Endangered Species Project

For those of you who haven’t yet discovered the riches of the Endangered Species Project (ESP), read on! You’ll thank me for introducing you to this group that one Monday night each month presents a staged reading of one of yester year’s great plays, one that’s unlikely to be produced today because of the large cast and high costs of production. These are plays by such greats as O’Neil, O’Casey, Wilde, Shaw, Anderson, Wodehouse, Foote; the list goes on and on.

Now in its fifth season, the group has attracted a devoted audience for its performances. It’s not surprising considering the company has brought to its stage many of Seattle’s most esteemed actors led by some of Seattle’s most gifted directors. Many of them are core members of ESP

The October 12, 2015 offering was the 1918 fairytale for grownups “Dear Brutus” by J. M. Barrie (remember, he’s the man best known for “Peter Pan”). The “Dear Brutus” cast included Suzanne Bouchard, Larry Paulsen, Jen Taylor, and nine other top-notch performers whose characters in the course of the evening learned a great deal about themselves and their partners, much to the glee of the audience.

Next month (November) it will be Brecht’s 1941 play, “The Resistible Rise of Arturo UI,” a parody of 1930s gangster movies. It traces the career of a cheap Chicago hoodlum and his gang. R. Hamilton Wright takes on the main role, that of a thug who bears a striking resemblance to Hitler. One is meant to make the connection between the Chicago goons and all the evil leaders of the Third Reich in this satirical allegory. Brecht has much to say about the role government and corporations played in their rise to power. A timely subject don’t you think?

Richard Ziman, one of the founders and leaders of ESP, notes that it’s a parody “as high minded as ‘Julius Caesar’ and as deep as ‘King Lear’.” ACT actually produced this play some 30 years ago, so ESP views its production, in some ways, as homage to ACT, now the company’s home.

Offered but once a month, always on a Monday night when most theatres are dark, the Endangered Species Project is a jewel in Seattle’s theatrical treasure chest.

Endangered Species Project.org,
Tickets at: www.acttheatre.org/Tickets/OnStage/EndangeredSpeciesProject

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