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
By Josh Conkel
Directed by Ali el-Gasseir
The first production that will take place in 12th Ave Arts will be the world premiere of Josh Conkel’s darkly hilarious new black comedy, Sprawl. Cornish Alum and Playwright of the Ensemble’s Season 8 smash success Milk Milk Lemonade, Conkel’s Sprawl nestles a group of friends and frenemies in a Washington suburban model home for a book club meeting, only to be interrupted by… THE-END-OF-THE-WORLD. Part Mars Attacks and part Serial Mom, the brutally-campy Sprawl reminds us that beneath suburban tranquility, nasty secrets are waiting to emerge that are as wicked as they are hilarious.
By Meg Miroshnik
Directed by Kelly Kitchens
The Tall Girls by Meg Miroshnik (Season 9 Playwright of critically-acclaimed The Fairytale Lives of Russian Girls) is a grim Dust Bowl era tale of a struggling high school women’s basketball team in the small town of Poor Prairie. The Tall Girls follows this group of young women as they strive for escape from their isolating and vast “grave town” through any means necessary. Intimate and gripping, The Tall Girls asks: what is the real cost of mortgaging your dreams for a meal ticket?
Curated by Washington Ensemble Theatre and ACT’s Associate Artistic Director John Langs and Literary Manager Anita Montgomery, Construction Zone provides playwrights with opportunities to develop and share new work, while giving audiences a personal invitation into the process. One of the four plays read during the current Construction Zone season at ACT will be given a full Co-Production at ACT Theatre’s Bullitt Cabaret.
Created and Performed by Jonah Von Spreecken & Ali Mohamed el-Gasseir
The fourth installment of Von Spreecken and el-Gasseir all-ages weekend morning live-action cartoon series follows two German rabbits trapped on a “R.A.F.T.” attempting to cross the Atlantic to find their fortunes in America. This epic adventure pits bunny versus bunny on a harrowing journey. Will they survive sharks, squabbles, and the Bermuda Triangle or will an even greater mystery sink these two industrious bunnies? Stay tuned!