2017-18 I AM Season
A letter from Mathew Wright, Artistic Director
What do we mean when we say “I am?”
Who we are is precious to us – we use it as the ground on which to build meaning for ourselves as we make choices and move through our lives. Along the way, we learn to articulate the things that define us – things like gender, age, race, religion, sexuality, politics, and class.
The trouble we seem to be having lately (always?) is that identity is not in the eye of beholder. Identity can’t be controlled – not by the identified or the identifier. Identity is what it is, and for most of us, it is a constantly shifting target.
Our six plays this season are full of characters (and playwrights) who are unafraid to say “I AM” – and who refuse to allow their identity to be defined by others.
We are who we are. And we are a wild bunch.
The plays in this season are wild. The human beings in them are wild. We who watch them are wild. This diverse, varied and wild human nature is both the source of our conflicts and, if we can find them, our resolutions.
As the poet Mary Oliver once wrote, “Tell me – what will you do with your one wild and precious life?”
By Ayad Akhtar
Brilliant Pakistani-American writer Zarina is focused on finishing her novel about women and Islam when she meets Eli, a young convert who bridges the gulf between her modern life and her traditional heritage. But when her conservative father and sister discover her controversial manuscript, they are all forced to confront the beliefs that define them. From Ayad Akhtar, the Pulitzer Prize-winning writer of Disgraced, THE WHO & THE WHAT is a thrillingly fierce and funny new play about identity, religion and the contradictions that make us who we are.
“THE WHO & THE WHAT explores intergenerational and interfaith conflicts with fluid eloquence and intelligence. Mr. Akhtar writes dialogue that, while often funny and always natural, crackles with ideas and continually reveals undercurrents of tension that ratchet up the emotional stakes.”—The New York Times
By Douglas Carter Beane
Set in the beating heart of the naughty, raucous world of 1930s burlesque, THE NANCE brings to life an American era when it was easy to play gay and dangerous to be gay. Chauncey Miles performs as a “nance”, a popular comedy act packed with double entendre and camp parodies of gay men. While most “nance” actors are straight, Chauncey is not, and – at a time when gay communities were subject to police raids and moral outrage – Chauncey is left with no choice but to hide his identity while he mocks it onstage.
“A heartfelt period piece about coded and censored gay life in 1930s New York…this is Beane’s finest straight (well, straight-acting) play since THE LITTLE DOG LAUGHED.” —Time Out (New York)
December 1 – December 23, 2017
Ring in the holidays with a dazzling night of merriment, song, and a heaping dash of the unexpected. At the Holiday Cast Party, celebrated Seattle performers take the stage one by one to wow the crowd, each with their unique brand of unplanned, unscripted and wildly talented merriment. With each night brimming with a wealth of surprises, you might just want to come back for a second helping.
By Jiehae Park
Asian-American twin sisters M and L will do whatever it takes to win the one coveted affirmative action spot at “The College.” But when the thick acceptance envelope falls into the hands of D, a white male colleague who is 1/16th Native American, the sisters will stop at nothing to take back what is rightfully theirs – and eliminate anyone who stands in their way. Jiehae Park’s clever and incisive adaptation of Macbeth explores how the drive to succeed can become an all-consuming – and deadly – obsession.
“With its staccato rhythms, short scenes, and farcical characters, unlike any you’ve ever seen before onstage, it’s hard to know how to characterize this play, except to say that it’s unexpectedly wonderful.” – The Arts Fuse
By Taylor Mac
Somewhere in the suburbs, Isaac has returned from the wars to help take care of his ailing father, only to enter a different warzone: a household in revolt. His mother, liberated from an oppressive marriage – with Isaac’s newly out transgender sibling as her ally – is on a crusade to dismantle the patriarchy. But in Taylor Mac’s sly, subversive comedy HIR, annihilating the past doesn’t always free you from it.
“…sensational—in all senses of the word…[an] audacious and uproarious black comedy…Mac has his own gloriously skewed vision of the toxins fouling the American family from within, and in its avowedly loopy way HIR reflects current concerns about the decline of the middle class, as well as the trauma war veterans endure…brilliant writing…” —New York Times
By Branden Jacobs-Jenkins
In 1859, the handsome George arrives as heir apparent to Terrabonne, his late uncle’s slave plantation. There he quickly falls in love with Zoe, a beautiful “octoroon” – someone who is one-eighth Black – but the evil overseer M’Closky has other plans for both Terrebonne and Zoe. Nothing is sacred in this genre-bending work: race, identity and time are bent by the whims of AN OCTOROON’s audacious storytelling. Racial stereotypes both past and present are shattered in Branden Jacobs-Jenkins’ bold, imaginative re-envisioning of a 19th century antebellum drama as an urgent message for today.
Winner – 2014 OBIE Award for Best New American Play
“Super oxygenating—despite moments of palpable fear and disquiet, we leave feeling somehow healthier, as though the theater has given us a violent shake and a pep talk.” —Time Out (New York)
Two productions in rotating repertory:
Hedwig and the Angry Inch and Lady Day at Emerson’s Bar and Grill
Hedwig and the Angry Inch
Book by John Cameron Mitchell
Music & Lyrics by Stephen Trask
The off-Broadway smash-hit Hedwig and the Angry Inch tells the electrifying story of Hedwig, a German emigrant who suffered a botched sex-change operation, as she travels the country in hopeless romantic pursuit of her former lover. First a hit on stage and again on screen, John Cameron Mitchell’s hard-rock tale of transformation has earned critical acclaim and a legion of fans across the world.
Fridays at 7:30pm and Sundays at 3pm | GET TICKETS
Lady Day at Emerson’s Bar and Grill
by Lanie Robertson
Lanie Robertson’s Lady Day at Emerson’s Bar and Grill paints a stirring portrait of jazz legend Billie Holiday as she performs one of her last solo concerts, four months before her death. Packed with the music that made her both a legend – “What a Little Moonlight Can Do”, “God Bless the Child” – and a cultural flashpoint – “Strange Fruit” – Lady Day tells an intimate story of a complex woman through reminisces, confessions, and unforgettable music.
Thursdays & Saturdays at 7:30pm | GET TICKETS
New: the ArtsWest Drink Card! For only $60, enjoy 10 delicious libations during the 2017-18 I AM Season. Click here to purchase.