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Announcing our 75th Anniversary Season

Submitted by Katrina M Ernst on June 15, 2015 - 11:50am

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The University of Washington School of Drama Announces 75th Anniversary Season

UW Drama’s 2015-2016 season highlights its deep connections to Seattle’s theatre community

SEATTLE, WA— The University of Washington School of Drama, under the leadership of Executive Director Todd London, is proud to announce its 75th Anniversary Season. This historic season will celebrate, honor, and build upon the School of Drama’s deep connections to Seattle’s theatre community and serve as a bridge between the School’s rich history and its future. The season features the presentation of more than 19 plays in various stages of development, from readings to workshops to full productions. Many of these plays will be collaborations and/or co-productions with theatres that have grown out of the School or been significantly impacted by the School’s alumni, including ACT Theatre, Azeotrope, Oregon Shakespeare Festival, PearlDamour, Seattle Repertory Theatre, Seattle Children’s Theatre, Washington Ensemble Theatre, and more. Commemorative celebrations and engagement opportunities will occur throughout the year, culminating in an all-class reunion May 7-9, 2016.

The season also highlights a shift in the Schools’ public programming. In place of a traditional season of 5-6 plays, this will be a varied and diverse season that fosters new play cultivation and prominently features the creative work of women and people of color. The season includes plays by Clarence Coo, Oni Faida Lampley, Kia Corthron, Melissa James Gibson, Karen Hartman, Taylor Mac, Philip Kan Gotanda, and Yussef El Guindi, as well as devised work and community engagement performances with the Obie Award-winning collaborative team PearlDamour.  Directors include Valerie Curtis-Newton, Chay Yew, Kurt Beattie, Rita Giomi, Desdemona Chiang, Ali El-Gasseir, and others.   

“This celebratory season demonstrates the School of Drama living up to our mission of creative leadership,” states London. “It is an ambitious undertaking that will bring our regional theatre community together in an unprecedented way with the goals of championing new and diverse voices, and nurturing the next generation of theatre artists. Most importantly, it provides unique learning opportunities for our students, undergraduate and graduate, as they create with and learn from artists, arts leaders, audiences, and institutions across the city.”

Single tickets go on sale September 10, 2015 and range from $8-25 with discounts for students, seniors, UWAA, and UW employees. Tickets will be available online or over the phone through the ArtsUW Ticket Office, 206-543-4880 / The ArtsUW Ticket Office is located at 1313 NE 41st Street, open Monday-Friday, 11 am-6 pm.


The Cradle Will Rock
Written by Marc Blitzstein
Directed by Valerie Curtis-Newton
Venue: Jones Playhouse
Performances: October 28 – November 8    (Wednesday – Saturday at 7:30pm; Sunday at 2pm)

Originally a part of the Federal Theatre Project, The Cradle Will Rock is a Brechtian allegory of corruption and corporate greed.  Set in “Steeltown, USA,” the story follows the efforts of Larry Foreman to unionize local workers and combat wicked, greedy businessman Mr. Mister, who controls the town's factory, press, church, and social organizations. 

Written by Joe Orton
Directed by Sean Ryan
Venue: Meany Studio Theatre
Performances: December 2-13          (Wednesday – Saturday at 7:30pm; Sunday at 2pm)

MFA director Sean Ryan tackles Joe Orton’s masterpiece of black farce, which follows the fortunes of two young thieves attempting a bank robbery. 

Beginnings: First Breath
In partnership w/ Jet City Improv
Directed by Andrew McMasters & Mary Lindsey McMasters
Venue: Cabaret – Hutchinson Hall
Performances: December 2-6 (Wednesday – Saturday at 7:30pm; Sunday at 2pm)

Members of Jet City Improv work with School of Drama undergraduates to create an ever-changing show that revolves around the idea of how things begin and the intersection between multiple storylines, movement, and their relationship to time. This unscripted ensemble piece is created new at each performance using suggestions from that evening’s audience.

Brooklyn Bridge
A co-production with Seattle Children’s Theatre
Written by Melissa James Gibson
Directed by Rita Giomi
Venue: Charlotte Martin Theatre at Seattle Children’s Theatre
Performances: February 25 – March 20

This inventive and humorous drama celebrates the making of things—research papers, bridges, community. When fifth-grade latch-key child Sasha can’t find a pen to write the due-tomorrow report on the Brooklyn Bridge she is struggling to complete, she works up the courage to break her mother’s rules and venture out of their apartment for help. There, in view of the magnificent bridge, she discovers a diverse collection of neighbors, each special in their own way but alike in their deep good-heartedness.

School of Drama MFA candidates in the Professional Actor Training Program will be cast in key roles and advanced MFA design candidates will serve as lighting and costume designers.

The Walk Across America for Mother Earth
In partnership w/ Washington Ensemble Theatre
Written by Taylor Mac
Music by Ellen Maddow
Directed by Ali el-Gasseir
Venue: Penthouse Theatre
Performances: February 24-28          (Wednesday – Saturday at 7:30pm; Sunday at 2pm)

Political activism meets bedazzled drag show in this story about two young friends who flee their suburban upbringing in "Real America" to join a ragtag group of activists on a protest march from D.C. to Nevada.

Force Continuum
Written by Kia Corthron
Directed by Malika Oyetimein
Venue: Jones Playhouse
Performances: April 27 - May 8        (Wednesday – Saturday at 7:30pm; Sunday at 2pm)

MFA director Malika Oyetimein will stage Kia Corthron’s socio-political drama about three generations of black police officers in New York. Force Continuum stands as a theatrical criticism of modern day police brutality and the relationship between police and the black community.

…And Hilarity Ensues…
In partnership w/ The Horse in Motion
Directed by Bobbin Ramsey
Venue: Penthouse Theatre
Performances: May 25-29      (Wednesday – Saturday at 7:30pm; Sunday at 2pm)

Plays from the School of Drama’s inaugural 1940-41 season are reimagined in an immersive, multi-media theatre experience. The audience is invited to walk freely through time and space as the historic Penthouse theatre comes alive.

Skies Over Seattle
In partnership w/ PearlDamour
Three separate productions built around and about three communities in the U-District
Site specific performances in U-District communities: May 10-14
Bridge performances in Jones Playhouse: June 1-5

Skies Over Seattle examines the nature of the tiny American individual under a vast shared sky-- specifically, the sky over the U-District in Seattle.  Three world-premiere, student generated performances will evolve out of a year of collaboration and conversation between UW Drama Department students and three U-District communities.  OBIE-winning duo PearlDamour and Engagement Strategist Ashley Sparks guide the creative process.  The new performances will be performed separately for each group before being combined into one installation performance at the Jones Playhouse, co-directed by PearlDamour co-Artistic Director (and UW alum) Katie Pearl and Ashley Sparks.  

School of Drama Public Talks

Seattle Theatre Symposium
Venue: Jones Playhouse
November 2 at 7:30pm

The UW School of Drama PhD program will host a half-day symposium, “Seattle Theatres: Lost and Founded,” examining the founding visions of our city’s art theatres.

School of Drama Lecture Series: Revisiting the New-ness of “New Drama”
Venue: Jones Playhouse
February 16 at 7:30pm

For its fourth annual event, UW Drama’s 2015-2016 Performing Arts Lecture Series seeks to engage scholars, theatre artists and administrators, and the theatre-going and drama-reading public in a discussion about the meaning of “new drama.”

School of Drama Play Reading Series

Seattle Theatres Lost & Founded
In partnership w/ Meany Hall and One Coast Collaboration
Venue: Meany Studio Theatre
September 28, November 9, January 25, February 8, March 14 at 7:30pm

A series of five free, public readings of representative plays from seminal Seattle theatres of the past.  The reading series will pay tribute to inspiring companies no longer up and running: Alice B. Theatre, Bathhouse Theatre, Empty Space Theatre, Northwest Asian American Theatre, and the Seattle Group Theatre.

School of Drama New Play Workshops

The Tale of the Heike
In partnership w/ ACT Theatre
Written by Philip Kan Gotanda & Yussef El Guindi
Directed by Kurt Beattie
Venue: Penthouse Theatre
Performances: January 22, 23, 24     (Friday - Saturday at 7:30pm; Sunday at 2pm)

Written by Karen Hartman
Directed by Chay Yew
Venue: Penthouse Theatre
Performances: January 29, 30, 31     (Friday - Saturday at 7:30pm; Sunday at 2pm)

In partnership w/ The Hansberry Project
Written by Oni Faida Lampley
Directed by Valerie Curtis-Newton
Venue: Penthouse Theatre
Performances: March 4, 5, 6 (Friday - Saturday at 7:30pm; Sunday at 2pm)

People Sitting in Darkness
In partnership w/ Azeotrope
Written by Clarence Coo
Directed by Desdemona Chiang
Venue: Penthouse Theatre
Performances: April 1, 2, 3    (Friday - Saturday at 7:30pm; Sunday at 2pm)

Seattle Rep Writers Group Mini-Reading Festival
In partnership w/ Seattle Repertory Theatre
Dates: TBA

UW Musical Theater Program

The 2015-2016 Season will also feature the second production of the University of Washington’s Musical Theater Program.

The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee
Presented by UW College of Arts & Sciences in partnership w/ School of Drama, School of Music, and Dance Program
Music & Lyrics by William Finn; Book by Rachel Sheinkin; Conceived by Rebecca Feldman
Venue: Jones Playhouse
Performances: January 27 – February 7       (Wednesday – Saturday at 7:30pm; Sunday at 2pm)

About The University of Washington School of Drama

The UW School of Drama develops innovative and courageous artists and scholars poised to be the creative leaders of tomorrow.

For 75 years it has served as one of this country's leading training institutions for theatre artists and scholars. The School of Drama offers MFA degrees in acting, design, and directing, a four-year undergraduate liberal arts education in Drama, and a PhD in theatre history and criticism.

The University of Washington School of Drama History

The School of Drama traces its origins to 1919 when Glenn Hughes, a young man from Nebraska and a recent graduate of Stanford University, joined the faculty of the Department of Dramatic Art, a part of the English Department. Though he came to the UW as a poetry fellow, Hughes soon became determined to create a first-rate drama school.

From 1930 to 1961 this indefatigable man led the Department, which became the School of Drama in 1940. He wrote more than 60 plays, wrote and edited various literary and scholarly publications, launched one of the West Coast's first foreign film series, and established the drama program as the center of theatrical life in Seattle. The University of Washington came to be recognized as one of the leading institutions in the nation for professional training in theatre arts.

In 1961, Hughes retired and was succeeded by Gregory A. Falls. Falls created the Professional Actor Training Program—a prestigious BFA program (now MFA) that placed the School among the nation's top professional acting conservatories and initiated the PhD program in theatre history and criticism. It was during this time that the stream of UW Drama graduates began pooling right here in Seattle. Graduates and former faculty stayed in the city, founding their own theatres and forming the genesis of what is today one of the country's most active and diverse theatre communities.

The School's role in establishing Seattle's vibrant theatre life was seminal. Founders and artistic directors of many of Seattle's leading theatres were first students or faculty at the School of Drama. Greg Falls founded ACT Theatre. Duncan Ross became artistic director of the Seattle Repertory Theatre for a decade. Alum M. Burke Walker founded The Empty Space Theatre and former faculty member Arne Zaslove took over the Bathhouse Theatre. Alum Jenny McLauchlan Carlson was co-founder of Seattle Children's Theatre, considered one of the leading children's theatres in the country, and alum Linda Hartzell is its current artistic director. Ruben Sierra, alum and former faculty member, created one of the country's first ethnic theatre companies, The Group Theatre, which was later led by Artistic Director Tim Bond, a directing graduate of the UW who is now the Producing Artistic Director at Syracuse Stage. The enormously successful Oregon Shakespeare Festival was founded by alum Angus Bowmer. Continuing this tradition, some of Seattle’s newest, most buzzed-about theatre companies were also founded by UW Drama alums including Washington Ensemble Theatre, Azeotrope, and The Horse in Motion.

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