Seattle 2018/19 Season In Review by Kate Danley
In 2018, Hedgebrook brought its Women Playwrights Festival to a sold-out crowd at Seattle Rep, featuring new works by Kate Hamill, Kimber Lee, Wendy MacLeod, Radha Blank, and Cheryl West, which were developed during a two-week residency on beautiful Whidbey Island.
Seattle Repertory Theatre also produced a robust season of new works through their The Other Season program, as well as bringing diverse and local voices on their main stage.
ACT Theatre renewed its commitment to local artists through its ACTLab program, which provides theaters and rehearsal space for low to no cost. ACT Theatre has been a generous partner of the Dramatists Guild, hosting our meetings, including our director/playwright “speed date” event, despite struggling beneath a burden of debt. This year, they announced they were debt-free and the community looks forward to many seasons to come.
The Tony Award-winning and much-loved Intiman Theatre also found its way out of their financial woes. Debt-free, their 2019 season features gender parity and new plays by diverse voices.
Seattle Children’s Theatre continues to raise the bar for excellence. Rasheda Ali honored the city by coming out to see SCT’s highly acclaimed And in This Corner: Cassius Clay. With great TYA scripts, high caliber union members, and one of the few on-staff puppetry shops in the nation, Seattle Children’s Theatre is growing tomorrow’s audiences.
The Seattle Public Theatre launched The Emerald Prize, providing a $10k commission for a new play. Those nominated had to identify as a female, person of color, member of the LGBTQ community, resident of the Pacific Northwest, or any intersection thereof. The award was given to Aurin Squire for Fire Season.
Village Theatre hosted the 18th Festival of New Musicals. Featuring five workshop readings, one full production, and the Northwest Songwriters Showcase, it presented some of the most talented musical theatre writers in the Puget Sound to industry professionals.
Taproot Theatre, one of the Seattle area’s largest mid-sized theaters, delved into the National New Play Network to plan their season and brought new voices from outside of the traditional publishing catalogs to their stages.
Rent continues to climb, and we saw the demise of several Fringe theaters. A number of organizations have stepped up to provide affordable space for new works, including Theatre Off Jackson, The Pocket, 18th & Union, and Copious Love. Theatre Puget Sound spruced up their low-cost theaters, UHeights Center Auditorium received a $100k renovation, and city governments have opened several community centers like The Hangar at Town Square to provide free space to residents.
Reading opportunities have exploded, led by Parley, Northwest Playwrights Alliance, Macha, Burian Actors Theatre, Seattle Playwrights Salon, Drunken Owl, and others. The festival scene also grows with The Scratch, Represent!, Bumbershoot, Burien Actors Theatre Playwrights Festival, and the Cornish Theater Original Works program. From the size of the packed houses, Seattle audiences are hungry for words.
Seattle has some growing pains ahead, but the arts scene continues to bring the sunshine to our rainy Emerald City.