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Originally published August 20, 2014 at 12:06 AM | Page modified August 20, 2014 at 12:02 PM

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ACT’s 50th season: new works, old favorites

ACT Theatre in Seattle will celebrate its 50th season in 2014 with reprises of plays by Tennessee Williams and Tom Stoppard and contemporary works — including a world premiere.


Seattle Times theater critic

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ACT Theatre turns 50 in 2015 and will celebrate with a golden-anniversary season of plays reflecting the company’s past, present and future.

Created by Gregory and Jean Falls in 1965 in a Lower Queen Anne venue (now the home of On the Boards), the hardy regional company now occupies a multistage downtown venue in the former Eagles Building under the artistic direction of Kurt Beattie and associate John Langs. Its 2015 mainstage slate ranges from an American classic of the 1950s to a world-premiere comedy by a notable Seattle dramatist.

ACT will also continue its successful Central Heating Lab slate of shows in conjunction with such groups as Azeotrope and The Seagull Project. The series, Langs says, will emphasize newly developed works.

According to Beattie, ACT projects finishing its 2014 season with a balanced budget and an attendance of roughly 170,000 individual patrons. He says the theater soon will ramp up its funding campaign to retire a longstanding debt of more than $2 million and create a new cash fund, and make public some initial, substantial donations to the effort.

ACT’s 2015 season, which begins next March (specific run dates will be set later), and takes place in the proscenium Falls Theatre and the in-the-round Allen Theatre, is as follows:

“Jacques Brel is Alive and Well and Living in Paris.” This coproduction of ACT and the 5th Avenue Theatre features some two dozen ballads, anti-war anthems and other chansons by the late French singer-songwriter Brel. 5th Avenue artistic director David Armstrong will direct.

“Cat on a Hot Tin Roof.” ACT is reprising the Pulitzer Prize-honored Tennessee Williams drama about a contentious Southern clan, first presented at ACT in its opening 1965 season. Beattie, who will direct, calls the piece “a foundational American play” that explores themes of family and sexual dynamics.

“Threesome.” Seattle-based Yussef El Guindi’s new comedy concerns an Egyptian-American couple with issues in and out of the bedroom. Beattie calls it “a sex farce wrapped around a conversation about sexism and the victimization of women.” Portland Center Stage will co-produce the world premiere, and PCS artistic head Chris Coleman will direct.

“Hold These Truths.” Jeanne Sakata’s one-man bio-play about Japanese American activist and Seattle native Gordon Hirabayashi had a short, sold-out ACT run this July and will return for a four-week engagement by public demand, Beattie says.

“Travesties.” ACT mounted Tom Stoppard’s imaginary confab between dada poet Tristan Tzara, Russian revolutionary Vladimir Lenin and author James Joyce, in 1977. Beattie will direct a new version of the historical fantasia he says will address “great issues of the early 20th century that are still on the table today.”

“Mr. Burns, a Post-Electric Play.” Anne Washburn’s acclaimed 2012 dark comedy is about apocalypse survivors obsessed with an episode from TV’s “The Simpsons.” “It’s about the necessity of stories in our lives,” says Langs, who will stage the script.

More info: 206-292-7676 or acttheatre.org.

Misha Berson: mberson@seattletimes.com



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