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Meet Playwright Emily Conbere

May 10th, 2012 by Seattle Repertory Theatre

Seattle Rep Writers Group playwright Emily Conbere hard at work.

Last Friday we kicked off the Inaugural Seattle Rep Writers Group showcase with a reading of playwright Vincent Delaney‘s Foreclosure. The new work continues this week with the second staged reading in the series: The Harold Scholarship by Emily Conbere, directed by Erin Kraft. 

About the play: 

After the loss of their son six months prior, Mr. and Mrs. Harold invite the son’s best friend to spend the weekend with them. During this time, they offer him a scholarship with stakes that are exceedingly high.

We asked Emily to tell us a little about herself, as well as her new play. 

SRT: What inspired you to write The Harold Scholarship?
A lot of this play came out of a personal experience that happened ten years ago. Since then, I’ve been reworking and developing it, and it is interesting to see how it changes as I change. I’m aware that after a suicide, family dynamics change dramatically. The characters in this play feel absurd as they act in ways that used to feel traditional to them and now no longer work.

SRT: How long have you been a playwright, and how did you get into playwriting?
I started playwriting when I was twelve and involved in the Playwrights’ Center’s youth summer conference in Minnesota. My first play (ten minutes long) was called “Troubles with Kitty” and it starred Kevin Kling [who performed at Seattle Rep last month with Simone Perrin in A Fool's Paradise]. The whole experience set the stage for the rest of my life.

SRT: What do you like to write about?
I mostly write about loss, and how loss is like a blank world that needs to be recreated. I like being with my characters as they struggle to create and grow new worlds around them out of the emptiness they’ve experienced. And the loss could be anything- a death or the ending of a relationship, loss of time, or something as commonplace as losing a pair of glasses.

Emily Conbere and Vincent Delaney read a working script at a Writers Group meeeting.

SRT: What’s the best and/or worst advice you’ve received about writing?
Best advice: Sometimes you need to be kind of mean and just say “I can’t hang out or talk to you or engage with you” and close yourself off to others’ expectations so that you can get your writing done. It might feel selfish, but just drink a shot of tequila and start writing.

Worst advice: …just drink a shot of tequila and start writing.

SRT: Tell us something quirky about yourself.

I have a career outside of playwriting that I love; it’s been super helpful because now I’m not dependent on getting theater grants (even though I still apply for them) or taking jobs I don’t like to support myself while I write; starting the new career allowed me to fall in love with writing and theater all over again.

SRT: What’s next for you?
I have a reading of my play “The MAP Annual Fellowship Written by Gerald That” as part of the New Century Theater’s Pipelines Series on June 18th.  I’m also spending the summer developing a series of interviews I’m doing of theater companies in the NW for the Seattle Rep Writers Group blog.  The focus is on how they work with new writers. 

Stop by Seattle Rep this Friday, May 11 at 3 p.m. to catch the FREE staged reading of Emily Conbere’s The Harold Scholarship in our PONCHO Forum. Bring your friends and support local theatre!

Seattle Repertory Theatre

The Perfect Match

May 8th, 2012 by Seattle Repertory Theatre

We’re all looking for the perfect match.

And right now, thanks to a challenge grant from the Seattle Repertory Theatre Foundation, any new or increased gift made before June 30 will be matched, dollar for dollar. Your $50 becomes $100, $100 becomes $200.

In the spirit of a good match, here are some matches that never fail to delight:

Ben & Jerry

Seattle Rep’s Managing Director Benjamin Moore and Artistic Director Jerry Manning are a well-made match. Moore joined the Rep in 1985 as Managing Director, and Jerry (who joined SRT in 2001 as Casting Director and later served as Producing Artistic Director) became the Rep’s Artistic Director in 2010. 

Ben & Jerry’s 

Go ahead. Eat the whole pint. 

Bert & Ernie

What would Sesame Street be without these two? (And Ernie’s rubber ducky of course). 

Peanut Butter & Jelly

A match made in heaven. Or at least in our elementary school lunch boxes.

Sonny & Cher

The unforgettable celebrity duo that sold 80 million records worldwide. 

Peas & Carrots

To quote Forrest Gump, “Me and Jenny goes together like peas and carrots.”

You & Seattle Rep

Ticket sales only cover about half of the cost of producing our work. Support the Rep with a gift of any amount: donate during our match and double your impact. For more information on how to donate, visit our website

Thank you for your support!

Seattle Repertory Theatre

Nick Garrison’s German Love Affair

February 10th, 2012 by Seattle Repertory Theatre

Actor Nick Garrison.

Actor Nick Garrison’s love of German history, art, and music began long before he took on the role of Charlotte von Mahlsdorf in I Am My Own Wife.

In his extensive Seattle acting career, Garrison has played everything from  the titular role in Hedwig and the Angry Inch at Re-Bar—a role he went on to play in San Francisco, the U.K., and Chicago—to performing as the Emcee in The 5th Avenue’s Cabaret. Garrison is a veteran of playing German characters for the stage and has always had a strong interest in German history and culture.

“I went to school in Paris for a while,” Garrison said. “While there I studied voice for years and was always very drawn to music from Weimar Berlin. I don’t know why German characters have found me and German culture has kind of haunted me. It didn’t even begin with Hedwig [and the Angry Inch]. It began before that. I played some German characters, I learned early on how to sing in German with some facility—even though I don’t speak German—but I’m learning more German for this show.”

“There’s a vibration of that era, particularly the early part of the twentieth century in German culture, which rests well with me as a performer,” Garrison said. “It was a flowering before the war of incredible ideas and art and democracy and freedom. That soul of Germany is in this play. It’s all over it. And Rob Witmer, our sound designer, is bringing it literally into the room, with some of the beautiful music he’s bringing into the show.”

Nick Garrison in I Am My Own Wife at Seattle Repertory Theatre. Photo by Chris Bennion.

Doug Wright’s I Am My Own Wife holds a special place in Garrison’s heart. After seeing the original production in New York and being awestruck by the play and Jefferson Mays’ performance as Charlotte von Mahlsdorf in 2004, Garrison immediately knew he wanted to do the play someday.


“For me, Charlotte represents German history in a way,” he said. “She is a literal representation of the German soul. Charlotte stands for survival in the face of anything, which to me is what gay people have done and many other disenfranchised groups have done for years. She’s implacable. She’s steady survival, calm survival, and that to me is beautiful. I love her as you can tell, I adore her. I think she’s a hero for the ages. And like most good heroes, she’s a little bit flawed and strange. “

Seattle Repertory Theatre

What did you think of I Am My Own Wife?

February 1st, 2012 by Seattle Repertory Theatre

Opening night of I Am My Own Wife is approaching fast! Preview performances start this week, 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.

Seattle Repertory Theatre

Nick Garrison: 1 Man, 30 Characters

February 1st, 2012 by Seattle Repertory Theatre

Not long after the fall of the Berlin Wall, playwright Doug Wright began a conversation with Charlotte von Mahlsdorf, an elegant and eccentric 65-year-old German transvestite who, against all odds, hid from the Nazis in plain sight as a woman. In the play, Doug Wright uses more than 30 characters—played by actor Nick Garrison—to piece together Charlotte’s controversial life.

Click below to hear Garrison talk more about creating these characters and the rehearsal process of I Am My Own Wife, a play which he calls an “incredible exercise in storytelling.”


5 favorite moments from season sneak peek

September 21st, 2011 by Danielle.Girard

Jerry Manning, Seattle Rep's Artistic Director, introduces the season preview's panel of speakers.

After last Thursday night’s sneak preview of Seattle Rep’s upcoming season, a patron shared with me how the event increased her growing excitement about our upcoming season. I couldn’t agree more. As the new Communications Intern at Seattle Rep, I volunteered to help out with our Season Preview. By attending, I enjoyed the same privileges as our donors and subscribers: the chance to hear intimate details about this season’s productions from seven of the artists involved. Some highlights and insights of the night included:

1. Watching Jolene Obertin, Seattle Rep’s properties director, don goggles and gloves as she discussed the exciting scenic challenges posed by our upcoming production of John Logan’s Red, a Tony-award winning drama about the relationship between painter Mark Rothko and his apprentice. Jolene mentioned the difficulty of stretching canvas, an activity the actors will perform on stage each night, in addition to painting during the play.

2. Learning that Lorenzo Pisoni, the star of Humor Abuse, kicked director Erica Schmidt out of a show he was performing in during their pre-Humor Abuse days because she was laughing too loudly. When she walked back in, Pisoni and his fellow performer decided to duct tape her to her chair. The friendship and artistic relationship that began during their college years led to their collaboration on this season’s production of Humor Abuse.

3. Hearing Erin Kraft, Seattle Rep’s casting director, list – from memory – every actor currently cast for this season’s productions when asked by a patron.

4. Laughing with audience members in anticipation of our Dogs Night Out performance of Sylvia.  If you’re a dog lover, mark your calendars for November 13 and bring your pooch with you to see the show!

5. Listening to Jerry Manning, Seattle Rep’s artistic director, discuss the theme of this season— relationships—and chat about our world-premiere co-production with Berkeley Repertory Theatre of Bill Cain’s How to Write a New Book for the Bible.

I am excited to be a part of the Seattle Rep family. Last Thursday’s season preview only increased my anticipation for this season’s productions. If you want to find out more information about any of our upcoming productions, check out this link:

Also, below you’ll find a list of the entire panel of speakers from Thursday night:

Jerry Manning (Seattle Rep’s Artistic Director and director of this season’s production of I Am My Own Wife), Erica Schmidt (director of Humor Abuse), Elisabeth Farwell-Mooreland (Seattle Rep’s producing director), Cary Wong (scenic designer of Sylvia), Jolene Obertin (Seattle Rep’s properties director), Erin Kraft (Seattle Rep’s casting director), and Braden Abraham (Seattle Rep’s associate artistic director and director of Clybourne Park).


Seattle Repertory Theatre

Jerry’s Guide to the 2011-12 Season

April 12th, 2011 by Seattle Repertory Theatre

We asked Jerry to play “fill in the blanks” about the shows in the just-announced coming season. Here are his answers:

The play that made me cry when I read it is How to Write a New Book for the Bible.

The playwright everyone should keep an eye on is Annie Baker, who wrote Circle, Mirror, Transformation. That play is like watching a brilliant, hilarious independent film on stage.

The play that might win the Pulitzer: Clybourne Park. It’s in the running, and rightly so.

Moment I can’t wait to see on stage: Lorenzo Pisoni flying in and out of a circus trunk in Humor Abuse.

Feel-good play of the season: Sylvia. There’s a reason it’s such a subscriber favorite. You can’t help but love that woman, er, dog.

Audiences think they know, but will be surprised by The Glass Menagerie. This will be a fresh, innovative take on an amazing American classic.

Set I can’t wait to see: Red. Rothko paintings everywhere? It will be gorgeous.

Favorite character: Aphra Behn in Or. She’s a spy AND England’s first female professional playwright.

Seattle Repertory Theatre

Go, Jerry!

May 12th, 2010 by Seattle Repertory Theatre

Yesterday at 5:30 p.m. an announcement came over the Seattle Rep PA: Come to the board room and hear who the next artistic director will be. There was massive breath-holding and palm sweating as we all trooped down to where our board’s executive committee was meeting.

Seattle Rep's new artistic director, Jerry Manning.

Brent Johnson, the co-chair of the Artistic Director Search Committee, stepped forward. “I’d like to introduce you to your new artistic director, Jerry Manning.” As Jerry joined Brent, we all stood, clapped, hooted, hollered. Some of us cried (Kiki). We felt relieved and so excited to know that the man who has been so successfully leading the theatre for the last year and a half is now officially our artistic director, on a five-year contract.

Why didn’t we just hand Jerry the title? Our board felt a real responsibility to make sure we found the best candidate, not just for now, but for the long-term. Jerry has a great track record (this last season was one of the most critically and commercially successful season in the theatre’s history), but both he and the Rep wanted to make sure the fit was right. We engaged a management consulting firm, Management Consultants for the Arts, to help us with the effort. We looked at 50 potential candidates and met with five finalists. Members of the staff were involved on an advisory council, as well as local artists and community leaders.

The final word was one us on the staff were hoping to hear: Yes, Jerry was indeed the right fit.

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