Often in contemporary theatre, plays demonstrate the worst of humanity—in 2019 a tone of nihilism permeates society and by extension, the art that acts as a mirror.
However, Theatre22 is doing something a little different. They are opening their fifth season with a Festival of Revolution, which will include two plays—The Revolutionist and White—performed in rotation. With two these shows and with their larger mission, Theatre22 strives to celebrate hope and healing to the community through theatre.
We talk with the Founder and Producing Artistic Director Corey McDaniel about Theatre22’s vision and what to expect from their upcoming Festival.
Ciara Caya: Theatre22 is about to begin its fifth season, which makes it a relatively new theatre company. Did you see something that was missing in Seattle’s existing theatre offerings that you wanted to provide?
Corey McDaniel: We in Seattle are blessed with an incredibly vibrant theatre scene and so many extremely talented theatre artists. Theatre22 came into being to create innovative ways to bring together many of these exceptional and underutilized artists to work on projects that made us excited and hopeful; that gave us energy to move forward; and that helped us channel our creative energies into making a positive impact on the world around us.
Rather than choosing scripts that wallow in the darkness around us, we want to explore ways to embrace the broken-ness of our humanity, but, ultimately, to move toward the light. As we identify in our mission statement, Theatre22 is committed to producing exceptional live theatre that engages a diverse community of artists and audiences, inspires new ways of interpreting the world around us, and celebrates hope and healing.
In addition to choosing plays that are constructive, Theatre22 focuses on works that discuss diversity and equity. What else, besides play selection, does Theatre22 do to ensure the productions are accessible for a diverse audience?
First and foremost, Theatre22 hopes to be deeply engaged with our community. Of course there is always more to do and there is never enough time or person-power! But we strive to listen and learn from those around us, to challenge ourselves and others to come to new understandings, and to continue to grow with our artists and our audience. We also strive to reach out to new people with every show and to personally connect with each person who comes through the door to let them know how important they are to our process. For us, it is all about connection. That is the joy of doing theatre! What could be more exciting and satisfying?
Speaking of the joy of theatre, let’s talk a little about Theatre22’s upcoming productions. Even though they take place over 200 years apart and in two different countries, The Revolutionists and White both examine the oppression of women and people of color. Why do you find it beneficial to pair these two plays together in a festival? What do you hope the audience gains from watching these plays in sequence?
A primary part of our vision is to do thought-provoking and belief-challenging works. Both of the plays in our festival fit this vision, in different ways. Both explore voices that have been undervalued and marginalized. Both ask questions about how we can make changes in our world to face the harsh realities of covert and overt violence. Both explore questions of art and activism, of feminism and intersectionality, of who gets to tell the story, and what does redemption look like. We believe that people will leave the theatre with good questions, and that the questions will inform each other and will ultimately help us be better witnesses to the people in the world who most need to be heard.
In addition to the two productions which will be performed during the Festival of Revolution, there will also be community events. Can you tell us a little more about these?
Because we are so excited about the ways audiences will respond to our productions, we are planning to bring artists and audiences together to engage in several post-play discussions during the run of our shows. We’re also excited to provide several opportunities to see both shows in one day and will have staff around to engage with audiences in between shows. In addition, we have reached out to a number of new communities, providing tickets and post-play gatherings to encourage dialogue both in the theatre and beyond. We’re always exploring new ways to connect and would love to hear from audiences both in person and in online conversation.
To join Theatre22 in the conversation, attend the Festival of Revolution. The Revolutionists and White will be running in rotation October 18–November 9 at 12th Avenue Arts. Single tickets and specially priced festival package tickets are available online.