Per­form­ing Arts Cen­ter Stag­ing “Red” At Bankhead Theater

Riverbank News - - NEWS -

At the Bankhead Theater this Oc­to­ber, Liver­more Val­ley Per­form­ing Arts Cen­ter will present the taut and com­pelling Tony Award-win­ning play “Red” by John Lo­gan, which cap­tures a piv­otal pe­riod in the tu­mul­tuous ca­reer of ab­stract ex­pres­sion­ist painter Mark Rothko. The first show fully pro­duced by LVPAC, “Red” will be di­rected by Misty Me­gia in an in­ti­mate stage-on-stage set­ting with both the set and au­di­ence po­si­tioned di­rectly on the stage. This will be the first time the unique stage con­fig­u­ra­tion has ever been of­fered at the Bankhead Theater.

“Red” will run for five per­for­mances, open­ing Thurs­day, Oct. 18 at 7:30 p.m. Ad­di­tional shows are sched­uled for Fri­day, Oct. 19 at 8 p.m.; Satur­day, Oct. 20 at 2 p.m. and 8 p.m.; and Sun­day, Oct. 21 at 3 p.m.

The Bankhead Theater is at 2400 First St., Liver­more. Cost is $40 for reg­u­lar ad­mis­sion, $20 for stu­dents and ac­tive mil­i­tary per­son­nel. Call 925-3736800 for tick­ets or visit lvpac.org.

At the peak of his ca­reer in the late 1950s, Rothko had won an ex­tremely lu­cra­tive com­mis­sion, the largest of his ca­reer, to cre­ate a set of large mu­rals for the new Four Sea­sons restau­rant in New York. Even as he throws him­self into the cre­ation of the work, he broods over the arc of his ca­reer and weighs the com­mis­sion’s im­pact on his artis­tic legacy.

The play takes place dur­ing a key tran­si­tion point in the evo­lu­tion of mid­cen­tury mod­ern art as Rothko’s ab­stract ex­pres­sion­ist style was be­gin­ning to give way to pop art. In the stu­dio, Rothko ver­bally spars with his young as- sis­tant Ken, whose emerg­ing con­fi­dence in his own skills and sense of the chang­ing times in­spires him to chal­lenge the master even as he learns from him.

“Red” made its de­but in Lon­don in 2009, fea­tur­ing ac­tors Al­fred Molina (Rothko) and Ed­die Red­mayne (Ken), and trans­ferred to Broad­way for a lim­ited run. “Red” won the Tony Award for Best Play and Red­mayne won for Fea­tured Ac­tor in 2010.

The Bankhead Theater has wel­comed a wide range of per­form­ing arts with mu­sic of all gen­res, dance, magic, com­edy and more since it opened in 2007. Small-scale tour­ing plays have been pre­sented, but more com­plex plays and mu­si­cals are dif­fi­cult to mount for a sin­gle per­for­mance. Look­ing to add more the­atri­cal pro­duc­tions, LVPAC’s Ex­ecu- tive Direc­tor Scott Keni­son found that a small “stage-on-stage” ap­proach could be as cost ef­fec­tive as a tour­ing show. For “Red,” the set and au­di­ence will be po­si­tioned be­tween the fire cur­tain and the rear wall.

“The raw, in­dus­trial sense of the space will help cre­ate an ap­pro­pri­ate vis­ual back­drop for Rothko’s New York Bow­ery stu­dio,” said Keni­son. “And the in­ti­mate, stage-on­stage set­ting will en­hance the emo­tional con­nec­tion be­tween the au­di­ence and the work’s dra­matic ac­tion.”

Keni­son ini­tially dis­cussed stag­ing the project with other lo­cal or­ga­ni­za­tions, how­ever many are busy dur­ing their fall sea­son. Bring­ing the project in­side also pro­vided other ben­e­fits, as Keni­son be­lieves it is the na­ture of peo­ple in­volved in the cre- ative arts to seek and be in­spired by op­por­tu­ni­ties to broaden their hori­zons and use their skills.

“LVPAC has es­tab­lished a rep­u­ta­tion for pre­sent­ing great artists and for sup­port­ing lo­cal groups through our res­i­dent com­pany pro­gram and ed­u­ca­tional out­reach,” he said. “Now with ‘ Red’ we can build on that, lever­ag­ing the cre­ative en­ergy, pro­duc­tion skills, and ad­min­is­tra­tive strengths we al­ready have in place to pro­duce, as well as present, great works.”

The project is un­der­writ­ten in part by the LVPAC Pro­ducer’s Fund, which was es­tab­lished to sup­port projects or guest artists that ex­pand and stretch the or­ga­ni­za­tion’s artis­tic ef­forts. Pro­ject­spe­cific spon­sor­ships for “Red” are also avail­able. For more in­for­ma­tion, con­tact Denise Bridges at de­vel­op­ment@lvpac.org.

“Red” of­fers a nat­u­ral con­nec­tion be­tween LVPAC’s in­volve­ment in both the per­form­ing arts and the vis­ual arts, at the Bankhead Theater and at the Both­well Arts Cen­ter. An ex­hibit ti­tled “The Art of Drama” will be on dis­play in the Bankhead Gallery dur­ing the run of “Red.” Cu­rated by the Both­well Arts Cen­ter, the ex­hibit will fea­ture works that ex­press the con­cept of drama as seen through the eyes of a va­ri­ety of lo­cal artists.

Dur­ing the 2018-2019 fall sea­son, in ad­di­tion to “Red,” the Bankhead Theater will also wel­come the re­turn of L.A. The­atre Works with their new pro­duc­tion of “Steel Mag­no­lias” by Robert Har­ling on Oct. 13, and the Re­duced Shake­speare Com­pany’s “Ul­ti­mate Christ­mas Show (abridged)” on Dec. 23.

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