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Friday, August 21, 2015

Join WCTNW at People's Park

People's Park in Tacoma, WA
Join us this Saturday, 8/22 at the Hilltop Street Fair. We will have a booth all day where you can meet us, and learn more about our upcoming season in our brand new space. At 1pm on the People's Park Stage, local actors Chevi Chung and Mark Peterson will perform the short comedy "The Sure Thing" by David Ives. Directed by Luke Amundson.

On Saturday 9/12, we will reprise this excellent performance at 5pm as part of the Spaceworks Community Celebration, with an added preview from our upcoming full length production "Enron" by Lucy Prebble. Directed by Michael Christopher, and starring a bevy of talented local actors.

We look forward to meeting you and hanging out at one or both of these fun, free, family friendly events!

Sunday, August 9, 2015


Monday August 10
Tuesday August 11
7:30 pm @ Tacoma Youth Theater
924 B Broadway, Tacoma

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Coming Soon! A theatre near you...

The Helen Hayes Theatre in New York

There are many exciting things afoot for Working Class Theatre NW. One very real possibility is a permanent theatre home here in Tacoma! I will share more soon. But there are things that I can talk about right now!

We are seeking directors and playwrights for our upcoming seasons. Have a play you've always wanted to direct? Not only are we looking to produce four shows a season, we are looking for one acts, play readings, and other theatre pieces to round out our performance offerings. Pitch your ideas to workingclasstheatrenw(at)gmail(dot)com

We will have a booth at the Hilltop Street Fair on August 22nd. Visit us in person! Learn about our upcoming seasons, awesome future plans, and give us input on what performing arts mean to you.
Because theatre is for everyone. Young, old, rich, poor- anyone can  tell a story.

Want to help Working Class Theatre NW build a permanent home in Tacoma? We are looking for volunteers at every level. We want your ideas, unique skills, passion for the arts and commitment to the working class community.

Ideas (not an exhaustive list) of how you could help:
Accounting, budgets, fundraising, grant writing, ad sales, marketing, social media, photography, carpentry, sewing, event planning, community outreach, graphic design, painting, taking tickets...
Extroverts- you can be an actor, director, audience member with distinct laughter, community outreach guru, ad sales specialist, board member....
Introverts- perhaps you'd like to sew costumes from home, produce social media content, build theatre apps, enjoy the company of other audience members without really having to interact, or serve on the board...
Theatre Professionals- why not teach a workshop, suggest ways WCTNW can improve, or serve on the board...
Theatre Newbies- come as you are! No need to dress up. You can bring friends, or enjoy a show on your own. Ask every question; we absolutely won't think you're stupid.

Thank you so much for making our first season a resounding success. We could not have done it without the support of actors, technicians, audiences, and other awesome people just like you. We look forward to collaborating with this community for many more years!

Friday, May 29, 2015

Rave Reviews for Life in the Theatre!

Backstage Drama- Mark Peterson (R) and Frank Thompson (L)
 Opening Night Tonight,  8pm at 733 Commerce! Life in the Theatre is back in Tacoma after a weekend in Olympia. You have 2 more weekends to share the drama onstage and off. Alec Clayton, of the Weekly Volcano, enthuses- "It is well staged, beautifully directed, and Peterson and Thompson are both outstanding."

A preview of the show, featuring an interview with the director Luke Amundson, was written by Molly Gilmore of the Olympian. Tickets are available at the door or online at Brown Paper Tickets.

Read more here: http://www.theolympian.com/2015/05/21/3738232/david-mamet-play-gives-audience.html#storylink=cpy
Onstage Drama- Frank Thompson and Mark Peterson

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Life in the Theatre- a play by David Mamet

Olympia: May 21–24
Tacoma: May 28–June 7

Tacoma’s Working Class Theatre NW (WCTNW) presents its third full-length production, David Mamet’s A Life in the Theatre, opening at Olympia’s Midnight Sun in a pay-what-you-will preview on May 21 and continuing with performances at Tacoma’s 733 Commerce through June 7. Tickets are $10–$12 and are on sale now. 

A Life in the Theatre is a play in one act written by David Mamet, Pulitzer Prize-winning author of Glengarry Glen Ross and Speed-The-Plow. Portraying the lives of two actors: John, young and rising into the first flush of his success; and Robert, older, anxious, and beginning to wane, in a series of short and increasingly raw exchanges, Mamet depicts the estrangement of youth from age and the wider, inevitable and endless cycle of life, in and out of the theatre.

Working Class Theatre NW’s production of A Life in the Theatre is directed by Luke Amundson and stars local actors Mark Peterson as John and Frank Thompson as Robert. Amundson is reviving the show (previously presented with the help of Spaceworks as a reading in 2013 and in preview form in 2014) as a fully staged production.

“I’m thrilled at the chance to return to direct A Life in the Theatre again with WCTNW and to have Frank Thompson and Mark Peterson returning to their roles,” stated Director Luke Amundson. “The play’s backdrop of two actors working on shows over the years is one of my favorite works of Mamet’s.  While the setting is wholly a theatrical one, their conflicts are all too familiar to any working environment of political positioning, petty arguments, and friendships that spring from unlikely scenarios."

A Life in the Theatre opens at The Midnight Sun at 113 N. Columbia St. in downtown Olympia with a pay-what-you-can preview on May 21, with performances on May 22, 23, and 24, before reopening on the third floor of Tacoma venue 733 Commerce, for a pay-what-you-can preview on May 28 and performances May 29, 30, and 31 and June 5, 6, 7, and 8. All performances are at 8:00 p.m.

Suggested donation is $12 for general tickets and $10 for students, seniors, military and union members. Tickets are available online through Brown Paper Tickets, or at the door.

Working Class Theater Northwest was founded in 2013 by Christina Hughes and Tim Samland. The nonprofit community theater was honored with a mention in The Weekly Volcano’s Best of 2014 issue. Working Class Theater Northwest’s mission is to provide and encourage an inexpensive, high-quality theatre experience that is grounded in the diverse culture of Tacoma. 

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Stay Tuned for A Life in the Theatre

Mark Peterson (L) and FrankThompson
You may remember this staged reading from November 2013- A Life in the Theatre by David Mamet.

If you missed it, don't despair! We are re-mounting this show at the end of May for the full three week run it deserves. Stay tuned for more information!

Monday, February 9, 2015

Dramaturg Notes- Sunset Limited

by Josh Holcomb
Woe to the bloody city- Nahum 3:1

When, in “The Sunset Limited,” God sends the character Black, like Jonah to Ninevah, to be his brother’s keeper in New York City, Cormac McCarthy is invoking traditions both biblical and American. The development-- and therefore loss-- of the frontier was a common theme in Western literature even before historian Frederick Jackson Turner’s 1893 essay “The Significance of the Frontier in American History” formalized its position. Turner posited that the presence of a frontier has contributed more to the formation of the American character than any other factor. With its closing, something basic is lost, and we have been trying ever since to recover it.

The landscape of Western literature is strewn with heroes who, by making the frontier safe for civilization, lose their own place in it. Shane epitomizes the frontiersman riding into the sunset, but only a short time later the cold fact of the Pacific ocean eliminates that option. “Where from here?” ask the Pacific Northwesterners in Ken Kesey’s Sometimes a Great Notion. Sailor Song tries to answer “Alaska,” but that answer is unsatisfactory. “Space” says Star Trek, but space remains un-colonized and the few feeble attempts at exploration are characterized by massive government projects-- a far cry from the rugged individuals striking out on their own who opened up the American frontier. The father in Walter Van Tilberg Clark’s The Track of the Cat thinks that because his sons haven’t gone off to carve their own ranches from the wilderness, they lack character. But the harsh truth is, there are no unclaimed box canyons left for them. The protagonist only achieves even the possibility of adulthood when his brothers are killed, leaving him sole heir. Men who once rode into the sunset like Shane, instead, like Tom Doniphon in “The Man who Shot Liberty Valance,” end up street alcoholics in the emerging cities.

But if an objection to cities is a prevalent theme in Western American literature, it positively dominates the Bible. The Tower of Babel, Sodom and Gomorrah, Noah’s flood, all stories about god destroying cities that have become too overbuilt and prosperous. In the story of Cain and Abel, god prefers the sacrifice of the nomadic herdsman to that of the sedentary farmer. Goliath is a giant in armor; this implies farms, mines, smelters and forges. Surely he is the product of a city. David kills him with a sling, the weapon of a shepherd.

If you ever took a course in Bible as literature, you were likely told that the dominant theme is the cyclical nature of the covenant between God and Israel. The covenant gets broken, the covenant gets renewed. Yet even this pattern reflects God’s aversion to cities. Over and over, a prophet is sent to a city. Amos, the oldest book in the Bible, typifies the warnings:
Your wife shall be a harlot in the city, and your sons and daughters shall fall by the sword, and your land shall be parceled out by line.
Amos 7:17
Note that having all the land measured, divided, owned, is considered a curse. And when, after each destruction has run its course, and the cities laid waste, God at last relents and allows the covenant to be renewed, the language of that renewal almost inevitably shows him to be a God of nomads. Consider  Hosea 10:9 “I am the Lord your God from the land of Egypt; I will again make you dwell in tents as in the days of the appointed feast.” Or Isaiah 32:16 “Then justice will dwell in the wilderness.”

Of recent years the theme of the closing of the American frontier has sometimes risen to biblical proportions, not just the valleys choked with cabbages and people, but the entire earth laid desolate. McCarthy’s The Road takes place in a landscape devoid of life, save for a few humans eating each other because there is nothing else left to eat. Walter M. Miller Jr.’s A Canticle for Leibowitz, a novel normally classified as science fiction, but with strong Western themes, is set in the wilderness of Utah between two nuclear wars. It ends with a priest standing in the doorway of a spaceship, beating the dust from his sandals before leaving the Earth forever. This invocation of Acts suggests the entire earth has become one city that has rejected the word of God.

By biblical standards, the Earth has indeed become one city, its farms and mines and oilfields all feeding the beast. Capitalism, the idolization of greed, has proven very successful at developing resources. However, another term for “developing” is “using up.” We don’t have to look up very far from our own struggles of acquisition to see the way we are using up our planet: we’re not just running out of oil, but out of trees, land, air and water. There is little wilderness left in which to prepare the way of the Lord. Whether you read the Bible as historical fact or allegorical truth, or reject it completely, few of us can now believe that our current society will last much longer. Unlike biblical prophets, Black doesn’t have to convince White that his path leads to destruction. White is fully persuaded of that. Instead, Black’s task is to show that there could yet be some other outcome.

This also seems to be the task McCarthy has set for himself. “The Sunset Limited” appears to tell, in black and white, McCarthy’s frustration that it is easier to communicate the collapse of civilization (White’s worldview), than how to avert it (Black’s worldview). And he’s right. Apparently Mr. McCarthy has been writing messages of Christian hope right along. But which of us comes away from Blood Meridian comforted by the knowledge that God watches over us, or from The Road hopeful that the boy’s spirit will break the endless iterations of mindless growth and inevitable collapse. It’s a hard message to hear, but we’d better start listening.

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Why Sunset Limited?

I often ask why. Why not, why me, why now, why, god why? Sometimes, this is self-indulgent pity-party ranting. But sometimes, it leads me to the heart of something that has been bothering me. When I attend theatre, I subject it to the same line of questioning. Why this play? Why now? Why should I care?

Too often, the answer is money- this play is being performed because the theatre desperately needs money and this play is a vehicle to obtain the necessary funds. This is reasonable on some level; I don’t want to see any more arts staff out of the few jobs that are available. But it’s not an answer that fulfills my desire to participate in quality art. Plays produced for the money often rely on spectacle and that’s just not what interests me.

That’s not to say that good art cannot or should not make money. Some of the best shows I’ve seen in the last few years have been at the Seattle Repertory Theatre and they have a huge budget. I am, however, tired of sitting through productions where I feel that the commercial transaction I made in purchasing a ticket is more important to the theater than the production in front of me. Tired too, of plots with no relevance to me, or those plays which actively talk down to me as a woman, a poor person, or someone looking for quality art. I am deeply tired of shows that are over-produced because they are easy and audiences love them. Ahem, Christmas shows, anyone?

To be completely fair, I must subject my own shows to the rigors of questioning and scorn that I am poised to heap on the hard work of others. Why Sunset Limited? Why now? And why should you care? I will confess, I tried and failed to read Blood Meridian, Cormac McCarthy’s critically acclaimed novel. It was extremely masculine to the degree that I felt there was no point of entry for a female reader. But I loved the movie version of his novel The Road, because it told a story I cared about. What happens to ordinary people when the world collapses around them?

If The Road asks that question on the scale of society, Sunset Limited asks that question of two individual men. One man (Black) was almost killed in a prison fight; he chose to spread the word of god in the hopes of saving people before they were subjected to a similar fate. Another man (White) becomes slowly disillusioned with his life, and the impact that intellectual reasoning has on his soul. He attempts to end his suffering through suicide. But if these options weigh down opposite ends of the scale, the debate that rages in the middle is one that impacts everyone in our society. What is the value of ministering to the poor? What is the value of an education? Is religion a weakness or a calling?

I have seen story after story in the news about religious fanaticism. At the same time, religion is considered an impolite topic of discussion. Limiting our discussion of religion out of fear of fanaticism allows fear and division to flourish. Ignoring racism accomplishes the same task. Sunset Limited brings these topics into the open and creates dialogue- the first step to understanding a problem is to acknowledge its existence.

It’s so easy to plan for the worst, gather your guns and guard yourself and selected loved ones against the oncoming horde. But that horde is not faceless and nameless- they are someone’s sisters, mothers, husbands, friends. So you can build a fiefdom and spend all of your time and energy defending it. Or you can change the world so that you don’t need a fiefdom to begin with. What will make your neighbor seem less scary? What will make your neighborhood more safe? Reaching out and starting a conversation is a good first step. 

If this production of Sunset Limited starts that conversation, then it has done its artistic job of holding a mirror to society and asking- is this who we are? Is this where we want to go? That is why this play is important to me; because it asks difficult questions in a meaningful way about relevant issues. This production will entertain you, but you will not leave empty minded.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Meet the Actors!

Jack House (L) and Aaron Bredlau (R) rehearsing.
 Sunset Limited may have a small cast, but they are mighty talented. Below is a look at some of the area shows they've been in. It's so exciting to have them onstage together!

Aaron Bredlau is an actor and bedroom musician living in Tacoma. He is very pleased and excited to be working with Working Class Theatre Northwest for the first time in this production of “The Sunset Limited”. This is his first play in Tacoma. In Olympia, Aaron appeared in Prodigal Sun’s “Crazy And A Half” as Dr. Peter Little in "In Other Words" and as Teddy Moore in "They Can't Take That Away From Me." The role of Teddy was the first time that Aaron worked with director Tim Samland. Aaron appeared in the Theatre Artist Olympia’s Improbable Peck Of Plays 3D, playing  Spike in "Next Stop: Reckoning" and the Therapist in "Guido In Therapy."  He is a recurrent performer Lord Franzannian's Royal Olympian Spectacular Vaudeville Show. Some of his favorite characters were Artist Sylvester Simon, Lacto Man, A Mime, The Cheese, Arnold the Sock Puppet and Farmer Henry to name a few. As young lad Aaron played Francis Flute in "A Midsummer Night's Dream", Rick Steadman in "The Nerd" and other comedic roles. “The Sunset Limited” is his first drama and he is very happy to be in this play.

Jack House is new to Working Class Theatre NW, but not the Tacoma acting scene.  Previous shows in Tacoma include Dukesbay Theater’s “Java Tacoma Episode 4” and Broadway Center's staged reading of "Radio Golf".  He has performed in Tacoma Musical Playhouse's production of "The Color Purple".   You may have also caught Jack in Olympia Little Theater's "A Few Good Men" or their staged reading of “Good People”.  The Lakewood Playhouse has cast Jack in "A Raisin in the Sun", "Once on This Island", "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest", and “You Can’t Take it With You”.  Jack showcased his voice in Gig Harbor in Encore Theater’s musicals “Suessical” and “Oliver”.  At the Evergreen Playhouse in Centralia he made people laugh throughout "Proposals" and "45 Seconds From Broadway".  Jack has appeared in over 16 productions since 2006.

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Upcoming Show!

Barely a month away, The Sunset Limited marks Working Class Theatre NW's second full length production. After our successful debut of School for Lies last September, we are taking a break from the satirical farce to bring you something more suited for the depths of winter. A meaty play that feeds your brain while your body waits for the days to lengthen and the temperatures to rise.

Sunset Limited is a theatrical offering by renowned author  Cormac McCarthy- famous for such chipper films as The Road (a post apocalyptic father/ son/ cannibal travelogue) and No Country for Old Men ( a modern western nearly Shakespearean in its death toll).  Unlike the majority of his novels (eg. Blood Meridian, All the Pretty Horses, and the Crossing) Sunset Limited takes place not in the expansive ranches or wilderness, but in a cramped apartment in a poverty struck area of town. Black (the apartment dweller) has just rescued White (a local college professor) from throwing himself in front of a train. From that chance meeting, this story explores the depths of faith and conviction that lead these two men on such opposing paths.