If you could remount one production from the Group Theatre, what would it be?
Rex Carleton, TPS technical director and Seattle Theatre Wikipedia himself answers monthly questions in this new feature of our Newsletter. Program Assistant Keiko Green sits down with the man himself to ask him one of your many questions.
2. If you could remount one production from the Group Theatre, which one would it be?
(For those of you not in the know, the Group Theatre is a legend in Seattle, a truly diverse group during a time when that was not the norm, producing excellent work and starting the careers of many. Rex acted as the technical director there.)
REX: You know, it’s an easy answer.
Not that it’s an easy answer. There were so many shows that were important, that were impactful, that mattered — you know, in terms of the whole socio-economic fabric of the country and the world. And there was so much that we did that was not only cutting-edge and kind of off-the-edge in a lot of ways, but you know, in a way that really mattered.
It would be easy to pick one of the musicals because we were good at hitting it with the musicals.
In a way, it would be easy to pick one of the visceral, hard-hitting, gut-wrenching pieces like Tracers. Which was — well, I guess it’s kind of dated now — just like the Vietnam War is dated. But it was a piece that was ensemble-created by a bunch of veterans, headed up by a guy named John Difusco. It was the story of a platoon in Vietnam, and what happened. Which… of course, it didn’t end up good.
A really powerful piece of theatre. And the treatment that we gave it was extraordinary. And the temptation to do something like that, that would bring back that kind of, like I said, visceral Group experience…
But the show that I would most like to remount — it’s funny because it’s a show that we remounted twice. I think in a lot of ways, it’s the Group at it’s very best — doing what at the time only we could or would do. And that was Sizwe Bansi Is Dead by Athol Fugard. We were the first company in in the Northwest at least, if not on the West Coast to produce Fugard. We did a number of his pieces. But Sizwe Bansi is an extraordinary, simple, little vignette piece of theatre about apartheid and the human-side of that. And the search for dignity. And survival.
It was a powerful piece of theatre that I think deserves to be produced once a year in this city and in every city.
So if I had to pick one, that would be it.
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