RED: PBS News Hour: An interview with Jeffrey Brown


I had the wonderful opportunity to talk with Jeffrey Brown on the News Hour on PBS. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.

Posted in Art, Performance, Preparation, Press, Research, rothko, Theater | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

More RED INK: Press for RED in DC


Press notices and reviews for Arena Stage opening of RED in DC may be found by clicking link below:

MORE RED INK

 

Posted in Art, Performance, Press, rothko, Theater | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

RED: Ink. The Washington Post reviews RED at Arena Stage


THEATER REVIEW

The hues blend evocatively in Arena Stage’s ‘Red’

By , Published: January 29

For all its highfalutin discourse — on abstract expressionism, Dionysus vs. Apollo, the pernicious advance of pop art — the most engrossing moment of Arena Stage’s immensely enjoyable “Red” comes when the two actors dip their brushes into buckets and paint.

The activity in which the superbly matched Edward Gero and Patrick Andrews engage, in point of fact, is priming a canvas half again as tall as the two of them. The priming becomes primal. As the classical music on a phonograph swells, the painters spring into action, splashing on the liquid in great, rhapsodic strokes. The exercise takes on both a spiritual intensity and an almost sexual energy — a characteristic spotlighted when, in the aftermath of the explosive exertion, the panting Gero lights up a cigarette.

The pleasure of the interlude, as constructed by playwright John Logan and conducted by director Robert Falls, is in the way it conveys the full, symbiotic immersion of the characters: Gero’s Mark Rothko, the vain, abrasive creator of all those mesmerizing canvases of migrating mood and undulating color, and Andrews’s Ken, a composite of the assistants who toiled in Rothko’s Manhattan studio throughout his working life, which ended in suicide in 1970.

The sequence eloquently reminds us of a joy we rarely get to see: the artist consumed by the everyday physical demands of his work, an act by which the intellectual and emotional weight of his other concerns — his reputation, his hubris, his self-doubt — is for the moment banished. It looks like so much fun, such a terrific workout, that we all want to get up on the stage of the Kreeger Theater and splatter primer onto the canvas with them. It helps, too, that set designer Todd Rosenthal has conceived of Rothko’s work space as such a vigorously messy environment for genius, and the lighting by Keith Parham puts so luminous an accent on the radiant dimensions of the painter’s works-in-progress.

The convulsive frenzy in which the actors complete the priming is a reflection of other powerful forces at work in “Red,” Logan’s portrait of Rothko in the late 1950s, when the painter was in the midst of one of his most important commissions, a series of murals for the new Four Seasons restaurant occupying the bottom floors of a landmark of 20th-century architecture, Mies van der Rohe and Philip Johnson’s Seagram Building.

How authentically Logan has framed the issues of “Red” is a matter better left to the art world’s keener arbiters. What can be easily deduced from Falls’s production — an excellent successor to the Tony-winning version directed by Michael Grandage and starring Alfred Molina and Eddie Redmayne — is that Rothko has been translated for the stage into a marvelous character. Tyrannical, bombastic, narcissistic, he has a bedside manner you wouldn’t wish on the most cravenly ambitious intern.

And yet, beyond the vision and the artistry, this Rothko redeems himself in a profound yearning to be tested, to discover whether he truly merits a place in the pantheon. Over the course of the play, performed without intermission, Rothko acknowledges anxiety over the pop-art movement that is supplanting abstract expressionism. Ken, for his part, pricks Rothko’s conscience, telling him the Four Seasons commission subverts his long-held values. In the final throes of the drama, after finally letting Rothko have it — decrying his paranoia, self-absorption and lack of generosity — the younger man says he expects now to be fired. “Fired?” the painter replies. “This is the first time you’ve existed.”

Gero, in owlish glasses and unsmiling demeanor, is the resonant embodiment of an uncompromising artist with an overdeveloped sense of grievance. He’s the advocate here for a rigorous, cerebral rationale for art and though it reeks of self-importance, it’s also to be admired. “A generation that does not aspire to seriousness, to meaning, is unworthy to walk in the shadow of those who have gone before,” Rothko instructs Ken. Out of Gero’s mouth, the words have an almost threatening edge — there’s a desperation in this artist’s pronouncements, a poignant need to shout over what he perceives as the noise of a community that’s beginning to turn away from him.

Ken is, in a sense, that community: He’s the voice of that emerging generation, one that sees the consumer culture as a suitable subject for art and won’t yield to Rothko’s definition of seriousness no matter how many tantrums he throws. Compact and muscular, with a gaze as stony as Gero’s, Andrews proves to be an ideal choice for Ken, who slowly uncovers his own reservoir of rage and strength. The actor skillfully negotiates the play’s thorniest narrative embellishment, the story of Ken’s traumatic childhood. In a lesser production, this confessional element might have pushed “Red” into mushier swampland. But the steel in Andrews’s affect keeps the sentimentality at bay.

Both the painter and his assistant know from pain; it’s as certain an ingredient in their work as the pigments they mix into the buckets. Maybe that helps explain why Rothko and his young employee find in the act of priming a canvas a cathartic common pursuit. They don’t simply aim to prime that canvas. They want to unleash the Furies on it.

Red

by John Logan. Directed by Robert Falls. Set, Todd Rosenthal; costumes, Birgit Rattenborg Wise; lighting, Keith Parham; original composition and sound, Richard Woodbury. About 1 hour, 40 minutes. Through March 4 at Arena Stage, 1101 Sixth St. SW. Visit http://www.arenastage.org or call 202-488-3300.

Posted in Art, Performance, Press, rothko, Theater | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

RED: Rehearsal and Previews at Arena Stage – The Hand-off of the Baton


Finally, the day arrived when Patrick Andrews and Joe Drummond, production stage manager of RED at the Goodman made it into National Airport to get back to the play.  Two nights before our first rehearsal. That same evening,  the incredible press coverage continued for the show with an interview on “Around Town,” for WETA, the local PBS affiliate, not in the studio but actually in front of the Rothko Seagram’s murals on exposition at the National Gallery of Art.  Wow.  I wanted Joe and Patrick to feel welcomed to town, so the next night we gathered at my home for dinner. I picked up Patrick earlier in the day and the two of us made a pilgrimage to see the murals at the NGA.

I had set Patrick up. As you walk into the gallery, the first thing you see, is across the portal: a large canvas, a Pollock. Patrick was drawn to it immediately. The installation is set up such that viewers see the Pollock and walk over, not noticing see the three large Rothko’s on the wall to the viewer’s right.  So, Patrick followed the visual cues and  became totally immersed in the Pollock, as I stood slightly behind him and to the right, waiting for him to emerge and turn towards me to his right bringing him into direct sightline of the Seagrams murals. That way, I could see his initial surprise reaction.  Well, he was literally knocked off balance by their power falling backward with a gasp. He laughed immediately, appreciating my visual ambush.  His response was so physical and immediate, as is his work in the play.  We stood there, the two of us, engaging these giant masterpieces in the flesh, “letting them work, allowing them to move.” We stood silent for a long time.  Appreciating Rothko’s brilliance and strength. Appreciating, too, in a silent shared moment, the gift we had been given to reinvestigate, reinvigorate and reenter the world of these paintings vis-a-vis John Logan’ s special play, and Robert Falls’ special production. It was really happening. RED was coming to town.

Happily, because of the long MLK weekend, Joe’s wife, Sarah was able to accompany him for the weekend. So the first arrivals from Chicago settled down at Marijke and my table to catch up and take some shop.

We would have two days on the set for the weekend to re-orient ourselves to the space and the changes to it. And those changes were not insignificant.  The Kreeger Stage at Arena is a smaller house (550) than the Albert (850)in Chicago, a more intimate thrust compared to the more Broadway proscenium feel of The Goodman.  The footprint of the stage house is a bit narrower, and shallower on the backend, but deeper on the forestage area. It took some getting used to the kinesthetic feel of the space. Todd Rosenthal, set designer, had to design an adaptable set.

RED set in The Kreeger

A few feet were lost in the width, so the key working area of Rothko’s bench had now become more cramped, and the moving central easel had less depth to move up and downstage. The effect we felt on the staging was a kind of flattening out. But Joe kept his eye on the blocking  and helped us make sure that we were open to everyone in the audience. Because of thrust stage, the seating plan is a bit curved so extreme left and right on stage is lost to the extreme left and right seats, particularly in the balcony. Joe would prowl threw the theater to make sure sightlines would be accommodated.

The second and perhaps more significant adjustment we discovered was the audio dynamic range. The acoustics in the Kreeger are terrific. The sound is alive and contained, which give Patrick and I an enormously expanded dynamic vocal range. The Albert in The Goodman is a big space to fill up. Thanks to the full ceiling in the set which acts like an acoustical shell throwing the sound out into the house, we had a relatively easy time in Chicago, or so it felt. Now in the Kreeger, with a large portion of the playing area on the thrust and outside of the ceiling, our voices are exposed into the room. The audience feels much closer, as if they are in the studio with us, rather than peering into the space through the large window of the proscenium. Suddenly we felt we could do less. We quickly realized that the project of the previews would be to modulate the playing, calibrating the performances to respond to a smaller, more intimate room.

Kreeger Theater Balcony

A view from the balcony

By the second day we had gone through the play twice. Called for lines a few times, nothing significant, by Sunday evening a full run-thru.  A day off on Monday and designers in for tech on Tuesday. We were at speed in two days.

Two 12 hour rehearsals now scheduled for Tuesday and Wednesday brought in Richard Woodbury, sound designer and Todd Rosenthal, set designer.  The Washington Post Art Section had run a practically the entire section devoted to the show and Rothko, with the banner headline focusing on an in-depth piece about Todd and the “Red Hot ‘RED’ Set.” It was good to see them both. Keith Parham, lighting designer, would come later in the week, so his assistant Gina Patterson would get the lighting effects up to speed.

Todd Rosenthal and Richard Woodbury

Todd Rosenthal and Richard Woodbury

Both Richard and Todd were immediately impressed with the same things Patrick, Joe and I had been – the intimacy and the acoustics. The audience was now inside the studio. Consequently, the use of practical sound out of the record player on stage could be utilized to advantage. The already realistic sense of the evening could now be heightened in the technical aspects. For Todd, because of the slightly more narrow setting, some rearranging of easels, less canvas detritus strewn throughout the space all became important.  Less would become more.

For dinner we all went to the new restaurant two blocks from the Arena,  Station Four. These Chicago foodies were impressed with the meal. When I saw a wine on the list from a vineyard not 5 kilometers from my ancestral village, Cassano Irpino, the sommelier came by to present the wine and began speaking in Italian. It turns out he recently immigrated to this country from Cassano’s provincial capital of Avellino. A paesano in the hood! An outstanding meal. It was the one chance for the team to socialize and it was well worth it.

In the evening, we continued the tech. It had gone so well that on Wednesday we did a full tech run.  That, too, went well enough that Joe decided we could learn little else without an audience present, so we wouldn’t return until the next evening on Thursday for the Invited Dress rehearsal.  By then, Birgit Wise, costume designer arrived.  That afternoon, haircuts were done, notes on clothes given.  It was enormously helpful to have Birgit’s fresh artistic eye on the work we had done up to then.  Like the paintings of Rothko, the remount was happening in layers, “slowly building up the image, until it’s done.”

Birgit Wise, with Vincent Hill, Wig and Hair Supervisor and Ted Stumpf, Costume Shop Manger

The run-thru gave the Arena crew a chance to get another shot at running it.  Speaking of which, the crew at Arena is fantastic. This is no easy show to set up for: heavy on props, quick costume changes, blank canvas preparations, and so on. Since we know where and how everything WAS, it could have been difficult to rediscover where everything needed to BE with changes.

The Crew at Work

Kurt Hall, Arena stage manager who would be taking the handoff from Joe, had seen the closing weekend of the run in Chicago. So now, like running a relay, he and the crew saw the Chicago gang coming in town at speed, and in anticipation, picked up their pace in the two short days of tech to make for a smooth hand off and the anchor leg of the run.

Invited dress went flawlessly. The audience was supportive, but the comedy was a little suppressed. I chalked that up to a more intimate space. Distance creates comedy sometimes. Perhaps it was less than a full audience. Sometimes that inhibits comic reaction. Whatever. The show ran smoothly and we were up and running.

In the ensuing days, we would have three shows before Sunday evening, when Bob Falls would come in to town on the red eye from LA.  He is now in rehearsal for a new Beth Henley play, “The Jacksonian” at the Geffen Theater, starring Ed Harris.

What kind of notes would he give us? Joe had been so encouraging through the week, as was Kurt. Both agreed they were seeing the show they saw in Chicago. So now it would be a final gathering of the artistic team. Keith Parham had seen both shows on Sunday, so we had a little social gathering to catch up. He was surprised by the intimacy. He actually felt too close to the action.

He recognized that was an adjustment from the two spaces, but that his reaction matched ours. Bob was totally encouraging, regaling us, as is his wont, with stories of the rehearsals in LA. His only regret was that he was unable to spend some time and get to see the Rothko’s hanging all over town. It was great to see him, if only for a few moments. It meant a great deal to us that he came in to pronounce his imprimatur for the run. In fact, Peter Marks did a terrific piece that ran today about Bob’s process as a director of late in The Washington Post.

The evening went by quickly. We had already said farewell to Todd, to Richard, now to Keith and Bob. A day off and then the final preview with Joe on Tuesday.  Of course it went well, we have found our stride, the show is within the same running time as Chicago, which it had been since the first run-thru. The comedy is fully there and the houses equally appreciative with their ovations each night.  We are ready to open.

A word about Joseph Drummond, “Old” Joe or “Spicy” Joe as he calls himself these days.

Joseph "Spicy" Drummond

He has been production stage manager at the Goodman Theater for 38 years. This year the Stage Manager’s Association honored Joe with a lifetime achievement award. This accolade rarely is given to a stage manager outside of New York.  I can say, without reservation, that Joe is one of, if not the best stage manager I have ever had the privilege of working with. Never ruffled, always quietly making the world run smoothly, without so much of a snarky, snarly or even weary word. Joe knows when to encourage when needed and always shows concern and fairness for his actors and his crew. More than anything, after such a long and full career, Joe maintains his energy and above all his infectious joy of work. I am deeply grateful to him and proud to say that I have had the privilege of working with him twice now. The two most satisfying projects of my career – King Lear and RED. Thanks, Joe. You prepared us well and handed RED off effortlessly. I hope to have the privilege of working with you again soon.

Now, it’s OPENING NIGHT IN WASHINGTON!

Kreeger House

NEXT: The Run at The Arena

Posted in Art, Performance, Preparation, Process, Rehearsal, rothko, Theater | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

RED comes to DC: National Gallery Installs Seagrams Murals for RED


It is so exciting to be coming back to the play after the two month break since closing it in Chicago the end of October. Although the time was filled with holidays and a run of “A Christmas Carol” at Ford’s Theater, the play remained alive in my bones – and short stubby hair!  I reminded myself of the words from time to time and had the opportunity to read some of the scenes at a special presentation at the Phillips Collection in December. That event happened in between matinee’ and evening performances of “A Christmas Carol.” I took the opportunity to spend some time with the paintings in the Rothko room again, curious to see what perceptions had changed since I saw them last just before rehearsals began in Chicago.  I was surprised to observe that I noticed more of the techniques left behind on the canvasses: the drips, the pieces of brush hair, the splatters. These small details revealed a sense of urgency in the process of making the works, and also a sense of mystery. Why were some of the drips going up, some down? It was fascinating.  With the aid of Klaus Ottman and David Dower, a lively discussion ensued about the play and the artist. Most of the folks in that audience had not seen the play and were comprised of visual art patrons. I was so pleased to touch base with the skin and words of the play again and feeling the strength of the construction of the play on a new audience.

More excitement came with the announcement that the National Gallery of Art had decided to exhibit three of the actual Seagram Mural pieces in their collection to coincide with the run of REd at Arena Stage. I raced down to the East Building to see them shorlty after they were placed on exhibit.  They are remarkable, particularly the large central picture.

Three Seagrams Murals at National Gallery

As you can see, the setting here is very different from the Rothko Room at The Phillips Collection. This is a more open space, the pictures taking up one wall of a room that also contains related works, one by Pollock, in particular. Since it is a more public space, my first visit was shared with some young children running around. Not the most optimal of viewing experiences, but the sheer power of the paintings eventually overcame when the movement and commotion had settled down.

The picture on the far right is recalled in our production. (See below) It’s an amazing opportunity for audiences to have an interdisciplinary experience with the play and the actual pictures.

Harry Cooper, curator and head of modern and contemporary art, National Gallery of Art

Through the good graces of the Arena Stage, I was able to visit the murals a second time accompanied by Harry Cooper and Ruth Fine.  Harry Cooper is curator and head of modern and contemporary art at the National Gallery of Art, Washington. Since joining the Gallery in February 2008, he has organized The Robert and Jane Meyerhoff Collection: Selected Works and initiated a series of focus exhibitions in the Tower Gallery of the East Building on such artists as Philip Guston, Mark Rothko, and Nam June Paik.

Ruth Fine is curator of special projects in modern art at the National Gallery of Art,

Ruth Fine special projects Curator

Washington, DC, and the lead author of a multi-volume catalogue raisonné of Mark Rothko’s works on paper, projected for publication by the National Gallery in 2014.

Together we spent about 45 minutes in front of the three murals, talking about their power, the use of color and their mystery. The striations, the drip marks that go up or down, make definitive statements as to their correct orientation difficult.  But the effect at distance is compelling.  They do behave in much the way Rothko describes them in his writings, which is echoed in Logan’s play: they shift, they pulse, they move threw space. The large canvas in the middle seems convey the most sense of movement and depth. The central dark color lifts and moves toward the viewer, hovering over the orange red background. It’s remarkable in its sense of depth.

Seagrams Mural at National Gallery

On close inspection we saw layers of color which made it difficult to discern exactly how it was done. What layer came first, and so on.  It’s as Rothko says in the play, “You will see many things here… but they are all secret, You cannot talk about any of it.”  There is a mystery about the process of the making of these works, and how he may have intended to install them. There is little mystery, however, in their affecting power.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Afterward, we adjourned to the research area where many of the 800 objects on paper in the Gallery’s possession are stored. Ruth had laid out a recognizable series of miniature sketches, that she explained she was only comfortable in describing them as work “related to the mural projects.”

They appear to this novice as if they could have been studies for the murals, but I was quickly abused of that notion. The works were done after the murals were completed as part of the preparation for the Tate Museum gift.  They are compelling nonetheless.

Sketches related to Mural Project

For me, the most startling were the earlier works on paper, watercolors of familiar scenes to Rothko on Cape Cod and New York. Stunning and vibrant watercolors, figurative landscapes, surrealist pieces with Tanguy horizons, all pulsing with color. Many of the works have never been exhibited. The lack of signatures attest to that.  I was so moved to have the opportunity to see these works in person.  Photos and high res prints simply cannot do justice to the depth and vibrancy of seeing the colors with the naked eye.

Rothko Watercolor c. 1930

I am deeply grateful to Harry Cooper and Ruth Fine for this opportunity to witness the journey of Rothko from watercolor, surrealism, to the “so-called” mature works of the murals.  There is a sense of inner discovery and motion, ranging in style and approach that gives testimony to some inner yearning being worked out in his art.  The visit gave me a real sense of launch to the coming work in the next weeks of bringing RED to Washington.

As I walked from the Gallery along the National Mall, I was struck by something that is characteristic about Washington that I had never noticed quite so clearly before.  Washington is certainly a vibrant city of culture, a great and growing theater community for sure, but it became quite clear to me that the Mall, the central meeting place for American citizens is comprised of monuments to visual art.  Filled with museum after museum dedicated to the vast array of visual art, sculpture, folk art, historical and cultural artifacts, Washington is, at its core, a visual arts city.  It’s the perfect place for audiences to appreciate RED and Rothko.

Audiences will be pleased to know that both Harry and Ruth will be on a post-performance panel discussing Rothko and the play with audiences after the Sunday January 29th matinee.  I am honored to join them for that discussion.

I will also join Klaus Ottman for his post-performance discussion on February 12th.  Klaus will also be giving a lecture on Rothko and his use of color at the Phillips Collection:

Mark Rothko and Color

January 12, 2012, 6:00 p.m., Lecture

Phillips Curator at Large and author of “The Essential Rothko” Klaus Ottmann discusses how Rothko used color as a gateway to the soul. Rothko’s idea that color can express the full gravity of religious yearnings is evident in the Phillips’s chapel-like Rothko Room.

by donation

Throughout the run of RED, audiences will be treated to a post-performance discussion after each Sunday matinee. For more information visit Arena Stage website: RED AT ARENA

Rothkoesque Mural painting at top of show

Seagram Mural at National Gallery

Karl Kochvar, Goodman scenic artist, did an amazing job at capturing the feel and color for Rothko’s work, no?

There will be a very short week before rehearsals being on the 14th of January. I am so looking forward to being with Patrick and being back in the skin of Rothko and Bob Falls’ exciting production of John Logan’s play.  Rothko Madness comes to DC!

Next: Rehearsals at Arena

Posted in Art, Preparation, Process, Rehearsal, Research, rothko, Theater | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

RED: The Run at The Goodman


It’s odd. I have been delaying writing about the run because I have had an incredible experience doing it, and as the time has flown by, I find myself knowing that this is actually the recap of the Chicago run fast coming to a close.  Ironically, an early major snowstorm in the East heralds the closing weekend here in Chicago. There are four shows left of this extension week and it remains fresh and immediate. A sign of a very rich piece of writing, thank you John Logan.

There have been several phases and shifts during the last five weeks.  It began with the days after the gala opening.  That first week of the run allowed for a relaxation and steadying rhythm of the piece. Both Patrick and I became aware of each other, moment to moment in a more intimate way. The audience responses each evening encouraged us. They were consistent laughs and strong moments of tension, but perhaps most characteristic of the response came in a stunning expectant silence from the house. We could hear a pin drop, even in the extended silences that are crafted into the play and into the production.  The audiences were clearly with us every step of the way. So, at first, our playing settled into a confident rhythm. We relaxed into the roles allowing for more attuned listening and responding in each moment, discovering nuance upon nuance in the words and in the dynamic of our relationship.

I had a close friend here for a few days during that second weekend, who saw the show each night for four nights.  I was able to debrief the shows with him. He saw a more interesting and layered performance, subtly changing and growing in confidence and color each evening. I would come to the apartment and explore the ideas that came forward each night, amazed by the richness of the text. It was a very exciting time.

What has struck me most, is that the immediacy of the playing of this piece entirely depends on the energy in the room each night. It has never been a “repeat performance” consistent to the point of mechanical. The audiences’ impact on the tone of each performance is palpable, and continues to feed the character of each evening. Sometimes, the audiences delight in the ironies and laugh right away. That encourages a kind of freedom to lean into those ironies. At other times, the first audience reactions are more stunned by the severity of the relationship, the harshness and intellectual hegemony of Rothko. That encourages a darker tone.  Similarly, Patrick’s energy gives me so much to respond to, and the latitude within the rehearsed structure allows for an enormous range of responses. It actually does happen in the moment. Each night. As the play says, “it ebbs and flows and shifts, gently pulsing.” The playing of it is exactly that. I have never, ever experienced that kind of freedom and immediacy. It’s was a bit unnerving at first, but over time I have come to start each evening with an excited expectancy – “What is it going to be tonight? What are they going to bring.”

About two or three weeks into the run, John Logan returned for another look at the play and participate in a post-performance discussion. He wondered if the play was still satisfying to do. Both Patrick and I were enthusiastic in our response to that prompt, “Yes, no question!”  He said he had seen the growth in our work and was appreciative of it. He was pleased that his American actors were enjoying living inside his words.  As the first American company to do this play, we certainly feel a sense of pride, but also a sense of responsibility.  We are finding American rhythms, American behaviors and finding them for the first time.  Of course, at this point there is now a growing fraternity of Rothko’s and Ken’s across the country and world.  It is deeply satisfying to know that there are now, and will be, many other actors walking the same path that we were given the honor of blazing as American actors.  John was truly delighted to hear his play in the mouth of Americans. At least, he certainly made us feel so.

John Logan, Patrick Andrews, myself at Petterino's. Bob Fall in frame above Patrick

I envy Alfred Molina and Eddie Redmayne the luxury of months and months of playing the piece in England prior to coming to New York. It is no wonder it was a  bigger success in New York, given that time to explore and what I assume to have been a similar experience as ours.  Our show now is richer, deeper, more nuanced and realized than those late days of September.  We mirror the journey of the original company, too, having been given the privilege of transferring this production to Arena Stage in Washington, DC in early 2012. We will come with a wealth of experience of playing RED, looking forward to discovering the play with a new audience in the nation’s capital.

That discovery process went on for several weeks. And then about ten days ago the comfort zone came to a surprising bump in the road, when I found myself dropping three lines that I never dropped before, each in a different scene. Why? Had I become complacent? It was shocking. What I came to understand  is I could not expect there a similar concentration level out of familiarity with the work.  Although it is fully in my body, the “newness” of each night lead me to new ground, so on those occasions I found my self lost, not knowing what comes next, because I was on a totally  new path.  I realized I had to ratchet up my concentration level to be vigilant and awake to the subtle new ground we were traveling. And, as always, the answer came in deeper listening to Patrick and the audience – taking each new stimulus as it came, not simply relying solely on kinesthetic awareness of repetition to produce the next response, because, in fact, they were and continue to be, new responses.

On the other side of that realization has come a new fountain of energy and awareness that leads us to a freedom in the playing.  Like doing duets for piano and cello, Patrick and I have become acutely sensitive to each other. We have developed a remarkable rapport, taking and riffing off of each other’s moods and dynamics each night. It is thrilling.

So now the final weekend of the Chicago run. I am tinged with sadness to let go of this remarkable year long process of preparation, this rigorous rehearsal process, this satisfying run and this vibrant city.  I have seen many people and witnessed explored many pleasure that Chicago offers: some of Mies Vanderrohe’s architecture that precisely mirrors the Seagram’s building; Lake Michigan with 20 foot waves kicked up from 60 mph winds; several plays around town and so many other experiences. I have met and talked with students at DePaul, Northwestern, Illinois State. Friends have visited, some that I haven’t seen for decades, others that flew in from afar to share the play.  I have been able to spend time with my son, Christian, who lives here and works in the theater and music world, engineering music and designing sound.  That has been equally enriching and satisfying, to be able to be dad, in between performances, and enjoy watching his growth as a young man and artist.

Finally, I have to thank the remarkable crew of this production: Stage Manager Joseph Drummond, Floor Manager Johanna Hail,  Properties Supervisor Stephen Kolac, House Carpenter James Norman, Electrics Head Sherry Simpson, Dresser Jenee Garretson, and Sound Op Lilly West. Without their tireless efforts of setting up and running this show every night, none of what Patrick and I have enjoyed, would have been possible. They are first rate.  So is the staff of The Goodman: the remarkable Publicity staff: Denise Schneider, Carly Leviton; Company Manager Erin Madden; Julie Massey, Assistant to Robert Falls. Everyone down to the security team. And, of course, Robert Falls. He, and they, have given me an experience of a lifetime.  I am priveleged and excited to represent The Goodman as we transfer this production to The Arena Stage in Washington.  Thank you, thank you, thank you.

Below a montage of images of crew and Chicago.  Until next time.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Posted in Art, Performance, Process, rothko, Theater | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

RED: Opening Day and Night in Chicago and Beyond

This gallery contains 27 photos.


The magnitude, on every level of experience and meaning, of the task in which you have involved me, exceeds all my preconceptions. And it is teaching me to extend myself beyond what I thought was possible for me.     … Continue reading

Gallery | Tagged , , , , , , | 1 Comment