“It’s a play like a New Orleans funeral,” says Artistic Director Ryan Guzzo Purcell about Marisol, playwright José Rivera’s Obie Award-winning cult classic. “It turns grief into rebirth. It understands that the end of one world is always the start of another.”
It’s that theme that makes Marisol a fitting return to the stage for The Williams Project, Seattle’s living wage theatre company and one of the most adventurous professional ensembles around. Like so many performing arts groups, the company hasn’t mounted a full production for a live, in-person audience since before the COVID-19 pandemic began. But now, they’re staging a comeback. The Williams Project’s Marisol, directed by Purcell, will run August 12 - 29, 2021 live outdoors at Georgetown’s Equinox Studios.
The play opens on Marisol Perez. She’s always followed the rules: get a good job, say your prayers, never look strangers in the eye. Mostly, it's kept her safe.
But the world is changing at the speed of light. When Marisol’s guardian angel visits her in the middle of the night to warn her that God is dying and the angels have declared war, all bets are off. She must set off on an epic quest to save herself and her loved ones, through a world where the vulnerable have been left behind.
A surreal comedy, full of poetry and destruction, Marisol is about finding fight, hope, laughter, and purpose when everything you know is upended and the End Times are already here. That makes it the perfect story for our exhilarating but anxious moment, as live arts re-awaken from the pandemic, says Purcell.
“This entire Williams Project season is about building a bridge back to communing together in a theatre,” Purcell explains. “We searched and searched for a show that could help us process this terrifying moment we’re in, but also move past it, and feel hope and connection again. Marisol is somehow able to do both so well. It gives us space and ritual, to recognize what’s lost and step into what’s next with love and joy.”
To present the show safely outdoors, The Williams Project is reviving its partnership with Equinox Studios, Georgetown’s sprawling, freewheeling complex of artist studios and galleries, and custom-building a stage and audience seating on the Equinox campus. While the challenge of crafting an outdoor venue from scratch might intimidate other theatres, The Williams Project feels right at home. Without a permanent venue of their own, the company has earned a reputation for passionate, unconventional stagings of modern classics, sometimes in churches, schools, courtyards, and other community spaces.
“Marisol is set in a familiar location, but then makes it strange and unfamiliar for the people who live in it,” says the production’s lead designer, An-lin Dauber. “What does it mean to take a potentially familiar, site-specific location in Seattle and transform it into the site of a celestial battle? I'm looking forward to surprising opportunities for audience engagement and a fully-created world that both actors and audience can inhabit.”
Marisol features an all-star cast of professional actors with deep roots on Seattle stages, who have appeared with Seattle Rep, Book-It Repertory Theatre, ArtsWest, Seattle Shakespeare, and more. Yadira Duarte leads the production in the titular role of Marisol, and Porsha Shaw, Alyssa Franks, Peter Sakowicz, and Miguel Castellano round out the ensemble. "The Williams Project's greatest strength always has been our incredible company of actors,” Purcell says. “Over the years, I've watched Yadira, Porscha, Peter, Miguel, and Alyssa shine on other stages, and I'm so delighted to have them join The Williams Project."
Make your long-awaited return to live theatre with a spectacular, immersive outdoor event – The Williams Project’s Marisol.
Marisol runs August 12-29, 2021, at Equinox Studios (6555 5th Ave S, Seattle, WA 98108). Tickets are available now for advance reservation online, Pay What You Can - $50. For more box office and show information, visit TheWilliamsProject.org, and check The Williams Project’s COVID-19 Audience Safety Plan for up-to-date health and safety guidelines.