Next Episode: “Making Theater”

Event Date: Monday, September 17 from 7 to 9 pm

Admission is free. Tell your friends.

This roundtable conversation series happens at Vermillion, an art gallery, bar, and neighborhood gathering place at 1508 11th Ave, Seattle ( For more information on the series, call John Boylan at 206-601-9848. If you want to link to this announcement, you can do so at

A history of the conversations is available at

(Note that this episode is happening on Monday, not the customary Tuesday. Vermillion is usually closed Mondays, but this evening will open at 6 for our conversation. Note also that a gentleman will be selling hand-tailored suits in the gallery. Feel free to check him out on your way back to the bar.

We’re back! This time the conversation looks at making theater, that passion for taking an empty stage and turning it into a story, into a vision, into another world. Read on below.

The Guests (see below for guest bios)

Jennifer Zeyl, scenic and costume designer

Matt Starritt, sound designer and writer

Valerie Curtis-Newton, director and university professor

Sheila Daniels, director, choreographer, writer, educator, actor, and producer

Curtis Taylor, writer and director

The Story

Theater has been on my mind this summer. There’s been a lot of it to see, with the big Pinter Festival at ACT and Intiman’s summer Theater Festival, among others. I’ve been reading a lot of plays, most recently Tony Kushner’s Angels in America, Christopher Fry’s 1948 verse romance, The Lady’s Not for Burning, and another rereading of Eugene O’Neill’s A Long Day’s Journey into Night, the play that resonates the most with my adolescence.

And I’ve been thinking of theater as magic. That’s magic as something mysteriously wonderful, but also magic in the sense of creating illusions. I think of a small addition to Arthur C. Clarke’s famous rule, “Any sufficiently advanced (or in this case, sufficiently mysterious?) technology is indistinguishable from magic.”

What are the mysterious technologies of theater? How do we bring an idea into fulfillment, into a flowering that can disturb, awe, and delight a diverse pack of strangers? And why? What are the passions in making theater?

We’ve assembled an excellent group. I would like to have another actor; we will see. This will be a great conversation. Do come.

What’s Next:

In October (10/16, the topic will be vibrant culture, vibrant cities. How do we create a culture that is pulsing with life, with energy? And how does Seattle rate in that regard?

In November (11/13), as is our custom on an election year, we will do something around politics, the polity, and our place in it. Stay tuned.

Finally, I’ll be leading a conversation at 3 pm on Saturday afternoon, September 15, in Carkeek Park. As part of CoCA’s Heaven & Earth exhibit in the park, Cameron Mason and Lara McIntosh created a room made of silk in the park’s orchard. They’ve been staging performances and other events in the room throughout the summer. This time the two have asked me to have a conversation about the process of making art in a park, and the high probability that art left for several months in an unmonitored but highly trafficked place may be deeply changed over that time. The art may become participatory in ways the artist never envisioned. How does that affect the work and the artist’s role in creating it?

And a plug: this Saturday marks the return of NEPO House’s 5k Don’t Run. Go.

The Guests in Detail

Valerie Curtis-Newton—Currently the Head of Acting and Directing at the University of Washington School of Drama and an Artistic Associate at A Contemporary Theatre (ACT), Valerie serves as the Artistic Director for The Hansberry Project, a professional African American theatre lab currently in collaboration with ACT.  She has previously served as Artistic Director of both Seattle’s Ethnic Cultural Theatre and Hartford’s Performing Ensemble, Inc. and worked with Actors’ Theatre of Louisville, Alabama Shakespeare Festival, Intiman Theatre, Seattle Children’s Theatre, The Mark Taper Forum, New York Theatre Workshop, Tacoma Actors’ Guild, Southern Repertory Theatre, Capitol Repertory Theatre, and Northwest Asian American Theatre among others. Her credits include the premieres of Constance Congdon’s The Midwife’s Apprentice and Kia Corthron’s The Venus De Milo Is Armed and Slide Glide The Slippery Slope as well as productions of Crumbs from the Table of Joy, Flight, The Colored Museum, Combination Skin, Wedding Band, Spell #7, Zooman and the Sign, Porcelain, Joe Turner’s Come and Gone, Neat, Santos & Santos, Stevedore, Chain, and Hiro.

Valerie was a participant in the National Endowment for the Arts/Theatre Communications Group (TCG/NEA) Career Development Program for Directors in 1997-1999 and in 2001 she received the Stage Directors and Choreographers Foundation’s (SDCF) Gielgud Directing Fellowship. Valerie holds a BA from Holy Cross College, an MFA in Directing from the University of Washington and is a member of the Society of Stage Directors and Choreographers (SSDC).

Sheila Daniels has been making theatre as a director, choreographer, writer, educator, actor and producer in Seattle since 1994. She has directed in Seattle for Intiman, Seattle Rep, ACT, SCT, Seattle Shakespeare Company, Strawberry Theatre Workshop, CHAC, Baba Yaga, Book-It, On the Boards, ladykiller Productions, UMO, Seattle Public Theatre, Theater Schmeater, Theatre Under the Influence. She has also directed in Austin, Albuquerque and New York City.  Sheila served on the faculty of Cornish College of the Arts from 1998 through 2008, and continues to be a Guest Artist on a regular basis. She also has served on the faculty of University of Washington, Seattle University and the Seattle Children’s Theatre.  As a producer, Sheila has served as Associate Director of Intiman Theatre, Associate Artistic Director at CHAC, Artistic Director of Theater Schmeater, and co-founded Baba Yaga and Theater Underground. She is an Affiliate Artist at ACT, a member of Intiman’s Collective, and an Associate Artist with Seattle Shakespeare Company. She is a 3-time nominee and 2-time recipient of the Gregory Award for Outstanding Director. Also a generative artist and performer, she is currently adapting and choreographing a new adaptation of Virginia Woolf’s The Waves, and a solo show about Helen Keller’s later life, sexuality and politics.

Curtis Taylor (writer/director) is a 2011 recipient of an Artist Trust Performance Fellowship. In Seattle he founded the theater-storefront Vodvil. Under that auspice he created original folk operas, ballets, and concert-installations. More recently he has used film to consider themes of art, life, and time. His short film Bachianas No. 5, based on the final site-specific performance at the Vodvil Theater, premiered at SXSW in Austin, Texas.

Mr. Taylor has been commissioned to make performances for the Northwest Film Forum, Center on Contemporary Art, On the Boards, and the Portland Institute of Art. In 2011 he completed a year-long artist residency at New City Theater, which culminated in the production of his play “The White Days.”

Matt Starritt is a freelance sound designer for both theatre and dance and a writer from Seattle. He recently designed the sound for A Crack in Everything for the Zoe|Juniper Dance Company, which premiered at Jacob’s Pillow Dance Festival and is touring nationally.  Matt has also designed for the Alley Theatre, Berkeley Repertory Theatre, Cornerstone Theater Company, Illusion Theatre, Intiman, Seattle Shakespeare Company, Strawberry Theatre Workshop, and Washington Ensemble Theatre. Matt is a part-time lecturer at the UW’s School of Drama.

Jennifer Zeyl has been designing and fabricating visual environment and apparel for live performance for over 20 years.  Local scenic designs include: I am my Own Wife, Of Mice and Men, boom. and My Name is Rachel Corrie (Seattle Repertory Theatre); The Mojo and the Sayso and The Pilgrims Musa and Sheri in their New World (ACT); Miracle!, Hedda Gabler, Romeo and Juliet, Dirty Story and Heartbreak House (Intiman);  A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Winter’s Tale, Merchant of Venice and Hamlet (Seattle Shakespeare); Jackie and Me, The BFG, I Was a Rat and If you Give a Mouse a Cookie (Seattle Children’s Theatre); Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead and This Wide Night (Seattle Public Theatre); Adding Machine and The Trial (New Century Theatre Company); and Little Women and Even Cowgirls Get the Blues (Book-It Repertory) and seventeen shows for Washington Ensemble Theatre as Founding Co-Artistic Director and Resident Designer.   Upcoming designs include this fall’s Café Nordo, Antony and Cleopatra (Seattle Shakespeare), The Seagull Project (ACT’s Central Heating Lab), Trails (The Village Theatre) and The Trial (NCTC).  She is the recipient of the 2006 Stranger Genius Award for Theatre, two Mayor’s Office of Arts and Culture CityArtist Awards, several ArtistTrust and 4Culture Grants for Artist Projects as well as five Seattle Times Footlight Awards. Jennifer attended the drama schools at UW (MFA) and URI (BFA, BFA).  She is the proud proprietress of Canoe Social Club (, a social club for civic-minded artists located in Capitol Hill, and the proud wife of sound designer Matt Starritt.  Images at


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: