2019-20 Season: Agents of Change
A message from Mathew Wright, ArtsWest Artistic Director
rev·o·lu·tion | \ ˌre-və-ˈlü-shən \
(1) : a progressive motion of a body around an axis so that any line of the body parallel to the axis returns to its initial position while remaining parallel to the axis in transit and usually at a constant distance from it
(2) : a sudden, radical, or complete change
a : a fundamental change in political organization
b : a fundamental change in the way of thinking about or visualizing something : a change of paradigm
Welcome to “Agents of Change,” a season of theater about revolutions and the people who participate in them – in big and small ways, in public and private spheres. We might have called this season “Revolutions” – or we might have used a phrase or metaphor from a famous poet’s work. Instead, in this all too important year, we’ve chosen to dig into our own mission statement for inspiration. Our mission guides us toward using live theater as a powerful agent of change – so this is the year we unpack that idea onstage. In the past few years, we’ve seen massive change in our community, in our city, in our country, and not all of it for the better. Of course, change is nothing new – some say it’s the only thing constant. And at the end of the day, it seems not only constant, but integral.
On every level of our lives, together and independently, growth is always necessary – and without change their can be no growth. We must each be constantly renewing ourselves. This company must always be renewing itself. Our politics must always be renewing itself. Our understanding of each other must always be renewing itself. We hope you’ll join us for a season of theater that probes, interrogates, and celebrates change, growth, renewal – and revolution.
By Dominique Morisseau
Sep 16 – Oct 20, 2019
OBIE and Steinberg Playwright Award-winning playwright
When the tough, independent Nina is visited by her father, a former revolutionary in the Black liberation movement, she can’t tell what he’s after–a fix to their broken relationship, or the cache of letters that ties their fates together. As father and daughter circle one another, old wounds are revealed, generational differences exposed, and blazing truths laid bare. Morisseau’s smart, entertaining and moving story about family, survival and the nature of liberation is “not only dynamic, it’s dynamite” (The New York Times).
“[A] smart and bracing new play about two generations of urban outlaws struggling to stay afloat in the lower depths…[Sunset Baby] covers vast acres of social and political ground.” – The New York Times
“…smart, entertaining and moving…while asking penetrating questions about the nature of liberation. Is it possible to be a good revolutionary and a good parent? Why are the gains made by one generation so often casually thrown away by the next? And what are the things we do for love?” – The Guardian
Head Over Heels
Songs by The GoGo’s
Based on The Arcadia by Sir Philip Sidney
Conceived & Original Book by Jeff Whitty
Adapted by James Magruder
Nov 21 – Dec 29, 2019
Tony Award-winning writer (Jeff Whitty)
A hilarious, exuberant musical that will get you grooving in your seat, Head Over Heels follows a royal family on an outrageous journey to save their beloved kingdom from extinction—only to discover the revolution they need is within their own hearts. From the visionaries who rocked Broadway with Hedwig and the Angry Inch, Avenue Q and Spring Awakening, this bold and fierce new musical comedy—set to the iconic music of the 80s all-female rock band The Go-Go’s, including the hit songs “We Got the Beat,” “Our Lips Are Sealed,”—is a spirited and sexy celebration of love in all its infinite varieties.
“Characters clash, split and recombine in the time-honored tradition of Shakespeare’s great cross-dressing comedies “Twelfth Night” and “As You Like It.” […] here is the go-for-broke exuberance that made the Go-Go’s so irresistible.” – The New York Times
“A technicolor category unto itself […] The show is an ode to female independence with the winking spirit of a Shakespearean fairy and the neon edge of a rebellious ‘80s teenager, teaming up to beckon people into the woods.” – Entertainment Weekly
By Lauren Gunderson
Jan 16 – Feb 9, 2020
Steinberg and Lanford Wilson Award-winning playwright
American Theatre’s 2017 Most Produced playwright in America
Four beautiful, badass women—Playwright Olympe de Gouges, assassin Charlotte Corday, former queen Marie Antoinette, and Haitian rebel Marianne Angelle—lose their heads in this irreverent, girl-powered comedy set during the French Revolution’s Reign of Terror. As this fearless comedy about a motley female foursome unfolds, The Revolutionists rewrites the book on violence and legacy, art and activism, feminism and terrorism, compatriots and chosen sisters, and how we actually go about changing the world.
“…a sassy, hold-on-to-your-seats theatrical adventure…Listen closely, though, and hang on tight. If you do, you’ll be treated to an invigorating and enlightening journey.” —Cincinnati Enquirer
“…in this sparkling work, politics is very, very funny …These are hilarious and lovable women trapped in a history with a somber final act.” — Houston Chronicle
By George Bernard Shaw
Mar 21 – April 5, 2020
Nobel Prize-winning playwright
Tracing the life of Joan of Arc from the siege of Orleans, through her trial and recantation, and culminating with the tragedy that transformed into a legend, Saint Joan is an electrifying portrait of one of history’s most revered and revolutionary lightning rods. Fiery and timeless, Shaw’s masterpiece shines a fierce light on the limits of an individual in a society dominated by political and religious forces. Presented in a new, stripped-back staging directed by Mathew Wright, prepare to see Joan’s incendiary life shine brighter than ever.
“Shaw’s play is about not heavenly triumph but human hypocrisy — how we crush the dreamer under our heel and then memorialize her […] a point still sharp as Joan’s sword and vivid as the fire that consumed her.” – Vulture
“in this 1923 play, written three years after Joan received sainthood, Shaw never goes for the didactic slam-dunk, even when the angels are on his side. Instead he revels in the complexity…a dialectic that’s weighty even as it crackles with wit.” – Variety
Alex & Alix
By Sara Porkalob
Apr 30 – May 24, 2020
2017 City Arts Future List playwright
2018 Seattle Magazine’s Most Influential People
Multiple Gregory Award-winning artist
From artist & activist Sara Porkalob (Dragon Lady, Dragon Cycle) comes a new play about endings, beginnings, and the unseen forces that shape the way we remember love. A moving meditation on memory, trauma and healing from one of Seattle’s—and now, one of the nation’s—most celebrated theatre makers, Alex & Alix is about two women, one name, and a love story that gets rewritten every day.
“After experiencing her astonishing “Dragon Lady’’ and the world premiere of “Dragon Mama,’’ it’s not clear to me what, if anything, this incandescent artist cannot do.” – Boston Globe
“[S]he’s an uncompromising intersectional feminist, dedicated to equity and social justice… Porkalob is eager to make change, constantly interrogating her actions and motivations.” – City Arts
Miss You Like Hell
Book & Lyrics by Quiara Alegría Hudes
Music & Lyrics by Erin McKeown
Jun 18 – Jul 28, 2020
Tony and Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright
Tony and Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Quiara Alegría Hudes (Water by the Spoonful,In the Heights) and acclaimed, genre-breaking singer/songwriter Erin McKeown join forces for a new musical that will find your soul and stay with you forever. When Beatriz, an undocumented immigrant facing trial for deportation, persuades her estranged daughter to speak on her behalf, they set off on a road trip that crosses state lines and reveals what sets them apart—and what connects them forever. Featuring music every bit as diverse and eclectic as America, Miss You Like Hell exudes the joy, love and frustration of being a family in a changing country.
“Powerful and complex. A fresh take on the American road story, filled with people and ideas we rarely get to see onstage.” – The New York Times
“America, at this whiplash turn in its history, has to sort out what kind of country it wants to be. Miss You Like Hell makes a tender pitch for the endangered values of understanding and inclusiveness.” – LA Times