22-23 Season: BEGIN IT.

Last season, ArtsWest began curating a theater for our time in a brand new way, introducing the Associate Artists Group – a diverse and interdisciplinary collective of artists with an ongoing  commitment to the work, mission and future of ArtsWest.  The work began with a question: what is the theater we want to see in the world right now?  This year, the journey continued with a whole new question: what is theater useful for in the world right now?

Three threads emerged as an answer to that question: empathy, community, and creating something new in the wake of so much change.  The collective talked about theater as an empathy machine, a place where people can come as they are and share their deepest truths.  A place of joy, bravery, and collective learning.  A place where community can gather and build something new together.

This year, in a season called BEGIN IT, we’ll use music and theatricality to see what we can begin together.  We’ll make theater that has never been more in conversation with our community and our times.  We’ll examine pop culture and current events for what’s there and what could be, all while centering empathy, joy and possibility.  We’ll see two world premieres, two Seattle premieres, and for the first time ever, two generative projects – one through a partnership in community, and one begun right here by our own Associate Artists.  It’s a year to celebrate the courage it takes to begin and the power in building something new together.

SWIMMING WHILE DROWNING

by Emilio Rodriguez

September 29 – October 23, 2022 | A Seattle Premiere Play

When teenager Angelo Mendez decides to leave his home out of fear of further disappointing his homophobic father, he encounters a world he was not prepared for at an LGBT homeless shelter in Los Angeles. There he meets a fellow homeless teen who gives him a voice and unexpectedly introduces him to love.  Set in the worlds of the homeless shelter and the poetry lounge, SWIMMING WHILE DROWNING paints a world that is simultaneously sweet and funny, heartbreaking and real.

Finalist, 2017 Portland Theatre Drammy Awards

Winner, Wurlitzer Foundation and Robert Chelsey/Victor Bumbalo Playwriting Award


Q BROTHERS CHRISTMAS CAROL

by Q Brothers Collective

November 25 – December 23rd, 2022 | A Seattle Premiere Musical

In this hip-hop remix of Dickens’ classic tale, Ebenezer Scrooge is visited by the Ghosts of Hip-Hop Past, Present, and Future…and a Jamaican Jacob Marley.  As Scrooge is shown the path of rhythm and redemption, will he throw off his selfish chains and join the beat?  Q BROTHERS CHRISTMAS CAROL mixes everything from reggae to rock, updating and funkifying this beloved tale of love, forgiveness, and Christmas spirit – and transforming it into something altogether new.

“A wildly engaging hip-hop take on Dickens’ classic.” –Chicago Sun-Times

“Their writing here is superb: sardonic, wise, smart, and funny.” –Chicago Tribune


AN ENDLESS SHIFT

Devised by Gloria Alcalá and Alma Davenport

January 26th – February 19th, 2023 | A Documentary Theater Project

Created from verbatim accounts of the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic by the Seattle nurses who were there, AN ENDLESS SHIFT is a tribute to the everyday heroes who were confronted with what would become the longest shift of their lives.  Seattle theater artist Gloria Alcalá, in a solo tour de force performance, embodies and voices the multitude of perspectives on the harrowing journey Seattle nurses faced in an ever-shifting landscape.  It is a journey of challenge, hope, and deep recognition of our common humanity, told in the firsthand words of the humans who were there.


SPECTRUM STORIES

by Lauren Goldman Marshall & Theater of Possibility

March 16th – April 9th, 2023 | A Collaboration with Theater of Possibility

From sorcerers to scientists, autistic people throughout history have found ways to thrive using their unique skills, often in the face of incredible oppression. Yet much of this story has never been told on stage.  ArtsWest is proud to partner with Theater of Possibility (TOP), an arts organization serving neurodivergent communities, to present an original work of devised theater written and performed by a neurodiverse creative team and featuring the direction of award-winning theater artist Lauren Goldman Marshall.

“Audiences of SPECTRUM STORY are in for a poignant, funny and boldly intersectional narrative which steps away from tired stereotypes to illuminate the many colors of the autism spectrum.” –JackieMoffitt, TOP actor and teaching artist, 2012-22.


ZACH

by Christian St. Croix

May 4th – 28th, 2023 | A World Premiere Play

A satirical comedy that lovingly skewers the popular tropes of the 90s teen sitcom, ZACH introduces us to the lives and loves of Gina and P.J., a Black girl and a Latino boy at an affluent, majority-white Southern California high school.   P.J., a lovesick surfer boy, and Gina, a budding fashionista, are overjoyed when they’re invited into the inner circle of Zach, the white, charismatic, prank-happy new kid at school. But when Zach plans a new prank that goes too far, P.J. and Gina must race to stop him before it’s too late – and along the way, learn to see their peers, and themselves, with fresh eyes.

Winner, 2021 Young-Howze Theatre Award, Best Comedic Writing

“A witty, nostalgic and challenging piece.” – ArtsWave

“A healing balm…it unapologetically says you are too unique for a theme song to make everything better.” – The Young-Howze Journal


HEDWIG AND THE ANGRY INCH

book by John Cameron Mitchell
music and lyrics by Stephen Trask

June 29th – July 23rd, 2023 | She’s Back.

It’s been five years since Nicholas Japaul Bernard created his iconic portrayal of one of musical theater’s most memorable roles. Our original production of this world-wide phenomenon was one of our most talked about ever, and we think that 2023 is the perfect year to revisit it. We hope you’ll join us for HEDWIG’s return and the rest of our incredible lineup this year!