Theater News

Intiman Plans to Reopen in 2012 with a Summer Festival

But the beleaguered theater still needs to raise $1 million.

By Laura Dannen November 14, 2011

Indiana native Andrew Russell is the new artistic director of Intiman Theatre.

Things are going to be different at Intiman Theatre from now on—emphasis on “different,” a word that came up a half-dozen times at today’s press conference as the debt-ridden regional theater tried to distance itself from the 2011 Season That Shall Not Be Named. With new artistic director Andrew Russell, a 28-year-old protégé of former AD Kate Whoriskey, officially in place, Intiman announced a four-play summer festival that’s both risky and inviting; over two months, theatergoers can see works by Shakespeare, Ibsen, and Dan Savage (yes, this Dan Savage) on the same stage.

Though Russell set the lineup, he says it’s the inspiration of the company’s new multidisciplinary repertory—a collector’s set of all-local actors, writers, directors, playwrights, choreographers, and musicians (see the full list below). “I won’t walk in and say, These are the six shows I’d like to do this season,” Russell said. “I will curate from the ideas the artists bring to the table.” Intiman will also rely on a new 12-actor ensemble for each production.

Slated for the summer is an adaptation of Romeo and Juliet, staged within the context of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, to be directed by Allison Narver; Ibsen’s Hedda Gabler, starring Marya Sea Kaminski with choreography by former PNB principal Olivier Wevers; a contemporary two-act play by director Valerie Curtis-Newton set inside the theater and in the courtyard; and whatever Dan Savage concocts. Four “very different” shows, hoping to draw “a lot of different people,” with a “new, different, fresh, exciting, young” artistic director at the helm (quote Intiman board president Terry Jones).

But Intiman still faces a crisis of confidence after canceling the 2011 season amid increasing debt and gross mismanagement: months of bookkeeping backlog, a dwindling endowment, and lapsed rent payments to Seattle Center, to name a few. Intiman cleaned house and hired arts consultant Susan Trapnell (who helped save ACT back in 2003) to take a look at the books. The recommendation: Stop spending money you don’t have.

“We needed to dial it back, do it smarter,” board president Jones said. “We heard be local… Be responsible. Be honest and transparent.” Hence the shortened summer season (a model for the foreseeable future), and a new fundraising goal of $1 million to cover 2012’s operational costs. If they don’t receive pledges for the entire sum by the end of January, no summer festival. As for the half-million raised during a fast and furious fundraising session last winter, that helped cover taxes and obligations to employees, but lingering debt will take anywhere from three to four years to pay off, Trapnell says.

For now, they need to focus on getting the theater up and running and restore institutional credibility. To start, they plan to offer subscribers free tickets to the 2012 season. But if they build it, will the audience come back?

Intiman’s artists
Donald Byrd (choreographer, director)
Valerie Curtis-Newton (director, educator)
Sheila Daniels (director)
Nick Garrison (actor)
Jose Gonzales (actor, musician)
Yussef el Guindi (playwright)
Marya Sea Kaminski (actor, writer, educator)
Etta Lillienthal and Ben Zamora (visual and performance design team)
Ludovic Morlot (music director of Seattle Symphony)
Allison Narver (director)
Michael Place (actor, director, producer)
Queer Teen Ensemble Theatre (local theatre program for LGBTQ youth)
Dan Savage (director, writer, activist)
Tommy Smith (playwright)
Olivier Wevers (choreographer)
Richard E.T. White (director, educator)
Robertson Witmer and the band "Awesome" (sound designer, band)
Jen Zeyl (designer)

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