A fresh take on Shakespeare, new works from local artists, and a brilliant new book from the former Seattle Civic Poet all take stage this week. Here’s what I’d focus on if I ran your agenda.
For performances April 7-10.
Seattle Shakespeare: Drum & Colours: Henry IV
Closing Sunday at the Seattle Center
A fresh take on the history play
Henry IV, like so many of Shakespeare’s historical takes, is about an “ambitious” (read: throne-grabbing) family member who sets off a whole big bloody brawl. But its trimmed-down run-time, intriguing design elements, and energetic cast inject a new excitement into this Henry IV, the latest in Seattle Shakes’ Drum and Colours series.
Sara Porkalob is no doubt the biggest marquee name in the cast, and her bombastic Hotspur squaring off with Jesse Calixto’s animated Falstaff is a delightful match-up. The whole thing, bursting with well-known local actors, is well cast, with Kathy Hsieh’s certain, icy stare as the title monarch, Rhys Daly’s youthful energy, and Ayo Tushinde’s measured determination among them.
Design elements bring it out of the centuries-ago and into some unspecified time and place, with something of a sci-fi dystopian feel lurking in the background. The pulsing soundscape by Stephon Dorsey brings in an ever-present energy without overpowering. Costumes by Taya Pyne are at once suggestive of futuristic battle and swordfights of yore. A minimalist set by Parmida Ziaei lets some really cool shadow work play out, with lighting designs by S Franco and Fernando Rocha. This whole production concept sizzles.
The energy and feel hearkens back to Upstart Crow’s 2017 production (with Seattle Shakes) of the Henry VI trilogy in Bring Down the House (Parts I & II). If Shakespeare looked like this more often, I’d be a lot more interested.
Adapted by Lamar Legend. Directed by S Franco. Featuring Jesse Calixto, Rhys Daly, Rachel Guyer-Mafune, Janet Hayatshahi, Kathy Hsieh, Sara Porkalob, Darius Sakui, Ayo Tushinde, and Bob Williams; understudies Pilar O’Connell and Malex Reed.
See Seattle Create
Friday & Saturday, various locations
New plays, new dance work, fresh monologues
This weekend features a bunch of blink-and-you’ll-miss-it shows by locally based artists.
Tonight only, watch top teens compete in the regional finals of the Next Narrative Monologue Competition, as they perform new monologues by Black playwrights on Seattle Rep’s mainstage. A cohort will also perform the brand-new work, The State of the Students, by Rachel Atkins.
Catch more new work from local playwrights around the city, as two matinee readings vie for your attention tomorrow: Tenderness by Nelle Tankus, from Copious Love Productions at 18th & Union; and Mangrove Park by Brendan Healy, at Seattle Public Theater. And an alternating cast performs the world premiere production of Jim Moran’s Refugees in the Garden City, a co-production from Pratidhwani and ReAct Theatre, which runs through next weekend at Taproot’s studio theatre.
Tonight and tomorrow night, Velocity Dance Center presents Black Collectivity: A Practice of Return, in which a supergroup of dance-makers performs new work created over a year-long process of researching, responding, and creating. The work by Nia-Amina Minor, David Rue, marco farroni, and Akoiya Harris, developed through Velocity’s Made in Seattle residency, is inspired by the continuous legacy of Black dance artists in Seattle, including the reimagining of a 1940 solo performance by Syvilla Fort.
Across the water, on Vashon, Tacoma-based musician and theatre artist Stephanie Anne Johnson commemorates their latest album (Jewels, just released today) with a concert at Open Space. There are a few more album release shows throughout the month, including in Tacoma (4/15) and at the Triple Door in Seattle (4/28). You might know them from The Voice, Village Theatre’s Hairspray, daily pandemic songs, or live performances on stages all over town, but these intimate shows are a good way to get up close with Johnson’s unique blend of country-tinged, backroads-ready blues, with a grin and a glimmer.
Show info and tickets: Monologue competition (here), Nelle Tankus reading (here), Brendan Healy reading (here), Refugees in the Garden City (here), Black Collectivity (here), and Stephanie Anne Johnson (here).
Buy This Book
On shelves now; events throughout the week
Anastacia-Reneé returns to Seattle to perform segments from her brand-new book
Side Notes From the Archivist, with a cover stealthily labeled “poems,” is almost impossible to classify: self-aware as it defies categorization, shifting shape and style throughout. It’s a collage, a montage, a diary; an encyclopedia of the ’80s and now; a guidebook for well-intentioned diversity officers and a devotional for those laboring under their watch; a chronicle of pop culture and long cafeteria benches; a prophesy of the next days and next door.
This is a book that meets anyone where they’re at, without going shallow. It’s a volume for quiet hours of reflection and bite-sized one-minute grabs. Its slight stature fits in a back pocket (and yes, I’ve toted it around that way) but roams a universe of thought and creative energy.
Their rhythm is apparent in the lines on a page, but hearing Anastacia-Reneé read her work in person is an experience unto itself. This week she’s in town (from New York, where she relocated recently) and reading at a few events: joining Quenton Baker (primary reader) and Jane Wong at Elliott Bay Book Company on Monday, 4/10 (info here); joined by Quenton Baker in Black Culture Through a Feminist Lens at Town Hall on Thursday, 4/13 (info here); and joined by Kamari Bright back at Elliott Bay Books on Friday, 4/14 (info here). Later on, she’ll return for a conversation with local librarian, researcher, and writer Zola Mumford on 4/27 at Third Place Books in Seward Park (info here), along with a visit to Portland’s landmark Powell’s Books on 4/28 (info here).
See book info (Amistad/HarperCollins) here.