The Tony Award-winning play “Red” explores an unsolved art world mystery with a series of fictionalized exchanges between artist Mark Rothko and his apprentice. Academy Award-nominee John Logan writes scorching, witty dialogues between the two artists, both trying to find their place. This production runs for one weekend only, Nov. 10 through 12 at the Doris Harper-White Community Playhouse in historic downtown Flagstaff.
In 1958, Rothko seemingly had it all: his paintings were in the New York Museum of Modern Art and they sold for hefty sums. But as his fame and fortune grew, so did his hatred of the art world. So it was a mystery when he accepted a mural commission for the Four Seasons restaurant in Manhattan.
A symbol of conspicuous wealth and status, the posh restaurant embodied the values Rothko deplored. So why did Rothko take the commission? Some suspected he had sold out. Others heard it was a subversive act to “ruin the appetite” of the restaurant’s patrons. But then just as mysteriously, Rothko gave back the money and kept the paintings. Why did he change his mind?
“’Red’ is more than a biographical drama,” says co-director Adrienne Bischoff. “It’s about the universal struggle between being accepted and being authentic.”
Also co-directing is Becky Daggett who calls the play a visual and verbal feast. “Some of the dialogue is so beautiful that I wish we could stop the play and have the actors repeat those lines,” she said.
Bischoff and Daggett, both Viola Award winners, are directing together for the first time and were drawn to the play for many of the same reasons—the themes, artistry, and writing—the same reasons they believe audiences will be drawn to it.
Jim Taylor and Gavin Buckley play Rothko and his assistant Ken.
Performances will be held at 7:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday, and at 2 p.m. Sunday Nov. 10-12. Individual tickets for all performances are $15 plus applicable fees.
Tickets can be purchased online at Theatrikos.com; by calling (928) 774-1662; or by visiting the theater’s box office, which is open from noon to 6 p.m. Wednesdays, Thursdays, Fridays and two hours prior to each performance.
Prior to each performance, there will be a free, 15-minute pre show talk by art historian Catherine Petersen. Peterson has been teaching art history for over 30 years, most recently at CCC and NAU. Along with photos of Rothko's work, Peterson will give a brief background of Abstract Expressionism and Rothko’s early years and importance.
Each person who attends the opening performance will be entered into a drawing for a 2018 Flex Pass—six tickets to use in any combination throughout the season.