By Kenneth Jones
and Adam Hetrick
23 Nov 2012
|Photo by Kevin Rosinbum|
Lisa Peterson, who helped guide Tony Award winner Denis O'Hare's An Iliad at Seattle Rep prior to its recent Off-Broadway run at the New York Workshop, directs the play that has been in development at Seattle Rep the past several years. The experience includes a live on-stage band and a dozen classic blues songs.
Pullman Porter Blues is a commission of Seattle Rep's New Play Program. It is the first of the organization's commissions to debut on the main stage (it played Seattle Sept. 27-Oct. 28). Its DC run, at Arena Stage's Mead Center for American Theater's Kreeger Theater, continues to Jan. 6, 2013.
According to director West, "The play is inspired by my late grandfather and his many tales of working on the postal trains as well as my first train ride as a young girl. I remember, quite vividly, being utterly enamored with the train's compulsively smiling Pullman porters. Now decades later I have the incredible opportunity through my play to illuminate the world behind the smiles of the free blacks working in one of the first occupations open to them after the Civil War."
Here's how Pullman Porter Blues is billed: "It's 1937, and three generations of porters are hard at work on the luxurious Panama Limited train. Midwest blues songs flavor their journey from Chicago to New Orleans as the porters confront dark secrets from their past and tough truths about their future together. This captivating coming of age story is woven with iconic blues music and features a live band."
The Pullman Porter Blues creative team also includes set designer Riccardo Hernandez, costume designer Constanza Romero, lighting and projection designer Alexander V. Nichols, sound designer Leon Rothenberg, movement staging consultant Sonia Dawkins, stage manager Amber Dickerson and assistant stage manager Mark Johnson.