Leading Us Into Temptation – Artistic Director George Mount on the 2014-2015 Season

I think the season coming up has some amazing play titles associated with and some amazing directors associated with each of those shows. And again, it’s also coming in as one of those seasons where the directors are coming at the plays from a passion point of view.

The theme of the season this year is built around the idea of what we’re calling “Lead Us Into Temptation.” So each of the plays, somewhere in them, deal with elements of love, desire, lust, ambition…chasing after that forbidden fruit. And how ideas of jealousy, deception, and corruption can bump up against those notions of craven impulses or secret desires.

The thing that’s going to be kicking off the season is going to be a real note for something here in Seattle. Before we get to our four play themed season, of “Lead Us Into Temptation,” we’re going to kick off a 5th full production in early September of “Waiting for Godot,” Samuel Beckett’s masterpiece of the last century. It’s going to be built around an entire city-wide festival of the works of Samuel Beckett. We are involving over 20 arts and education organizations from the period of late August through early November, all coordinating and producing works by or inspired by Samuel Beckett.

We’ll have our show, “Waiting for Godot” performed in cooperation with ACT Theatre at the Falls Theatre in early September. We’re very excited about the opportunity for us, as theatre artists, and all of Seattle as audience members to jointly explore this great and profoundly important writer’s work.

As an artistic director, what I get the great pleasure of doing, is giving other artists an opportunity to explore their passions. And the directors associated with the plays this year have, each of them, brought a particular excitement and a particular dream passion to each of these shows. Jon Kretzu doing “Twelfth Night” is getting a chance to explore some beautiful opulence and sort of faded glory and degradation all at the same time in his production of “Twelfth Night.”

Desdemona Chiang is an exceptionally talented and exciting director whose work with Azeotrope people may be familar with. She’s also got a great history with Shakespeare, and she is over the moon excited about “Measure for Measure.” She approached me about, when I met with her, because I think her talent is so great, I wanted her to get a chance to explore Shakespeare…the first show on her list was “Measure for Measure.”

Makeala Pollock who is directing “Tartuffe” is developing a passion for the works of Moliere. She recently directed “The Bourgeois Gentlemen” at Cornish College and is getting…is chomping at the bit to get some more of that Moliere wit and social commentary expressed in Seattle.

And the great John Langs, whose work we’ve enjoyed with “King Lear,” “The Merchant of Venice,” “Antony and Cleopatra,” has one of the strongest and most distinctive voices in Seattle theatre directing, and to bring it to bear upon this great play of jealousy and passion and deception is going to be right up his alley. I think it’s going to be flexing all the muscles that he has already finely developed.

There are going to be a lot of great plays that you’re going to want to see and a subscription is one of the best ways to ensure that you see every one of them.

Waiting for Godot – September 3-21, 2014

Twelfth Night – October 21-November 16, 2014

Measure for Measure – January 6-February 1, 2015

Tartuffe – March 17-April 12, 2015

Othello – April 22-May 10, 2015

2014-2015 Season Announced – Lead Us Into Temptation

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Artistic Director George Mount announced the company’s plans for 2014-2015 that include expanding to five plays for its indoor season, the return of directors Jon Kretzu and John Langs, and the mainstage directing debuts of Desdemona Chiang and Makaela Pollock.

“Many of the projects in this coming year have been in the works for several years,” said Mount. “It was really a matter of timing and getting the right pieces in place.  For the indoor season, the plays coalesce around the theme of ‘Lead Us Into Temptation’ since desire, both playful and sinister, are a factor in each show.”

The free, outdoor Wooden O shows for summer 2014 will be The Two Gentlemen of Verona directed by David Quicksall and Julius Caesar directed by Vanessa Miller.  “Both David and Vanessa are Wooden O veterans, and they know the demands it takes to create a great experience in the parks,” said Mount.  The Two Gentlemen of Verona will draw its setting from mid-century America while Julius Caesar will feature an all-female cast set in a contemporary world on the brink of war. The shows will start performances on July 10, 2014 and perform in parks at Mercer Island, Sammamish, Seattle, Lynnwood, Edmonds, SeaTac, Issaquah, Shoreline and other cities. All performances are free and open to the public with donations encouraged at the site.  After their run in Seattle, each show will transfer to Walla Walla for a week of performances.

Seattle Shakespeare Company expands its indoor programming next season by adding a fifth full production to its roster. Samuel Beckett’s Waiting for Godot will be produced at the Falls Theatre at ACT Theatre September3-21, 2014. “Godot is a play I’ve wanted to direct for a long time, and I specifically wanted to direct it at ACT,” said Mount. “I’ve been working for almost three years with a group of artists to help realize this production, and I’m very excited that we can kick off our indoor season with this play that could arguably be the most influential play of the 20th century. And, we’ve got some very exciting city-wide partners and events related to Beckett in the works.”  Samuel Beckett introduced the world to Vladimir and Estragon in Waiting for Godot when much of humankind lived in fear of nuclear annihilation. Since then these two clowns, as well as their fellow travelers Pozzo and Lucky, have led the way in taking one falteringly dangerous step after another into an unknown future.

Shakespeare’s sparkling comedy Twelfth Night will be directed by Jon Kretzu October 21-November 16, 2014 at the Center Theatre at Seattle Center. “I’m so happy to welcome back Jon who showed us the charm and delight in Love’s Labour’s Lost in 2013,” said Mount.  “I know he’s interested in playing with both the twinkle of Twelfth Night as well as the darker tones of the play.”

Desdemona Chiang will direct Measure for Measure January 6-February 1, 2015 at the Center Theatre at Seattle Center. “Desdemona is an artist whose work really caught my attention, and I look forward to introducing her to our fans,” said Mount. “Measure for Measure is a play that raises hard questions and doesn’t provide any easy answers, and I’m counting on Desdemona to hold us to the fire for this one.”

Moliere’s Tartuffe will be directed by Makaela Pollock March 17-April 12, 2015 at the Center Theatre at Seattle Center. “Tartuffe is a crazy tale of a swindler who cons his way into a family’s household, and Moliere skewers false morality with great gusto,” said Mount. “I worked with Makaela for the 2012 Wooden O production of Twelfth Night, and I think her zany sensibilities will be spot on for the play.

Othello will be the final play in the company’s indoor season.  It will be directed by John Langs April 22-May 10, 2015 at the Cornish Playhouse at Seattle Center. “John doesn’t shy away from bringing a big vision of Shakespeare’s plays to the stage,” said Mount. “Time and time again he’s wowed our audiences, and I can’t wait see what he’ll bring to bear on Othello since it’s a firecracker of a play.”

Seattle Shakespeare Company will also tour two 6-actor Shakespeare productions to approximately 60 schools and communities across Washington State in the spring of 2015.

Season ticket packages are now on sale and range from $94 to $204 for all five indoor productions. Season ticket packages can be purchased by calling the ticket office at (206) 733-8222 or online at www.seattleshakespeare.org. Single tickets for all five productions will go on sale June 4, 2014 and range from $25-$48 per ticket.

General Auditions for Wooden O 2014 Productions

The cast of Seattle Shakespeare Company's 2013 Wooden O production of "The Tempest."
The cast of Seattle Shakespeare Company’s 2013 Wooden O production of “The Tempest.”

Seattle Shakespeare Company will hold general auditions on Saturday March 1 from 11AM to 6PM for its two Wooden O summer 2014 productions directed by David Quicksall and Vanessa Miller.

Please email casting to schedule an available slot. To solicit a time for this audition please include a headshot and resume in your email message.

Where: Cornish Playhouse, 201 Mercer Street, Seattle WA 98109. The auditions will take place in the Founder’s Room located in the upper lobby near the bar. Please enter the building through the side door located near Seattle Rep.

Audition requirements: two heightened text pieces (90-second maximum per piece), and at least one of them should be by Shakespeare. The second piece will only be seen at the director’s discretion and request, so please be ready but don’t assume that both pieces will asked to be heard.  Also note, you may be asked to sing a capella.

Dates for the Wooden O productions are July 10 through August 17. Rehearsals will begin June 9, 2014. Both productions will perform in Walla Walla for one week.

On Playing Shakespeare with George Mount

Shakespeare has been a companion for George Mount for most of his adult life. Whether as an actor, a director, or a producer, George has spent a lot of time thinking about Shakespeare’s plays and how to best approach them. He’s had the fortune to play many of the roles he always wanted to play, and the gift of discovering himself in parts he never ever considered. I mean, what guy actually thinks he’ll get to play both Kate in “The Taming of the Shrew” and Prince Hamlet. Turn on the sound and find out what George has to say about performing Shakespeare.

 On Playing Shakespeare with George Mount

“I find with Shakespeare, more than any other playwright’s work, is the demand on the artist. The material itself is such a pinnacle of greatness that it demands of the artists, who are essentially collaborating with Shakespeare on the play, to be firing on all cylinders and be at the top of their game in order to even approach being able to be in that realm. It demands of the actor all of the resources that we have at our disposal to be working at the peak of prowess.

The mind needs to be incredibly active to unravel the thoughts and the complexities of the characters and the subtleties of the words and the meaning. The articulators need be working at the top of their game in order to get those words out. Physically, you’ve got to be as healthy as you can for the rigors of that thought breath communication, for the marathon of work of going from Act 1 Scene 1 to Act 5…it demands of an actor with the sword fighting, with the physical comedy, with the complex stage pictures. So everything that an actor has in his tool kit, in his resources, is used to its peak in doing a Shakespeare play and creating those characters.

Also, creatively, the imagination has to be at its height in order to create a unique character that can inhabit the world of Shakespeare. I think of it, sometimes, like a…I’m a fan of Bob Dylan’s work, and while I think that no one interprets Bob Dylan better than Bob Dylan, Bob Dylan is a frequently covered musician because his song writing is some of best lyrics there are. And for someone, I would imagine, that doing Shakespeare is, for an actor, what covering a Bob Dylan song is for a musician. You’ve got to be at your peak and at your best at all times to just even be in the same realm with that kind of genius and brilliance. And it will demand of you all of what you have and you’ll discover that you can always go further and you’ll get surprised at far you even went doing a Shakespeare play.”

Quarrelling Couple Cast for “Much Ado”

Much Ado About Nothing Casting
Matt Shimkus (recently seen in “Twelfth Night”) and Jennifer Lee Taylor (recently seen in “Pygmalion”) to play Benedick and Beatrice in “Much Ado About Nothing.”

Jennifer Lee Taylor and Matt Shimkus are matched as the argumentative and amorous couple Beatrice and Benedick in Seattle Shakespeare Company’s indoor season opener “Much Ado About Nothing.”

Artistic Director George Mount will stage the production set in a coastal resort area in 1953.

Taylor recently played Eliza Doolittle in Seattle Shakespeare Company’s production of “Pygmalion,” and Shimkus was Sir Andrew Augucheek in last summer’s “Gilligan’s Island” inspired Wooden O production of “Twelfth Night.”

Also cast in the “Much Ado About Nothing” company are Brenda Joyner (Hero), Jay Myers (Claudio), Peter Jacobs (Leonato), Jim Gall (Don Pedro), Nick Rempel (Don John), David Quicksall (Dogberry), Heather Persinger (Verges), Noah Greene (Borachio), Olivia Hartshorn (Margaret), Keith Dahlgren (Friar), and Bill Higham (Antonio).

“Much Ado About Nothing” runs Oct. 23 to Nov. 17. Tickets go on sale in mid-September.