Intiman Theatre is hiring Seattle director and UW drama professor Valerie Curtis-Newton to co-curate its 2016 drama festival.
Intiman Theatre has hired director and University of Washington drama professor Valerie Curtis-Newton to co-curate the company’s 2016 season with producing artistic director Andrew Russell.
According to Russell, he and Curtis-Newton are jointly devising and will together produce a roster of plays by black women dramatists. Under consideration are works by the late Alice Childress, contemporary Pulitzer Prize-winners Suzan-Lori Parks and Lynn Nottage, and others.
Curtis-Newton has staged shows at many theaters, three in recent years for Intiman: “All My Sons,” “Dirty Story,” and the racially charged Childress drama, “Trouble in Mind.” (She will be directing “Trouble” again next year, at the Guthrie Theatre in Minneapolis.)
Having a prominent black theater artist share her theatrical sensibility and perspective by helping mold an entire season is part of Intiman’s dedication to racial and gender equity, Russell noted. In a prepared statement from Intiman, Curtis-Newton said she is “honored” to participate in presenting plays by “amazing writers” who “deserve to be recognized and celebrated.”
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Russell also revealed that none of the 2016 productions (which will be finalized and announced later) will be staged at the Cornish Playhouse, formerly Intiman’s home venue. The 470-seat Seattle Center facility has been used frequently by the company since Cornish took over the lease in 2013.
But this year, two of Intiman’s four 2015 shows were presented in smaller venues: 12th Avenue Arts on Capitol Hill and Seattle Center’s Alhadeff Studio, a satellite of Cornish Playhouse.
The shifting of venues will likely lower production costs. But Russell’s motivation, he said, is also to make Intiman’s agenda of presenting “professional theater for the public good, focusing on stories about outsiders” more accessible in different parts of the city.
Since he began running Intiman in 2012, after the company suspended production under the encumbrance of a $1 million debt, Russell has focused on plays that address social issues and “invite conversation” in public forums. Some longtime subscribers have not been pleased by this evolving agenda, he acknowledged. But he said the company is building a new audience of continuing supporters and newcomers intrigued by Intiman’s current programming.
As for the bottom line, according to the company, ticket sales have held steady, the accumulated debt has been whittled down to about $400,000 and it’s on track to be eliminated by 2018. Intiman has also stuck to its plan of operating on a lean budget ($1.25 million in 2015, a projected $1 million in 2016), and not taking on additional debt.