Monday, April 29, 2013

how to write | artistic director's notes

Normally, Artistic Director's notes show up in the program. Not this time. I was away in Chile when the time came - yup, Ron Reed, World Traveler - so the program had to go to press bereft of my verbiage. But I'm stoked about this show - saw it on opening night, last Friday, and it's GORGEOUS - so I ended up jotting a few jottings anyhow. That's what blogs are for...

playwright Bill Cain, S.J.

A year ago, when I was putting the finishing touches on the line-up for our 2013-14 season, I heard from a Seattle friend who had just seen How To Write A New Book For The Bible at Seattle Rep. "Pacific Theatre has to do this play! It's perfect for you guys." So I fired off an email to the playwright.

A week or two later, a text from Frank Nickel, who's in the lobby at Seattle Rep. "We have to do this play!" It was a great, if petty, pleasure to text him back and say "Hey, I'm already on it." But yeah, his email made me read the script pronto, and wow. Our scouts were right. Just that quick, it was in the season.

How To Write A New Book For The Bible was written by Bill Cain - who, as well as being one of the most highly honoured new playwrights in America, is a Jesuit priest. (Here's a link to more about him, and his unprecedented back-to-back wins of the prestigious American Theatre Critics’ Association / Steinberg Award). Such a gorgeous play: funny, truthful, and not at all afraid to be straight-up Christian.

Amazingly, it was commissioned by two of the major theatres on the West Coast - Berkeley Rep and Seattle Rep - not companies with any sort of faith mandate. Thirty years ago when I started Pacific Theatre, I wouldn't have believed this kind of play would be developed by theatres like that. It's pure Pacific Theatre - and we didn't even have to write it!

I find it ironic that the title would be brash and audacious at the Berkeley or Seattle companies, but risks keeping people away at PT, with our well-known spiritual perspective. Their audiences would find it risky and refreshing, maybe ironic: ours might very well think "that sounds too religious," too earnest, maybe Sunday-School-ish. Well, it's not. Trust me on this. It's a key chapter in the unfolding story of Pacific Theatre – one of my personal favourites.

How To Write A New Book For The Bible runs until May 25, 8pm shows Wednesday through Saturday, plus 2pm Saturday matinees. Tickets online, or afternoons at our box office: 604 731-5518.

No comments: