towards New Orleans, grandfather, father, and son spar; racial tensions flare; and Midwest blues flavor the night.
Seattle Rep has previously produced four of West’s plays: Birdie Blue, Jar the Floor, Play On!, and Holiday Heart, and they commissioned the gospel musical Rejoice!. West has lived in Seattle since 1999. Her work has appeared in theatres across the country, as well as for TV (adaptation of Holiday Heart) and the web series Diary of a Single Mom.
“We have a long history of working with Cheryl, and it has been incredible to partner with her on such a powerful piece,” said Manning. “I’m proud that Cheryl is one of our own—a Seattle writer. To start our 50th anniversary season with the premiere of this play? I can’t wait.”
See The Agony and the Ecstasy of Steve Jobs in the spring? Have a little table envy watching Mike Daisey tell stories from behind that impressive slab of glass? Well, a piece of theater magic can be yours….
A message from our Properties Director, Jolene:
“I am often asked what we do with props after the production is over. My response is ‘We keep it if we can reuse it’ –which we do with most things’ – but not this time. We want to sell the table we bought from Design Within Reach for last season’s production of The Agony and Ecstasy of Steve Jobs. We don’t use glass tables very often and we do not have the ability to resize it. We are therefore offering to sell it for $500. Below you will find information on the table with dimensions. If you are interested please contact me, Jolene, at the Rep.”
Email: [email protected]