Before the Pulitzer, and years before Meryl Streep and HBO, my high school teacher Mr. Pratt was lucky enough to work on the set of Tony Kushner’s Angels in America while it was being workshopped for the first time in the Bay Area. He told me that in those original workshop stagings, you could still see the rope that was used to launch the iconic Angel into the air. For my teacher that rope was everything: a simple gesture that carried with it the physical embodiment of theatrical ambition. Years later when he saw the Broadway production with its high-budget spectacle, elaborate light plots, and big name actors, he felt the production was missing one key thing: the rope. By the time Angels in America became the mega-phenomenon that it deserved to be, that rope had disappeared. It was replaced with hydraulics, pyrotechnics, and cranes – things that a little theatre workshopping a new play could never afford. And while the slick production values were impressive, Mr. Pratt told me he missed seeing the rough edges of a new story fighting to come to life.
At Washington Ensemble Theatre, we believe in the tenacity of new plays. We believe there is something arresting about watching a new play fight to come to life. We took a storefront and 50 old movie theatre seats and produced over 30 regional and world premieres. The playwrights we’ve worked with over the last 9 years have gone on to produce shows on Broadway, and scripted major TV shows and movies in Hollywood. We’re deeply proud to have been involved with the creative beginnings of so many talented artists. The reason we’ve been able to bring Seattle these new shows because we run small, we run cheap, and we run mean. We look for opportunities where most theatre companies only see constraints. For example, we’re never going to own a fancy hydraulic system. Because for the price of one we can bring you a whole season of new plays. But, we’re not too worried about bringing magic to our stage. In our storage closet we’ve got a lot of rope.
Literary Manager and Co-Artistic Director
Bengal Tiger at the Baghdad Zoo
By Rajiv Joseph
Directed by Michael Place
Follow a tiger that haunts the streets of Baghdad searching for the meaning of life. Along with a cast of disgruntled American soldiers, a grief stricken Iraqi topiary gardener and the deranged ghost of Uday Hussein, Rajiv Joseph’s Pulitzer Prize Nominated play takes us on a vivid quest for friendship, redemption, and a gold-plated semiautomatic pistol.
By Michael Mitnick
Directed by Ali el-Gasseir
Set in a future where one can purchase immortality and spend an afterlife in a digital heaven of one’s favorite memories, this soon-to-be true story tackles classic themes of love and death in a world where technological advancements bring infinite possibilities. Half-live action play and half-feature film, Ed, Downloaded is a sci-fi love story for high-tech dreamers.
By Adam Rapp
Directed by Devin Bannon
On a cold Winter night, a precocious and pregnant 16-year-old aspiring writer named Bernadette boards a train to New York City with only a notebook as a companion hoping to find a sense of meaning in an adult world she cannot escape… and to deliver some heavy news to her distant boyfriend. Rapp’s poetic and honest one-woman show takes us headfirst into the brutal realities of young adulthood and the challenging pull between the need to connect to others and the desire to disappear.
By Charise Castro Smith
Directed by Jen Wineman
Charise Castro Smith’s The Hunchback of Seville spins a vividly naughty and hilariously bizarre tale set in Seville in the year 1504. Combining the madcap sense of humor of Monty Python and the poetic grandeur of Shakespeare, The Hunchback of Seville is a knee slapping, anti-colonialist romp examining how our future was sculpted long ago.
By Ali el-Gasseir and Jonah Von Spreecken
The Icelandic Illumination Rangers are on a hunt to find the suddenly missing Aurora Borealis! To bring back the famed northern lights, the Rangers will have to dance around magnetic poles, navigate the Reykjavik synthpop scene, and learn what it really means to be friends. This magical play will teach us all that it’s okay to be scared of the dark…and of the light!
Kids under 12: $5 Adults: $10
Rainier Chapter House
800 E Roy St, Seattle, WA 98102
$70 in advance
$650 – Table Price (a $50 savings!) Seats 10.