Friday, May 22, 2009

News for the Day

ACT Announces 2009 New Play Award: Sweet Maladies by

Zakiyyah Alexander


Two Staged Readings, June 6-7, Presented by The Hansberry Project at ACT

Seattle, WA – May 20, 2009 – Playwright Zakiyyah Alexander has been named ACT’s 2009 New Play Award winner for her play Sweet Maladies. Two FREE staged readings will be presented by The Hansberry Project in ACT’s Falls Theatre on June 6 at 7:30 p.m. and June 7 at 2:00 p.m. Each reading will be followed immediately by post-play discussions with the playwright and the director, Valerie Curtis-Newton. A special reception will be held following the June 7 presentation.

Sweet Maladies is a riveting new play about four girls (three black and one white) who must come to terms with their new circumstances in the Reconstruction-era South. Set two years after slavery has been abolished, the girls learn to assert themselves in the world that they have inherited and the society they must rebuild. Sharply written and surprisingly funny, Sweet Maladies is a timely investigation into what happens to identity when old shackles are broken and anything seems possible – a question as relevant today as it was during Reconstruction.

Now in its fourth year, the ACT New Play Award is sponsored by Gian-Carlo and Eulalie Scandiuzzi. Their generous support provides for a national call for submissions and a highly-competitive review process. The winner receives $2,500 and the opportunity to workshop their play at ACT.

This year represents the first time The Hansberry Project at ACT, a professional Black theatre company dedicated to producing new and classic works by African American artists, supervised the New Play Award at ACT selection process, marking another milestone for The Hansberry Project/ACT collaboration.

 “Since The Hansberry Project’s inception in 2004, Vivian Phillips and I set out to make a home for artists interested in bringing to life the American stories told by Black playwrights,” said Curtis-Newton. “It is not incidental that more than 80% of our work – mainstage productions, readings, and workshops – has been new plays. We have always been committed to new and emerging voices. Curating the ACT New Play Award provided a wonderful chance to take our deep commitment to the next level.”

Past ACT New Play Award recipients include Yussef El Guindi’s Language Rooms in 2008 which has plans for an East Coast world premiere in 2010 at the Wilma Theater, and has been also been featured in the Ojai Playwrights Conference and selected for inclusion in the Playwright Foundation’s In The Rough new play development series; The K of D in 2006 by Laura Schellhardt which moved on to the Woolly Mammoth, Balagan, and Magic Theatres; and Mitzi’s Abortion in 2005 by Elizabeth Heffron which was later produced as part of ACT’s own 2006 mainstage season.

The Sweet Maladies workshop will be directed by Valerie Curtis-Newton and will feature Lisa Strum, Felicia Loud, Adilia Scott , and Jane May.

FREE Special Events (open to the public; reservations encouraged through the Ticket Office):

June 6 & June 7: Post-play discussions immediately following each performance.


June 7: Champagne toast for New Play Award sponsors Gian-Carlo and Eulalie Scandiuzzi! Join playwright Zakiyyah Alexander, director Valerie Curtis-Newton, and the cast of Sweet Maladies following the June 7, 2:00 p.m. performance as ACT honors Gian-Carlo and Lalie Scandiuzzi.


June 7: Following the champagne toast, the festivities continue with a special reception honoring playwright Zakiyyah Alexander. Learn more about the process of writingSweet Maladies with a special presentation by the playwright.


About the Playwright

Zakiyyah Alexander is a writer and actor. She is the author of Sick (Summer Play Festival), The Etymology of Bird (Hip Hop Theater Festival/Providence Black Repertory Theatre), Blurring Shine (Market Theater of Johannesburg), something new and (900).  A production of her new play 10 Things To Do Before I Die opens in May 2009 at NY’s Second Stage Theatre. Her work has been seen and/or developed at: Bristol Riverside Theater, The Humana Festival, Penumbra Theater, The Bay Area Playwrights Festival, Rattlestick Theater, Hartford Stage, 24/7 Theater Company, Vineyard Theater, the Women's Project, and La Mama Theatre.

Alexander is an award-winning playwright who has been the recipient of the Lorraine Hansberry Prize, Stellar Network Award, Theodore Ward Prize, and Jackson Phelan Award. Her work is included in the current edition of New Monologues for Women by Women, featured in the book of essays, Girls who like Boys who like Boys, and Game on: The Humana Festival ’08 Anthology. A resident member of New Dramatists; past residencies and fellowships include: EST's Youngblood, the Women's Project Writer's Lab, the Women's Work Project, and the Drama League. She has received commissions from: The Philadelphia Theater Company and the Children’s Theater of Minneapolis.  Alexander is a graduate of the Yale School of Drama (MFA in playwriting); currently on faculty at Bard College where she teaches undergraduate playwriting.  She is a native New Yorker and was raised in Queens and Brooklyn.


About The Hansberry Project at ACT

The Hansberry Project makes a rich contribution to theatrical legacy by producing classic and new works developed by African American artists. Now in its fourth season at ACT, The Hansberry Project continues to develop and present programs that draw together diverse artists and audiences through community conversations, staged readings, new play development, and mainstage productions.


About ACT – A Contemporary Theatre

For the past 44 seasons, ACT’s mission has been to inspire our diverse community through theatre that advances our understanding of human life. To dare, excite and enrich artists and audiences. To steward our many resources. Through The Central Heating Lab, ACT seeks to heat things up and create a conversation with its season that reaches for a deeper impact.


And the nominees are…

Excitement builds for the Seventh Annual 5th Avenue High School Musical Theatre Awards, sponsored by Wells Fargo


SEATTLE – The 5th Avenue Theatre is pleased to announce the nominees for its seventh annual 5th Avenue High School Musical Theatre Awards, the acclaimed program sponsored by Wells Fargo and involving scores of schools throughout Washington State. A high school version of the Tony Awards, this program allows drama students from across Washington to meet, celebrate and honor the exceptional musical theater productions presented during the 2008-2009 school year. These awards are designed to shine the spotlight on High School musical theater programs and offer drama students the same recognition that accomplished high school athletes have received for decades.


Since its inception the program has grown in size and scope, from 31 productions and 3,100 students in 2003 to 82 productions and 8,200 students participating this year. 159 nominations were given to 54 schools in various categories and 87 students will receive honorable mentions. Schools from as far as Spokane, Lynden, Sequim and Lacey are reporting back to The 5th Avenue that their involvement in this awards program has significantly helped their individual efforts to secure funding, improve curriculum and increase student participation.


During the past school year, The 5th Avenue sent a team of theater professionals to evaluate each school's production. Nominations are made in 21 categories, from overall musical production to lobby display.


The 5th Avenue Awards will be held at 7 p.m. on Monday, June 8, at The 5th Avenue Theatre. Nominated students and schools will perform numbers from their shows and get a taste of what it's like to perform in front of a packed house. Dozens of high-profile elected officials and arts and media personalities will present awards and show their support for school arts programs. An estimated 2,200 high school students are expected to attend, along with their families and friends. Tickets are available by contacting the drama departments of the nominated schools. The 5th Avenue sincerely thanks Wells Fargo for its sponsorship of this important event for the fifth year in a row.


For a full list of our nominees, visit our 2009 High School Musical Theatre Awards Nominees page at


Tickets for the Awards Ceremony are $27.50 for adults, $16.50 for students, and are available through participating schools.


The 5th Avenue Theatre is Seattle’s premier musical theater. In 1980, the non-profit 5th Avenue Theatre began producing and presenting top-quality live musical theater for the cultural enrichment of the Northwest community. The 5th Avenue Theatre maintains a subscription audience of over 25,000 and an annual attendance of more than 287,000. It ranks among the nation’s largest and most respected musical theater companies. The Theatre is committed to encouraging the next generation of theatergoers through its Educational Outreach Program which includes: The Adventure Musical Theatre Touring Company, The 5th Avenue High School Musical Theatre Awards, and the Student Matinee Program and Spotlight Nights. Unique in its Chinese-inspired design, the exquisite theater opened in 1926 as a venue for vaudeville and film. Today, under the leadership of Managing Director Marilynn Sheldon and Producing Artistic Director David Armstrong, The 5th Avenue Theatre continues to achieve the highest standards in all aspects of artistic endeavors and facility operations, while preserving its artistic, architectural and historic legacy. Visit

In Washington, Wells Fargo has more than 4,800 team members and 240 banking, mortgage and financial stores. Wells Fargo & Company is a diversified financial services company with $1.3 trillion in assets, providing banking, insurance, investments, mortgage and consumer finance through more than 10,400 stores, over 12,000 ATMs and the internet ( across North America and internationally. 

Please contact John Longenbaugh, Public Relations Manager at (206) 625-1418 with questions or to schedule individual interviews. Photos available upon request.


Seattle Repertory Theatre Giant Costume and Prop Sale 
Hundreds of items on sale—June 6 only

Seattle, WA –Stock up for Halloween, find a unique wedding dress, or just add to your closet something you’ll never find in a store. Seattle Repertory Theatre is offering one chance to own—and wear—a piece of theatre magic at their Costume and Prop Sale, Saturday June 6, from 10 a.m.-4p.m. on the Bagley Wright stage.


This is only the second time in Seattle Rep history that the theatre company has opened its costumes and props collection to the public for sale. The last time was in 1974. 

More than 300 costumes, accessories and props from the past 36 seasons will be on sale—everything from Oberon's cape from 
A Midsummer Night's Dream to Queen Elizabeth's gown fromThe Beard of Avon to dresses, suits, wigs and hats. Prices range from $10-$1000, and there are many sizes available. 

In addition to the sale, a dozen of the most elaborate and intricate show pieces will be part of a silent auction. Bidding will take place between 
10 a.m.-3p.m.

Cash, check or credit cards accepted. All proceeds benefit Seattle Rep.


Bartlett Sher Extends as Artistic Director of Intiman Theatre 
through the End of the 2010 Production Season


Acclaimed Theatre for a New Audience production of Othello replaces Sher’s staging of the play this summer as Sher focuses on succession planning; details about Intiman’s multi-year artistic leadership transition will be announced in June


SEATTLE— Intiman Theatre Board President Kim A. Anderson announces that Bartlett Sher has extended as Artistic Director through the end of the 2010 production season. Sher was appointed to the position in November 1999 and currently serves as both Intiman’s Artistic Director and Resident Director at Lincoln Center Theater in New York . Sher will focus on helping to execute a multi-year succession plan for Intiman’s artistic leadership, including working with his successor over the next eighteen months. Full details will be announced in June 2009 


Sher currently has two LCT productions running simultaneously on Broadway: August Wilson’s Joe’s Turner’s Come and Gone, for which he has received a 2009 Tony Award nomination, and Rodgers and Hammerstein’s South Pacific, for which he won the 2008 Tony Award.


“The entire Intiman Board celebrates Bart’s Tony nomination, as well as all his success directing theatre and opera in New York and internationally,” said Anderson. “For more than a year, Bart has been in conversation with our Board leadership about his ongoing role in supporting Intiman’s stability and continued growth. We have developed a multi-year plan for an artistic leadership transition and are looking forward to announcing full details about this next month. Although these are challenging times for everyone, we are excited to move into the future with a team that will include Bart and his eventual successor, as well as Managing Director Brian Colburn and Associate Director Sheila Daniels .”


In order for Sher to focus on Intiman’s future — including the succession plan, a new long-range plan and fundraising — Intiman will bring in the Theatre for a New Audience production of Othello, directed by Arin Arbus, to run on the same dates as Sher’s previously announced staging of the play. Othello will begin previews on Thursday, July 2and have its press opening on Wednesday, July 8 at 7:30 pm.


“Not directing Othello was a difficult decision for me to make,” said Sher. “Ultimately, however, the Board and I decided that it will serve Intiman most effectively for me to focus on our succession plan while giving our audiences the chance to see this production, which is one of the best-received stagings of a Shakespeare play in the last decade. Intiman has a long history of supporting younger directors and exciting new talent like Arin Arbus, and I am glad to give her this opportunity to go ever more deeply in her investigation into the play, much as we did by bringing Crime and Punishment, directed by my associate Sheila Daniels, from the Seattle fringe to Intiman earlier this season.”


“Additionally,” Sher continued, “I have a long and valued relationship with Jeffrey Horowitz, Theatre for a New Audience’s Artistic Director. Jeffrey invited me to stage my production of Cymbeline for Theatre for a New Audience at the Royal Shakespeare Company and then in New York . This is a great opportunity for Intiman to collaborate with the company and create a model for other partnerships we might wish to pursue in the future — something that is particularly important in this economic environment.”


Additional information about Othello will be announced soon.


Full details about Intiman’s artistic transition will be announced in June 2009.


For more information or to request interviews, please contact Stephanie Coen, Director of Communications, at 206.204.3320 [new direct line] or


Seasonal support for Intiman Theatre is provided by ArtsFund; Intiman Theatre Foundation; Kreielsheimer Remainder Foundation; The Leading National Theatres Program, a joint initiative of the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation and the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation; The Shubert Foundation; and Washington State Arts Commission.


Intiman Theatre gratefully acknowledges the following major donors for their institutional support: The Paul G. Allen Family Foundation, Ameriprise Financial, ArtsFund, The Boeing Company, Doris Duke Charitable Foundation, John Graham Foundation, Hafer Family Foundation, Intiman Theatre Foundation, Kreielsheimer Remainder Foundation, The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, Microsoft Corporation, Nesholm Family Foundation, The Norcliffe Foundation, PONCHO, Safeco Insurance, The Shubert Foundation, The Seattle Foundation, U.S. Bancorp Foundation, and WaMu. Additional funding is received from Office of Arts & Cultural Affairs, City of Seattle; 4Culture; Metropolitan King County Council; National Endowment for the Arts and Washington State Arts Commission.


Saturday, June 20 at 10:30PM - Center House Theatre

An Acoustic Evening

with Jesse Sykes and Phil Wandscher

from the nationally-acclaimed band Jesse Sykes and The Sweet Hereafter


SEATTLE - National recording artists Jesse Sykes and Phil Wandscher from the band Jesse Sykes and The Sweet Hereafter will perform a one-night-only acoustic set on Saturday, June 20 following the evening performance of Seattle Shakespeare Company's production of The Tempest.  Sykes and Wandscher composed original music for The Tempest and will perform pieces from production as well as selected songs from their discs with Jesse Sykes and The Sweet Hereafter.


Jesse Sykes acclaimed albums (Reckless Burning [2003], Oh, My Girl [2004], and Like, Love, Lust & The Open Halls of the Soul [2007]), were all recorded with her band The Sweet Hereafter and musical partner Phil Wandscher, co-founder of alt-country stalwart Whiskeytown. Fragile, sometimes desolate landscapes smoldering with American folk idiom, Spin magazine called her work "riveting porch noir."


Characterized by a compelling mixture of longing, darkness, and hope, Jesse and Phil's music resonates, against genrefication, in the parallel worlds of the avant-garde and the timeless. Her voice, saturated with a weathered wisdom, marries with the bands atmospheric beauty in what the New York Timesdescribed as "spellbound music, rapt in fatalism and sorrow."

Tickets to An Acoustic Evening with Jesse Sykes and Phil Wandscher on Saturday, June 20th are now on sale for $20 general admission.  For ticket reservations, call the Seattle Shakespeare Company box office (206) 733-8222 or go online at   Regular box office hours are Tuesday through Friday 1:00-6:00 PM.  During performance weeks, in addition to regular hours, the box office opens Saturdays 1:00-6:00 PM and Sundays 12noon to 4:00 PM. Seattle Shakespeare Company performs at the Center House Theatre at Seattle Center.

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