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Friday, February 24, 2012

Seeing RED - How does it make you feel?

Last night I went to see Red at The Citadel Theatre with my good friend Janine. The play follows two years of Abstract Impressionist artist Mark Rothko's life as he worked on a large mural project with his new assistant, Ken. Together they talk of many things - art, suicide, tragedy, art, selling-out, keeping integrity, art for now, art that is timeless, and in this back and forth is a marvelous play. I did not know anything about it beforehand - at least not specifically. I am familiar with art and the abstract expressionists and I have taken courses on Criticism of Art and Art History so I had a little bit of background. However, I didn't need to know anything. The specific discussions that evolve as their friendship/professional relationship grows are so universal with regards to art that I was locked in.

"It's a job. This is about me." says Rothko, and it is, but it is about more than just him. It's about waves of art, the old and the new and the now and the timeless. It is just as much about young artist Ken and others like him as it is about Rothko and Pollack and Picasso.

It certainly helps that the set (designed by David Boechler) is impressive and the paintings mesmerizing. Each shift of the light (designed by Alan Brodie) changes them into a new work of art. It also helps that Jim Mezon as Rothko and David Coomber as Ken are wonderful actors who never leave the space and who play off each other so perfectly. Director Kim Collier is clearly gifted at creating wonderful stage pictures that evolve naturally out of the action and her use of silence and space maintains tension and engagement. However, the star of the show is this brilliant script by John Logan. I intend to order a copy, even though there is no role in it for me. The way the play discusses Art hit me hard. I think anyone who engages in any type of art (not just visual art) should see this. It speaks to the why of it and the idea that these things we create are like our children and how our egos and self-doubt fight with each other on every single project we produce, and if they don't - then that might lead to other problems. I think even people who do not actively do art themselves would benefit from this show - for certainly that struggle is universal.

I was locked in from the start. I have never thought so hard during a play before - about what they were saying and about what it meant in my life. Truly a wonderful piece.

Look at it. How does it make you feel? It makes me feel inspired, conflicted, sad, joyful and amazed.

*#7 in my 2012 Theatre Goal

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