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PortWatch

October 31, 2013

Seeing 'Red'

Actors Studio teams up with art association on Mark Rothko play

An artist who defied expectations and a first-time collaboration between two Newburyport creative institutions add color to The Actors Studio of Newburyport’s production of “Red” by John Logan.

Directed by Michael Kimball and opening at The Actors Studio on Saturday, the play tells the story of late artist Mark Rothko, whose 1954 painting “No. 1 (Royal Red and Blue)” sold for $75 million last year.

“The subject matter is this man’s creative process,” said Marc Clopton, executive director of The Actors Studio. “And what an amazing struggle it was for him to cope with his own process and the people around him.”

Set inside Rothko’s New York City studio in the late 1950s, “Red” centers around the reaction of the artist, played by Joe Dominguez, to his new assistant, Ken, played by Glenn Provost. Committed to an anti-establishment philosophy, Rothko must find a way to come to terms with his burgeoning success, and Ken must find a way to deal with the mercurial Rothko.

“When I read the script, I was just blown away by it,” Clopton said. “The characters just leapt off the page, and the world of the play was so real. It’s an amazingly well-written play. As an actor or a director, you want to sink your teeth into it.”

The Broadway production of “Red,” written by John Logan, won seven Tony Awards in 2010, including best play.

For this show, The Actors Studio has joined forces with the Newburyport Art Association. Artist members Alan Bull and John Maciejowski will speak about Rothko and his work after the Nov. 10 and 17 performances.

“My interest in collaborating with (The Actors Studio) extends from a deep belief in the connection between the arts and other disciplines and how cross-fertilization can occur when you begin to explore things across disciplines,” said Elena Bachrach, executive director of the Newburyport Art Association. “But I’m not interested in that happening unless it is an organic connection, and I think this play lent itself to that. It seemed like a natural fit.”

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