Just announced is the sixth and final show of Seattle's A Contemporary Theatre's 1996-97 season, The Big Slam, directed by Woolly Mammoth company artistic director, Howard Shalwitz. A satirical look at get-rich-quick schemes, Slam follows four yuppies joining forces to market a bizarre new product. Bill Corbett's comedy premiered in 1995 as a production by the Eye of the Storm company at the Loring Playhouse. (The show also played at Woolly Mammoth in January, though it was directed by Casey Stangl there, rather than Shalwitz.)
Satire is something of a Corbett specialty; he's a contributing writer on cable TV's "Mystery Science Theatre 3000." Said Corbett in a statement about the play, "I was interested in doing something about how the world of business has developed its own vocabulary to make naked ambition seem morally virtuous. Pure greed packaged in the language of self-help and spiritual renewal." The Big Slam begins previews Oct. 16, opens Oct. 21, and ends Nov. 16.
Currently, Lee Blessing's Going To St. Ives plays at the ACT. The show had its world premiere there July 8 after beginning previews July 3. St. Ives runs to Aug. 10.
Blessing, author of Down The Road, Two Rooms, Fortinbras and the 1989 Broadway hit, A Walk In The Woods, developed his latest play at the Eugene O'Neill Theatre Center in CT. Although that idyllic training ground is not supposed to be a marketplace for producers, occasionally plays do get snapped up for productions around the country. That's what happened with Going To St. Ives.
Director Leslie Swackhamer, who caught one of the O'Neill readings, said, "The entire audience hung on every word, absolutely riveted by the story and characters. I knew ACT had to do this play." Winner of the Herbert & Patricia Brodkin Scholarship Award, St. Ives has some similarity to Blessing's Two Rooms in that both deal with the psychological implications of hostage negotiations. In the earlier play, a wife uses diplomatic circles and the media in a vain attempt to get her husband released from middle-eastern captivity. In St. Ives, an English doctor invites an African dictator's ailing mother to tea. The physician, Cora, promises to treat May's illness if her brutal son releases four hostages.
Starring in the show are Gloria Foster (Having Our Say) and Mari Nelson (An American Daughter at Seattle Rep). Designers for the show include Carey Wong (set), Greg Sullivan (lighting), Jeanne Arnold (costumes) and Steve LeGrande (sound).
Founded in 1965 by Gregory A. Falls, A Contemporary Theatre now has two stages, the Falls Thrust Stage and the Allen Arena, where St. Ives plays. Coming up this season: Pearl Cleage's Blues For An Alabama Sky, which begins previews Aug. 7, opens Aug. 12 and runs to Sept. 7; and Jon Marans' Old Wicked Songs, which begins previews Sept. 11, opens Sept. 16 and runs to Oct. 12.
Director Swackhamer is serving as interim artistic director of ACT; the announcement of a permanent head is expected at the end of the summer.
For tickets and information on productions at A Contemporary Theatre on Union Street in Seattle, call (206) 292-7676.
--By David Lefkowitz