ACT Theatre has quite the year ahead. An intriguing fall line-up opens to the public to close their 2015 season, and behind the theatre’s doors, Artistic Director leadership will change hands from Kurt Beattie to his successor John Langs, who has been Associate Artistic Director of ACT since 2013.
ACT (originally A Contemporary Theatre), conceived by Gregory Falls in 1965 as a more forward-thinking alternative to Seattle Repertory Theatre, is celebrating its fiftieth anniversary of bringing new theatre to Seattle. The theatre endured a harrowing struggle in 2003, nearly folding, so this moment when the theatre is again thriving is truly worthy of celebration, as is Kurt Beattie’s pivotal role in this. ACT has officially released its September-December line-up that includes two mainstage productions, Bloomsday and Mr. Burns, a post-electric show, whose respective subjects engage with two distinct touchstones of culture and entertainment (Joyce’s Ulysses and The Simpsons, respectively) and the concept of human connection.
The world premiere of Steven Dietz’s Bloomsday will begin the fall portion of ACT’s season. Commissioned by the company and meant as a representation of ACT’s commitment to producing new works, Bloomsday will be Dietz’s eleventh mainstage production at ACT and the culmination of his collaboration with outgoing Artistic Director Beattie. The play takes as its inspiration the annual celebration Bloomsday, wherein Joyce appreciators celebrate his life and work with a tour of Dublin mirroring the events of the epic novel Ulysses (itself based on The Odyssey). Bloomsday audiences catch glimpses of an American man, an Irish woman, and their missed romantic connection at non-linear points in their lives as the man searches for his lost Irish love, becoming a poignant commentary on living in the moment. Directed by Kurt Beattie, and featuring Sydney Andrews (ACT’s Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike), Eric Ankrim (ACT’s Jacques Brel Is Alive and Well and Living in Paris), Peter Crook (ACT’s A Christmas Carol) and Marianne Owen (ACT’s Cat On A Hot Tin Roof ) as its small but stellar cast, Bloomsday’s world premiere promises to transport audiences into a novelistic world of history, humor and heartache. Bloomsday will run from September 11 to October 11 at the Allen Theatre.
World premiere of Bloomsday, by Steven Dietz
Where: ACT’s Allen Theatre (700 Union St.)
When: September 11 to October 11, 2015.
Check the ACT website for times and tickets.
Anne Washburn’s Mr. Burns, a post-electric play will close ACT’s 2015 season, and will be directed by John Langs. One of New York Times’ Top Ten Plays of 2013, Mr. Burns weaves a post-apocalyptic narrative in which survivors have no common connection save one: the “Cape Feare” episode of The Simpsons. Taking this sole cultural marker as their basis for art, the play follows the survivors as they build a new community and attempt to cope with the destruction of their civilization. This dark comedy, which includes a “rap-pop-operetta” of a musical number in its middle act, has captured the attention and imagination of post-modern theatrical minds since its premiere. Mr. Burns runs from October 16 to November 15 at the Falls Theatre. If you like your humor undermined with human extinction or sometimes entertain the idea of what the world would looks like with the complete annihilation of art as we know it, check this one out.
Mr. Burns, a post-electric play by Anne Washburn
Where: ACT’s Falls Theatre (700 Union St.)
When: October 16 through November 15, 2015. Check the ACT website for times and tickets.
ACT’s leadership turnover will be underway by the end of this calendar year. Keep your eyes out for what new Artistic Director John Langs is planning for the company; Mr. Burns will be a good litmus test of his artistic directing style, for those who haven’t experienced productions he completed as Associate Artistic Director. ACT’s fiftieth year has the potential to be one of many positive changes; going into their sixth decade, they seem as strong and forward-thinking as the shows they produce. Cheers to many more years of ACT.