Feb. 15, 2012 - Issue #852: The Coffee Issue
"The challenge is the dramatic action of the piece," explains Collier, over the phone from her hotel room after a busy day of rehearsals. "When I was reading the script, you could feel the ideas, and the very exciting nimbleness of how that play pulls you forward into these discussions. After I read it all I wanted to do was research all night."
Red is set in the 1958 studio of Russian-American painter Mark Rothko, depicting his work on the series of murals he created on a commission from the Four Seasons Restaurant in the Seagram Building in New York. To complement the philosophical and political discussions between Rothko (Jim Mezon) and his apprentice (David Coomber), Collier had the characters engage in action related to their discussions: mixing paint, building canvases, and actually doing some painting onstage.
"The design really celebrates Rothko's work, and there's a progression to the work on stage that I think is reflective of the journey inside that commission and inside the play, from the red palette more towards black," states Collier.
Red originally premiered in London in 2009; it also ran on Broadway in 2010. Though much of the dialogue is necessarily fictitious—we simply cannot know what was actually said in Rothko's studio—the timeline and historical facts surrounding his life and his work on the commission are very accurate.
"Rothko was really interested in controlling the environments that his work would show in," Collier says. "The opportunity with this commission was that he could have a place where he could have his murals live in a series, one painting relating to the other, creating a sense of whole for the viewer. I think as with any artist, you're always moving on to the next layer of your artistic exploration, and for Rothko at this time, the commission afforded him an extraordinary opportunity to expand into where he wanted to go next artistically.
"We also see him [struggling] with whether this great commission will reduce his paintings to be decorative, rather than transformative," she continues. "And as he wrestles with these questions, he takes a really profound action at the end of the pay that is either tragic or inspiring, depending on how you as an audience member interprets it. For me, I love that he ultimately stands to his principles and he's not seduced by money or fame or legacy, or any of the trappings of larger culture."
Until Sun, Mar 4
(7:30 pm; Sunday matinee at 1:30 pm)
Directed by Kim Collier
Citadel Theatre, $51.45 – $61.95 vueweekly.com comments: powered by Disqus
Vue respects your privacy. We will not forward your personal information to any other organization except as required by law, and will use your e-mail address only to respond to your comments. We reserve the right to edit and remove comments for length, clarity and/or if they are illegal or inappropriate. Your email address is never shown to visitors to vueweekly.com. Read the whole policy at: http://vueweekly.com/privacy