Red – What does Parkway Playhouse Artistic Director (Andrew Gall) See?
John Logan’s play Red, on the surface, falls into the kind of plays that I usually don’t find interesting; that is to say ‘New York’ plays that talk about art, being Jewish, and name-drops people like Friedrich Nietzsche. These kinds of plays always seem to win a boatload of awards and generate a lot of buzz. Many, in my opinion, can be summed up and dismissed with Shakespeare’s famous quote about a lot of “sound and fury signifying nothing”. I don’t usually find these plays interesting.
Make no mistake, Red is a ‘New York’ play, that not only name-drops but discusses, at length, Nietzche, as well as Jackson Pollack, Phillip Johnson, Andy Warhol, and more. It won a ton of awards, deservedly so, and it is most definitely talks about art. However, Red is different, and I think it is a fascinating and profoundly stimulating play.
What won me over?
The play is short, but tautly written. John Logan, as it turns out, is a gifted scribe and, unsurprisingly, one of the best screenwriters around. Did you like the films Gladiator? Hugo? Skyfall? All written by Mr. Logan. Red gets to the point, wows you with its unexpected power, and then wraps it up. I found myself thinking about this play for days after I read it. There are not many plays that I can say that about, and I read lots of plays.
As someone who is primarily an artist, I found that the play captured and articulated what it is like to be an artist and what good art is inspired by. (Hint: not fortune or fame.) The play talks about how visual art can and should be appreciated. The characters in Red are engaged in being creative and curious. I loved the fact that the artists in Red were not flakey or difficult to understand. They are ordinary people dealing with extraordinary pressures. At one point, Mark Rothko exclaims to his assistant, (the only other character in the play) that he is “here to stop your heart! I am here to make you think! I am not here to paint pretty pictures.”
This play is about something that really happened in 1958/9. It was a moment when art won over commerce and I wanted our students and our community to see this and think about why that happens in the play. It is a powerful thing to see someone uphold their values.
I am writing this after our show opened and we have been given a lot of praise in print and some good word-of-mouth, which I am grateful for. I hope that you will join us for one of the performances remaining in the run. As one reviewer put it “A Mighty fine investment of 90 minutes.” I couldn’t agree more.
Parkway Playhouse, located in the Appalachian town of Burnsville, NC, is a haven of theatre talent. While people come to the mountains to get away, Parkway Playhouse is a natural gathering place to connect. Likewise, we are an extension of traditional mountain talents: singing, dancing, and, foremost, storytelling. By giving rise to energetic new voices and through a wide variety of plays and musicals, we invite our audience into experiences that are thought-provoking, adventurous, and entertaining. Together we reimagine the world in every live performance, creating dynamic conversations that last far beyond the curtain call.
This blog is will feature stories, helpful information, insight and features about the performances.
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