During Artistic Director Gordon Edelstein’s tenure as leader of ACT Theatre in Seattle over a decade ago, he immersed himself in the city’s robust underground theatre scene. One local company, Printer’s Devil, consistently produced work he found exciting and adventuresome. Kip Fagan and Heidi Schreck, the director and playwright of the world premiere of The Consultant (and also a married couple), were at the heart of that enterprise.
“It is especially pleasurable to welcome Heidi and Kip to Long Wharf Theatre,” Edelstein said at the first rehearsal of The Consultant, held earlier this week. “Their work really excited me … now, they are in New York City, both successful in their own right.”
That’s a bit of an understatement. Fagan is a much praised and sought after director. Schreck, in addition to her Obie Award-winning acting career and her well-reviewed work as a playwright, is currently writing for the television series “Nurse Jackie.”
Fagan thanked Edelstein for his assistance in the crucial early phase of their career – he provided them free rehearsal space, an invaluable commodity to a young artist, and feedback on their work. “He was a very important person to our theatre company,” Fagan said. “It feels very comforting to have a sense of history, working with people you’ve known a long time,” said Schreck.
Schreck addressed the collected Long Wharf Theatre staff, talking about the personal inspiration for her new play, a piece that mixes aspects of screwball comedy with serious consequences for the characters. Schreck, like her lead character of Amelia, played by Clare Barron, moved from a small West Coast town to New York City and worked at a pharmaceutical marketing company. “I had to think about what the play is about because I’m doing this (press) interview later,” she joked. “I think this piece is about the ways we take care of each other. Who are we to each other? I am excited to explore that.”
Fagan gave the Long Wharf Theatre staff a brief talk about the set, a place where the environment reflects the unsteady nature of the economy at the time. “There is a sense of class about the place, elegance, and scale, but there is a sharpness that won’t let you stay in one place,” he said of the lobby of the pharmaceutical company where the play is set.
He then lead the company’s first read through of the script. He spoke at length to the actors, outlining his vision for the play, and assuring them that they would be working fast, shooting for run-throughs after a week or so of rehearsal. The room cleared out except for a few administrators, the stage management team, and the actors, and work began.
The Consultant runs from January 8 through December 9, 2014 on Stage II.
– Steve Scarpa