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Speak Up! Urban Development in Belltown

May 9th, 2012 by Seattle Repertory Theatre

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Our current production of Bruce Norris’ Pulitzer Prize-winning, Tony-nominated Clybourne Park explores issues of race, gentrification, and real estate. And while the play itself may be set in a fictional Chicago neighborhood, we recognize these issues’ relevance to Seattle’s own growth and development.

In an effort to start a conversation about these topics at home, we put together the Speak Up! series, which offers community members the chance to discuss the themes of the play as they relate to Seattle. Each discussion is held after Saturday matinee performances of Clybourne Park at Seattle Rep and features a panel of civic leaders, local academics, and community residents.

One of our Speak Up! panelists, Elizabeth Campbell, President of the Belltown Community Council, volunteered to participate in all three Speak Up! discussions, and was gracious enough to share more of her thoughts on the impact of urban development in Belltown on our blog.

Read on to learn more.

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Seattle Repertory Theatre

Join us for Clybourne Park’s Speak Up!

April 25th, 2012 by Seattle Repertory Theatre


Join us for Speak Up! Community discussions that give you the chance to speak your mind.

Seattle Rep invites audiences to participate in lively post-play discussions with civic leaders, local academics, and community residents, as part of the new Speak Up! series. The conversation will begin after each Saturday matinee of Clybourne Park: April 28, May 5, and May 12 at 2:00 p.m.

Why are we holding Speak Up!?

Key themes of gentrification and race relations in Bruce Norris’ Pulitzer Prize-winning Clybourne Park, currently running at Seattle Rep, resonate with Seattle’s history. While the play itself my be a satirical spin-off of Lorraine Hansberry’s A Raisin in the Sun that takes a jab at race and real estate in a fictional Chicago neighborhood, the story relates to a wider audience. 

As playwright Bruce Norris explains, “This story is not necessarily an American story; it’s actually a story about cities. It is a story that we associate with the 1950s and today—the story of gentrification. It’s a universal story that isn’t about American black/white history. It’s about territory, and disputes over territory because of ethnicity or differences.”

To whet your appetite, we asked a few of our panelists to weigh in on Speak Up! and why our community should talk about race and gentrification issues we’re witnessing on a local and/or national scale. 

The Panelists Say….

“I agreed to participate in Speak Up! because I want to communicate effectively for Belltown as a community/neighborhood. Also because living in Belltown informs a deep understanding of the unintended consequences of “gentrification”/urban residential development: by encouraging public engagement, I hope to gently promote the concept of intentional community.”

-Elizabeth Campbell, Belltown Community Council

“Community is not only where we live and work but who we are and where we belong. Community is about the relationships we develop and sustain with each other and how we treat each other.

-Mike Chin, Seattle Office for Civil Rights

“Conversations about race are ubiquitous in American society. Even when we’re not talking about race we’re talking about it. Talking about race can be easy or difficult dependent on the context. The two biggest impediments to having meaningful conversations about race are fear and ignorance. White Americans have been trained not to discuss race, because to discuss race is to be racist. As a result, negative emotional experiences emerge when engaging in this conversation. Ignorance comes into play when we think all conversations about race are equal. Talking about race is like talking about sex. You can have discussions in bars, locker rooms, a doctor’s office or a classroom. However, each conversation is different based on knowledge and expertise. Our egalitarian approach to these discussions often leads to frustration and conversation. We have to teach our children to talk about race.

-Dr. Max Hunter, John Perkins Center for Reconciliation, Leadership Training and Community Development

Don’t miss out on the conversation!

Seattle Repertory Theatre

Women of Note: Female Spies You Should Know

April 20th, 2012 by Seattle Repertory Theatre

Kirsten Potter as Aphra Behn in Seattle Rep's production of Or,. Photo by Chris Bennion.

Ever heard of Aphra Behn—the first professional female playwright who was also a spy? She’s the protagonist of our current production of Liz Duffy Adams’ Or, which has it’s final performance this Sunday afternoon. 

As Adams explains it, Aphra Behn came from a modest background, but formed bonds with the aristocratic family for which her mother served as a wet nurse. Behn educated herself by using their extensive library and later developed connections that would land her a job spying for the English crown in the 1660s. Her life, by modern day standards, was certainly unique. She was widowed in 1667, ended up in debtor’s prison during her espionage career, and wrote over a dozen successful plays, as well as verse and fiction.

But Aphra Behn is not the only female spy who’s made her mark on history. Here’s a brief list of these notable women, including a link to find out more about their stories:

Belle Boyd (aka “La Belle Rebelle”):

Belle Boyd helped spy for the Confederacy during the American Civil War. While living in Martinsburg, Virginia, Belle mingled with the Union officers who were occupying the city and relayed the information she learned to the Confederates. She is best known for warning Confederate General Stonewall Jackson about the Union’s intention to blow up all of Martinsburg’s bridges, which allowed Jackson and his troops to drive out the Union soldiers before they could carry out their plan.

Mata Hari: 

Born in the Netherlands, Mata Hari posed as an Indian exotic dancer during World War I. While well-known during her time, doubt has been cast on the extent of her espionage career. Statements supposedly made by Mata Hari herself insinuate that she agreed to serve as a French spy in German-occupied Belgium, but didn’t mention her conflict of interest to the French government (a.k.a She was already spying for Germany). The French suspected her double-dealing and arrested Hari in February of 1917 and convicted her of espionage; she was executed shortly thereafter. Later in 1930, the German government publicly exonerated Mata Hari and French documents revealed that she was probably innocent. 

Mata Hari: Exotic dancer, courtesan, and spy.

Noor Inayat Khan:

Considered an Allied heroine of World War II, Noor Inayat Khan worked in England’s Women’s Auxiliary Air Force (WAAF) and became a spy for Britain’s Special Operations unit based out of Paris, France. She was eventually arrested and interrogated by the Gestapo who sent her to a German prison and later to to the Dachau concentration camp when she refused to speak. She was executed by the Nazi SS in 1944. She was awarded the George Cross medal posthumously in 1949. 

Julia Child:

Bet you weren’t expecting to see this name on the list! But Ms. Child, best known as the chef, author, and TV personality who introduced French cooking to the American populace, was also a top secret researcher for the Office of Strategic Services (the forerunner of the CIA). One effort of her research involved helping reduce the threat of Nazi Germany’s deadly submarines, the U-Boats. 

Want to know about more female spies throughout history? Other notables to check out are Elizabeth Van Lew and Sarah Emma Edmonds (a.k.a. Frank Thompson). 

And while you’re at it, come see Or, for an inventive and delightful spin on Aphra Behn’s life. Only four performances left! Friday, 4/20 @ 7:30 p.m., Saturday, 4/21 @ 2 p.m. & 7:30 p.m., and Sunday, 4/22 @ 2 p.m. Click here to buy tickets. 

Seattle Repertory Theatre

Seattle’s Ch-ch-changes Competition

April 12th, 2012 by Seattle Repertory Theatre

Look around you. This is your home, your street, your neighborhood, your community. Now blink. It’s 50 years later and everything looks a bit different.

Whether we like it or not, change happens. Clybourne Park (which runs Apr. 20-May 13) is a play that tackles that very concept. The play begins in 1959 as a black family moves into a white enclave. Act Two takes us back to the same house in 2009 as gentrification sets in and the roles are reversed. Quite a big transition for that neighborhood, indeed.

But we’re interested in looking at our own front yard. What changes do you think have greatly impacted our Seattle community over the past 50 years? And how do you feel about it?

Maybe you have a strong opinion about Southlake Union’s transformation from “single-story storefronts and cheap apartments to a vertical urban village of cubicle farms and lofty condos.” Or maybe you want to talk about the impact of the Space Needle, undoubtedly the international icon of Seattle. What do you think our iconic image would have been without it?  You could even get creative and highlight an example of our unwillingness to allow change (remember Edith Macefield?)

Whatever story inspires you, tell us about it.  You could write us a comment, post a picture, link to an article, make a video, etc. Show us through your eyes how you see Seattle evolving around you and tell us what you think about it.

Entries can be posted on our blog, Facebook, or Twitter. The best entry will be selected on April 24th and the winner will receive 4 tickets to see Clybourne Park and a drink on us. So put on your thinking cap and tell us about Seattle and its ch-ch-changes.

Seattle Repertory Theatre

What did you think of Clybourne Park?

April 10th, 2012 by Seattle Repertory Theatre

Our final show of the season, Bruce Norris’ Pulitzer Prize-winning Clybourne Park, begins next week with preview performances starting April 20 and opening night on April 25. We’d like to give you a place to share your thoughts about the show.

So what’d you think of this razor-sharp new satire? Did you resonate with some of the viewpoints expressed in the play about issues of racism, real estate, gentrification, and being (or not being) politically correct? Leave a comment on this post and let us know how you feel.

Seattle Repertory Theatre

August Wilson Monologue Competition Tonight!

April 3rd, 2012 by Seattle Repertory Theatre

Watch our video! Public Programs Manager, Fran Kao, and School Programs Manager, Scott Koh, give you the low-down on the August Wilson Monologue Competition.

The time has finally arrived…

The regional finals of the August Wilson Monologue Competition take place tonight at 7:30 p.m. at Seattle Repertory Theatre!

Ten finalists compete in a public competition for the chance to win cash prizes and a trip to New York City to participate in the National Finals on Broadway at the August Wilson Theatre in May 2012. This is the second year this competition has been offered in Seattle, the place where August Wilson called home and did much of the writing for his famed 10-play Century Cycle.

So basically what we’re saying is…if you had plans already tonight, cancel them! And then come on down to Seattle Rep to watch some of the finest young talent perform the words of one of America’s greatest playwrights. (And it’s free!).

Tonight’s contestants represent various Seattle area high schools. Here’s a list of the competitors, what high schools they represent, their year, and the August Wilson play and character they’ve chosen for their monologue:

  • Ani, South Kitsap High School, senior, Fences, Rose
  • Zachery, South Kitsap High School, senior, King Hedley II, King Hedley II
  • Anika, The Northwest School, sophomore, King Hedley II, Tonya
  • Drew, South Kitsap High School, senior, Two Trains Running, Wolf
  • Stacey, Timberline High School, junior, Gem of the Ocean, Black Mary
  • Ben, Roosevelt High School, senior, Radio Golf, Sterling Johnson
  • Melissa, Garfield High School, junior, Fences, Rose
  • Xavier, Timberline High School, senior, Fences, Troy
  • Ashley, South Kitsap High School, junior, King Hedley II, Tonya
  • Dylan, Tacoma School of the Arts, junior, Seven Guitars, Floyd

Please join us in cheering them on!

Tonight’s panel of judges includes cast members of Seattle Rep’s upcoming production of Clybourne Park: Suzanne Bouchard, Teagle F. Bougere, Peter Crook, Marya Sea Kaminski, and Kim Staunton. 

Tickets are free and required for admission. For ticket reservations, call the Seattle Repertory Theatre Box Office at 206-443-2222 or toll-free at 877-900-9285. Tickets are not available online.

Seattle Repertory Theatre

Q&A with Actor Basil Harris: Mastering the Costume Quick Change

March 30th, 2012 by Seattle Repertory Theatre

Basil Harris as Lady Davenant in Or, at Seattle Repertory Theatre. Photo by Chris Bennion.

Basil Harris is a very funny guy. He’s also a very busy one in our current production of Or, by Liz Duffy Adams, playing no less than three different characters in a three-person cast. This involves a series of lightning-quick costume changes for Harris and his dressers, not to mention the challenge of switching back and forth between royalty, revolutionary, and the widow Davenant, the woman who produced playwright Aphra Behn’s first play.

REP: Your quick changes must be somewhat nerve-wracking. How do you remain calm?

Basil: I don’t really have a choice: I stay focused and trust the backstage crew to do their work or I freak out, miss my entrance and screw up the show. Besides, I truly believe that if you rehearse drunk you need to do the show drunk. I think most actors would agree with me there. (Rep note: He’s kidding. Honestly.)

What’s the experience of working with dressers like?

It’s very very humbling. I now know what my 4-year-old daughter must feel like when we’re trying to get her out of the house quickly. There’s a lot of urgent, whispered instructions for me to turn around, put my arms out, take that off, put this on, hold still for wig adjustment—it’s like a NASCAR pit crew back there. The dressers and backstage crew are incredible. This show would actually fall apart without them. And not in a funny way.

Basil hams it up for Seattle Rep both on stage and off!

What’s it like switching not just characters but genders in this show?

I wish I could say I spent a lot of time studying rich, widowed arts patrons of the 17th century… the truth is that in this show, playing a woman uses the same acting muscles as playing any other character—using gesture, posture, vocal style, and other very simple triggers that help me drop into character very quickly. I don’t have a lot of time to get very deep into character between changes and luckily she’s not a particularly deep

character. It’s still important, though, not to just make her a caricature or the standard dude-in-a-dress gag. Allison’s been very vigilant about keeping us honest with our choices, even if some of them are a bit ridiculous.

Have you ever played a character of the opposite gender before?

I played an Italian transvestite in a short film a couple of years ago. It was… educational.

What’s the biggest challenge?

In that case, learning Italian. And walking in 4-inch heels.

Seattle Repertory Theatre

Creating the Perfect Costume Cocktail for Or,

March 22nd, 2012 by Seattle Repertory Theatre

Click "Play Video" to hear Costume Designer Catherine Hunt describe the costumes for Or,.

What happens when you take fashion cues from 1660s Restoration England, 1960s & 1970s Glam Rock, and a little bit of high fashion and shake them all together? One heck of a Costume Cocktail. (And some elaborate and sexy costumes to boot!)

Hear Costume Designer Catherine Hunt talk about creating the perfect “Costume Recipe” for our upcoming production of Or, which is a Restoration Comedy with a twist. It’s a playful farce about England’s first female professional playwright (and spy!), Aphra Behn, and is a rush of mad-cap antics, gender bending, and rollicking intrigue. It runs March 23 – April 22, 2012 in our Leo K. Theatre.

We’ve been pumped about the costumes for this show for months now given it’s eclectic mixing of styles and the demanding “quick changes” it poses for its actors. So now let’s hear the expert talk…on to Catherine Hunt!

Last year's gala: setting the tables.

Armed with a cup of piping hot tea and my iPad, the first order of business after the alarm jolts me out of bed is to check my email. A quick glance usually gives me a good idea of just how crazy the day is going to be! Then off to the theatre I go.

Though the Gala is a one-night event (this year’s “Repartee” is on Friday, March 30th here at the Rep), months of preparation go into it, and involve Board members, Rep staff, vendors and generous donors, all playing their part in the one main fundraising event in the Rep’s year.

Today will be a hodgepog of meetings (How much load-in time will we need for the lobby window treatments? Should we go with turquoise or bella lagoon blue sheers on the alternating table tops? When will Kevin Kling and Simone Perrin be arriving in town?) along with lots of final reviews of outstanding vendor contracts. And of course, there’s an update phone call to David Silverman, the most requested auctioneer in the city of Seattle, who, once again, will be the man who keeps us zipping along through the event.

But the highlight of my day is the visit to Dressing Room #6 while our Gala Costume Designer, Costume Shop Intern Corey Davis, works alongside Joyce Degenfelder, Wig Master and Chelsea Blum, Assistant Costume Shop Manager to do a hair and makeup workshop for the Gala interns who will be right in Mad Men-style on the night of our event, rocking the garb of the early 60’s and doing their part to get guests into a swinging and festive 1962 mood!

Let’s see some hairdos, shall we?


The key to 60s hair? Teasing, rollers, and hairspray. Lots of hairspray.

And After:

Seattle Rep Interns enjoy their 60s hair makeover.

And then, of course, there’s those auction packages we’re finalizing. The big reveal won’t actually happen until the auction catalog goes out to guests this Friday, but let me give you some hints… New York. LA. DC. The Good Wife. Instant Wine Cellar. Tom Cruise. Majestic Bay. Sean Griffin. Jon Cryer. Have I peaked your interest? How could it not?

Well, now it’s time for me to sell some more tickets. Have you ordered yours yet? Well, what are you waiting for? Call me at 206-443-2210 ext. 1026 or visit our web page at for more details.

And if the Gala is not really your thing, why not join us for the After Hours Night Club from 9pm-midnight? For $50 per ticket, you’ll have cocktails, hors d’oeuvres, dancing and music by a fab DJ, and don’t forget the gaming! Black Jack, Craps, Roulette, Texas Shoot-Out, all for a chance to win a door prize for a 3-day, 2 night stay at a Casino Hotel or a Seattle Segway Adventure for 2! Don’t spend Friday night at home, come play with us!

Well, there’s less than three weeks to go until the Gala, and there’s still so much to do, so I’ll be signing off now. Hope we see YOU at this year’s Gala!

The 2012 Gala will be on Friday, March 30th at the Seattle Rep Theatre. Cocktails from 6pm-7:30pm in the Lobby and Rotunda; Dinner onstage in the Bagley Wright Theatre from 7:30pm – 9pm; After-Hours Night Club in the Lobby and Rotunda from 9pm – midnight. For details and ticket pricing, visit our web site at

Karen Sharp is Seattle Rep’s Gala Coordinator.

Seattle Repertory Theatre

What did you think of Or,?

March 15th, 2012 by Seattle Repertory Theatre

No really, what'd you think? We'd love to know!

The opening night of Or, is right around the corner! Preview performances start next week on Friday, March 23, and opening night takes place Wednesday, March 28, and we’d like to give you a place to share your thoughts about the show. So what’d you think? Leave a comment on this post and let us know how you feel.

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