“The Flick,” “Chinglish” and “Voyage for Madmen” make their Seattle debuts.
Several attention-grabbing views of contemporary experience — plays about Pacific Rim commerce, the search for connection and meaning in low-level jobs, an idealistic artistic startup gone awry — are receiving their world and local premieres at Seattle theaters. Here’s the skinny on them:
Annie Baker earned a 2014 Pulitzer Prize for this three-hour slice-of-lifer telescoping the dynamic between an interracial crew of young people working at a single-screen, nearly extinct movie theater in central Massachusetts.
The Pulitzer jury praised the script for its compassionate, candid rendering of “lives rarely seen on the stage.” And with its small cast and glowing notices, “The Flick” will be one of the most produced plays in the U.S. this season.
New Century Theatre Company gives us the first Seattle outing in a production staged by MJ Sieber at 12th Avenue Arts, NCTC’s new outpost on Capitol Hill.
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Runs Thursday, March 5, through April 4 at 12th Avenue Arts, 1620 12th Ave. E., Seattle; $15-$30 (206-661-8223 or wearenctc.org).
Chinese-American dramatist David Henry Hwang has long been interested in cross-cultural currents, both at home and abroad. In this comedy (which had its Broadway debut in 2011), an Ohio businessman hopes to cash in on China’s new open-door opportunities for international commerce. But many cultural misunderstandings arise, on both sides, once he visits the country and tries to make deals (personal and professional) in a society much harder to comprehend than he anticipated.
In a New York Times interview, Hwang talked about the importance of mutual understanding between the U.S. and China in an increasingly globalized economy. “The two countries are at a point now where we’d be very smart to engage in a deep level,” he said, “and try to see things from the other people’s points of views.”
One tool the play uses? A large chunk of the dialogue is spoken in Mandarin, which has been translated into English and is projected as supertitles. Annie Lareau directs.
Runs Thursday, March 5, through March 29 at ArtsWest Playhouse, 4711 California Ave. S.W., Seattle; $15-$34.50 (206-938-0963 or artswest.org).
‘Voyage for Madmen: The Unbelievably True Epic Failure of the Ardeo Theatre Project’
The plans of a troupe of Seattle stage artists to create a live-work theatrical commune in France are dramatically dashed, in this world premiere docuplay by Rachel Atkins (“Black Like Us”), now at West of Lenin.
After acquiring a countryside château and planning to construct a theater and drama school, Atkins and her fellow communards were greeted at the new spread they purchased in western France by a monster storm that severely damaged their new property — and their collective dreams.
Fourteen years later, “Voyage for Madmen”dramatizes this wayward European adventure, weaving in musical numbers and stories the now-defunct Ardeo ensemble was developing into theater pieces in France — tales that ironically mirrored their own struggles (“The Tempest,” “Frankenstein,” an account of a quixotic around-the-world voyage by British sailor Donald Crowhurst).
Directed by Susanna Burney, the world premiere run continues through March 7 at West of Lenin, 203 N. 36th St., Seattle; $20-$25 (the1448projects.org).