By Jim Sullivan
---- — 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.”
Clopton said the collaboration highlights the creative hub that Newburyport has become.
“This is what I love,” Clopton said. “All of the overlaps are there in all different mediums, whether it be visual arts or the theater or film or dance. We all share in the same sort of process, and to be able to have a conversation and share our thoughts is an enormous opportunity, and it’s what makes Newburyport so amazing. It’s wonderful to have all of these great artists living here.”
“It makes intellectual, artistic sense,” Bachrach said of the collaboration. “But it is also good for our cultural business in the community, too.
“We hope that this will grow into more of the same. Not only between The Actors Studio and the Newburyport Art Association but rather across the city.”
If you go
When: Nov. 1-17. Fridays and Saturdays at 8 p.m., Sundays at 3 p.m.
Where: The Actors Studio of Newburyport, The Tannery Marketplace, 50 Water St., Mill 1, Suite 5
How much: $20 for adults, $17 for seniors and students
Tickets and more information: www.newburyportacting.org or 978-465-1229
When: Alan Bull on Sunday, Nov. 10, and John Maciejowski on Sunday, Nov. 17. Both start at 4:45 p.m.
Where: Newburyport Art Association, 65 Water St.
How much: Free
More information: www.newburyportart.org