Theatre B Paints Season Premiere ‘Red’
Published: Wednesday, September 18, 2013
Updated: Wednesday, September 18, 2013 14:09
Ten seasons have been surpassed at Theatre B on Main Avenue, and the 11th season premiere is upon the area now. Chosen to usher in the season of four shows is “Red” by John Logan, a play that poses questions of art and philosophy between its two characters.
“‘Red’ is about the big questions of a few things,” guest director Lori Koenig said. “First of all, what is art? What makes art? And, as far as the artist is concerned, when do you decide that it’s okay to sell out or get paid a bunch of money for your art when you don’t really agree with that idea.”
Mark Rothko, real-life abstract expressionist, is faced with these questions in “Red” when commissioned by the Four Seasons restaurant to paint several murals.
“This play is about that journey between when he gets the commission and when he decides to give up the commission,” Koenig said.
While Rothko wrestles with whether or not to sell out, his assistant (the fictitious Ken) is there the whole way to help his superior. Together, the two tackle a wide variety of deeper questions.
“They have these conversations about art and tragedy and expressionism and cubism and all this kind of stuff,” Koenig said. “And they make lots of allusions to lots of artists and to Nietzsche and all kinds of things.”
Portraying the two characters are Hardy Koenig, NDSU theatre professor/Theatre NDSU artistic director and the guest director’s husband, as Mark Rothko, and Blaine Edwards, an NDSU graduate, as his fictitious assistant. Why these two were cast for the only parts in “Red” is simple, Koenig said.
“At the time that this is set, it’s 1958, and Rothko was in his 50s—late 40s, early 50s—and so, I mean, age-wise, it works,” Koenig said. “Hardy, he’s a theatre professor, but he has done a lot of training as an actor, and there were a couple other people who auditioned but he just had the right combination of physical characteristics [and acting abilities].”
“There has to be a big contrast between the character of Mark and the character of Ken because of their ages, and also we need somebody with enough life experience to understand Ken ‘cause he’s got his own sort of dramatic arc, I would say, but I don’t want to give that away,” she said. “And Blaine just had all the things, and when they auditioned together, you know, when as a director, when you’re auditioning different people, you have different people read scenes with different people, and so when the two of them would read together, it was just kinda clear to me that these two would work well together.”
Both actors remain onstage the whole time throughout the 90-minute play, which does not have an intermission. While the main issue at the heart of “Red” is Rothko’s philosophical questions of art, both characters have their respective arcs and grow throughout the show.
“In terms of the dramatic weight, I think they’re both pretty good,” Koenig said. “One wouldn’t really succeed without the other.”
“Red” is presented Sept. 19 to Oct. 12, with a Sunday matinee on Oct. 6 at Theatre B at 716 Main Ave. Tickets are $20 for adults, $17 for Sunday matinee seniors, $10 for students and $5 for Thursday evening students. Tickets are available by phone at 701-729-8880 or at the box office prior to performances.