The sixth and final show of Seattle's A Contemporary Theatre's 1996-97 season is 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.) The Big Slam opened Oct. 21, and ends Nov. 16.
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." Starring in the comedy are Julie Gustafson, Shelley Reynolds, Mark Deklin Schwotzer and Willie Weir. Desiging the show are Jeff Frkonja (set), David Zinn (costumes), Rick Paulsen (lighting) and David Pascal(sound).
In other ACT news, artistic director Gordon Edelstein has announced the line-up of his second season at the helm. (Since the season doesn't begin until May 1998, specific dates have not yet been chosen.)
Collected Stories: Donald Margulies' two-hander about a successful writer and the admiring -- and ambitious -- student who enters, and then co-opts, her life. The show premiered at CA's South Coast Rep and played Off-Broadway at Manhattan Theatre Club. Quills: Doug Wright's controversial look at the Marquis de Sade, set in an 1807 insane asylum. "I couldn't decide if [de Sade] was a satiric genius or a toxic pornographer," Wright has said, citing de Sade's "outrageous social commentary and darker primal content." Quills won a Best Play OBIE for the 1995 New York Theatre Workshop production.
Summer Moon (working title): Voice Of The Prairie author John Olive returns with this lyrical drama of one man's quest to bring Japanese cars to America during the post-War years. Other Olive plays include Evelyn And The Polka King and Standing On My Knees. Developed at UT's Sundance Lab and South Coast Rep, the show will be directed by ACT associate artistic director, Leslie Swackhamer.
Thunder Knocking On The Door: Keith Glover's blues musical about a magical guitar's effect on a poor black family. The drama, which uses the 12-bar blues format even in dialogue, premiered at the Alabama Shakespeare Festival. Other Glover works include Dancing On Moonlight and Coming Of The Hurricane. ACT had intended to stage Thunder this past season, but postponed when Glover decided to rework the score with composer Keb' Mo'.
Also somewhere in the ACT season will be a "modern American classic," possibly Death Of A Salesman, A View From The Bridge, A Moon For The Misbegotten or Light Up The Sky. A sixth work, probably a new play, will also be on the roster.
Founded in 1965 by Gregory A. Falls, ACT dedicates itself to producing new works. Having recently moved downtown, ACT now produces plays on two different stages.
Artistic director Edelstein, staged The Homecoming on Broadway and the world premiere of Arthur Miller's The Last Yankee. He served as associate artistic director of both New Haven CT's Long Wharf Theatre and MA's Berkshire Theatre Festival.
At the time of Said Swackhamer, who served as interim artistic director before Edelstein arrived, "Gordon's work with playwrights such as Donald Margulies, Constance Congdon, Mac Wellman and Joyce Carol Oates shows a level of vision and style that will be invigorating to ACT and to the Seattle community." Swackhamer is now associate artistic director at ACT.
For tickets and information on productions at A Contemporary Theatre on Union Street in Seattle, call (206) 292-7676 or visit A Contempory Theatre at the regional listings of Playbill On-Line.
--By David Lefkowitz