Catching up with New Artistic Director Maggie L. Rogers

A candid conversation with WET’s new AD on Vote Art Vote and what’s new with the Ensemble.

So, uh. How is everything going?

Maggie L. Rogers: What a bananas year to move into a leadership position of a theatre.

Quite the understatement. Tell us more about your first couple of months as AD and who else is on the team.

MLR: When Erin Bednarz (Producing Director), Maria Manness (Managing Director), Joceline Wynn (Director of Administration and Finance) and I all stepped into our new leadership roles in March of this year, we agreed on two pivotal points: that we would run this company with love for the Ensemble and love for the Seattle theatre community. I had a teacher who would always say, “In order to be a good director, you have to love people.” That sentiment has always been my guiding principle when it comes to art-making. It’s also really helped me stay positive as we navigate every new turn, new announcement, new protocol, new restriction. We never got the chance as a leadership team to do a production under business-as-usual circumstances. But knowing that there is a whole ensemble that I get to support and collaborate with as we all collectively weather this storm together gives me great comfort.

What were the initial impacts of the pandemic to WET?

MLR: The global pandemic really took a hold of Seattle right smack dab in the middle of our limited engagement GUSH Series production: UGLY. We were juggling questions like: how many people we should have in the theatre? Should we cancel the show entirely? What safety measures do we need to put in place to protect our staff, our artists, and our audience? Decisions were happening in real-time and, much like everyone, we were scrambling for solutions. We ultimately had to end the run of UGLY early, which was particularly heartbreaking considering the excitement we all had to bring that caliber of performance to Seattle. We poured our hearts into making that show happen and like so many others in our community, we had to turn the lights off on a show that we cared a lot about. Then the dominoes kept falling, including canceling The Strange Case of Dr. Cher and Mr. Donna in May and delaying the line up of shows that we had slated for our 2020-21 season.

So, what’s the next move for WET?

MLR: We’ve been hard at work trying to figure out how we can really flex our technological muscles and explore new ways to create content. Noting that we had to abruptly end our engagement with Raja Feather Kelly (UGLY) in March, he was then on the top of our list of artists to collaborate with and explore what performance means in this new era of art-making. Hence our latest announcement: WET’s first digital production will be the brand new Vote Art Vote.

Tell us more, tell us more!

MLR: Raja and Dani Tirrell are co-curating a phenomenal line up of local Seattle talent who will create new solo pieces for a filmed video performance. Each artist will have the opportunity to defend their artistic expression and urge audiences to remember the power a single voice (and vote) can hold. We’ll showcase all of these performances in one video performance that you can stream anytime between Oct. 15 – Nov. 3. We’ll bring you the same WET commitment to flawless design, powerhouse performances, and stories that demand your attention, now in the comfort of your own home. We hope you’ll join us. Tickets go on sale Oct. 1.

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