Theatre Xtra is examining art in their latest production of John Logan’s “Red,” which runs in the David Spinks Theatre, Oct. 27- 29.
Taking place at the end of the ’50s, the 2010 Tony award winning two man play examines a moment in the life of abstract impressionist artist Mark Rothko who has just earned a lucrative commission for the Four Seasons Restaurant in New York City, and his young apprentice, who is tuned into the burgeoning pop art movement.
“But you don’t need to know anything about art or Mark Rothko to enjoy the play,” said director Margaret Rodgers.
“John Logan has taken a very specific event in Mark Rothko’s life and created a compelling story around it,” she continued.
She didn’t know a lot about Rothko until she read the play.
“ It is a very challenging play. There is a lot of music and props and very complex and interesting characters,” she said.
“We watch Rothko struggle with his mural and with the changing definitions of art,” she said.
She has enjoyed watching actors Mark Grayson Ogle, who plays Rothko and Ryan Reese who plays Ken, the apprentice, explore their roles.
They have been working on the production since Oct. 1, so had to pull it together very quickly.
“It’s been very stressful but it has been a great challenge for all of us,” she said.
Actor Ryan Reese, who has been in two other Theatre Xtra productions including Muse Control and Unidentified Human Remains, has embraced the challenge.
“ This has been quite the learning experience,” he said.
“He and Rothko come from different generations. He’s pretty quiet at first, until he gets comfortable. Then he starts to challenge Rothko more and becomes more vocal because he is more involved with the pop art movement,” Reese said of his character.
“The biggest challenge has been learning a lot of new words— big words and artistic terms,” he said adding he didn’t know much about Rothko or the two art movements explored, but being involved with the production has encouraged him to learn more— especially as the two actors actually paint on stage.
“ I’ve enjoyed the painting,” he said adding he enjoys being part of Theatre Xtra productions.
“ It’s a completely student run theatre company. So that makes the University of Lethbridge really stand out. We learn a lot,” he said.
Red takes place at 8 p.m. Oct. 27-29 each night in the David Spinks Theatre, plus a matinee on Saturday afternoon.
Get your tickets at the University Box Office (W510, Centre for the Arts), Monday – Friday, 12:30 pm – 3:30 pm or by calling (403) 329-2616. Tickets are $11 regular, $7 seniors/students.