By Randi Somers
Pier One Theatre features author John Logan’s “Red” again this weekend, following a successful three nights of performance.
The true story of artist Mark Rothko’s search for the meaning of his existence, the play won six Tony awards on Broadway in 2010, including best play and best direction.
Homer local Marc Oliver directs — and plays artist Rothko. Johnny Hamilton is his young assistant, Ken, who questions Rothko’s theories and philosophy as he searches for the significance of life and his art.
Oliver wrote, “It is optimism versus negativity, cynicism against idealism. Rothko is south of the tideline, determined not to move toward one or the other.
“But the tide still moves him. He is so determined to sit in the middle; he spends his life trying to earn that balance. In the end, that’s what drove him to suicide (not shown in the play). He lost control of cynicism and was swallowed up by the lack of an ideal that followed. In this play, audiences experience the beginning of that shift, or the first time someone gets close enough to see it.”
The play is set in Rothko’s New York studio in 1958-1959, where he is painting a set of murals for the expensive and exclusive Four Seasons Restaurant at a hefty price. He loudly voices his negative thoughts about the significance of his art and his life to his assistant, Ken.
Ken, however, brashly questions Rothko’s theories of art and life and his accepting such a commercial project; the murals for rich people’s restaurant.
Originating in London and playing on Broadway in New York and numerous other venues, “Red” the play about Rothko’s later period won the 2010 Drama League Award. It was nominated for seven Tony Awards and won six including best play. It is described as an intense and exciting bio-drama about the abstract explored by a confused but brilliant mind with a sense of urgency that is part hope and part despair. A reviewer wrote that it deftly conjures the exhilaration and soul searching pain of the attempt to understand the significance of a person’s chosen lifestyle.
“Red” will be performed at Pier One Theatre, on the Spit, on June 5, 6 and 7.
The play starts at 7:30.
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