Lee Blessing's Going To St. Ives has its world premiere July 8 at Seattle's A Contemporary Theatre. The show began previews July 3 and runs to Aug. 3.
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 (where the Flying Karamazov Brothers offer Room Service through July 13), 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.
For tickets ($16.25-$30.50) and information on Going To St. Ives, which opens July 8 at ACT, call (206) 292-7676.
--By David Lefkowitz