For its 58th season, Walterdale Theatre will be opening up with John Logan’s Red, which first debuted in December 2009 in London, UK and had won six out of seven nominations at the Tony Awards in 2010. The Citadel has also mounted the play.
To that end, how might this play be different from Citadel’s 2011 performance?
“Aside from the budget and the actors?” quips Bethany Hughes over the phone. “I think what we’re doing and accomplishing is the intimacy. The Citadel, although beautiful and bright and bold, the Walterdale Theatre is a beautiful venue for this show, because of the intimacy and the closeness with the audience.”
That level of intimacy is crucial in a script that calls for a two-person cast, which follows the apprenticeship of young painter Ken (Ben Osgood) under the instruction of abstract expressionist Mark Rothko (Mark Finlay).
In preparation for their roles, Osgood and Finlay both had to take art classes in order to demonstrate the technical aspects of painting and mixing with acrylics.
It’s a script heavy in its diction—Hughes admits that she had to refer to a dictionary upon an initial read of the script and brush up on some art history 101 in preparation of the show—and requires audience members to give their undivided attention as a result (and possibly, a quick refresher of abstract art). Thankfully, Walterdale’s set hones that environment, allowing audience members to fully engage with the show.
“This [rendition] will resonate with Edmonton audiences—and why I love it so much—is because of the characters and the idea of the creation of art,” says Hughes. “I think in a city we live in that’s a very dominant topic.”
Making her debut as director with Walterdale Theatre (though she’s directed a few other plays with other production companies), Hughes says its art-focus drew her to the story since the arts has a large importance in the Edmonton community.
“It has humour, philosophy, theology, deep-thought, creativity. It’s a very engaging, intellectual piece for the season,” says Hughes. “It’s very, very rich in character and story and plotline, and it discusses what art is, which I think is a beautiful way to open up a theatrical season.”
Wed, Oct 12 to Sat, Oct 22
Directed by Bethany Hughes
Walterdale Theatre, $12 – $18