TPS 21st Birthday Edition

Rex Carleton, TPS technical director and “Seattle Theatre Wikipedia” himself answers monthly questions in this regular feature of our Newsletter. 

Program Assistant Keiko Green sits down with the man.

K: In honor of TPS’s 21st Birthday Party coming up, let’s talk birthdays. What is your most memorable birthday?

Long silence.

REX: (thinking) Ahhhhhhh. 


K: Do you celebrate your birthday?

R: Not really. I mean kind of sometimes have a piece of cake or a pie or something to celebrate birthdays at home, you know. And it’s just become this thing where we all get together for about half an hour, sing happy birthday, blow out a candle, and then go on with our work… I’m trying to remember some specific thing that we did for my birthday, but… isn’t that awful?

K: It’s not awful. It just means you spend each day —

R: — I’ve had 70 of them, and I can’t remember a single thing I did on any one!


R: As a family, in my married family adult life, we don’t go out and — I remember one!

K: Okay!

R: What must have been 1998, my 50th, we were in tech for a show in what would become the last show the Group Theatre ever did, I think. I’m quite sure we were in tech for Keepers of the Dream, which was a self-created show with Jackie Moscou and several other local folk (read about that show here!) — it was a powerful exploration of what it’s like to be black in America, among other things. And we were in tech for that show. And when I’m in tech, my hair’s on fire. It’s just a given that Rex is a walking zombie. Because I’m such a stickler for detail that I never let anything go until a show opens. Right?

So we’re in the middle of tech. And all of a sudden, the whole world pulls this surprise birthday on me.


R: And I’m going, “Now, hold on. We’ve got work to do! We can’t have a moment of fun here!”

K: There’s no time!

R: There’s no time! And to make things even more aggravating for the perpetual workaholic, my family shows up! And the Group Theatre family as a whole — has purchased for us as a family — a dinner night out at one of those expensive, fancy, seafood-y kind of places in Ballard. Some place like Anthony’s. And they wouldn’t take no for an answer.

And I was out the door after putting on some nice clothes that my wife had brought, and my wife, my son, and I had a really nice dinner out in the middle of tech! And it was wonderful. It really was!

Of all the things you could give a guy who doesn’t know when to stop, the ability to stop and just breathe for a little bit — on a landmark like a 50th birthday — was cool. It was really fun.

And I was really glad to get back to tech.


E-mail Keiko at with the subject heading “ASK REX” to have your question featured in an upcoming newsletter!

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