Behind the Scenes at Intiman's First Rehearsal

Seattle mag got a chance to sit in on the very first rehearsal for the Intiman's upcoming summer festival of shows this morning. Being the type of event at which everyone wears name-tags, we didn't see much in the way of rehearsing. But we did hear a lot about the four plays (directed by Allison Narver, Valerie Curtis-Newton, Dan Savage and Andrew Russell). We also learned who would be acting in them.

Unfortunately, I can't tell you about any of that. It's all very top secret still.

But, if you happened to put your ear to the door of the rehearsal hall where we were all gathered, you would have heard some compelling murmurs about gender-bending, communities struggling with violence and interdisciplinary experimentation.

You could have witnessed Allison Narver speaking eloquently about how a visit to the West Bank is indirectly impacting the new direction of her play. Or you might have laughed along with us as a very humbled Valerie Curtis-Newton cheerfully advised her cast (or herself?) on how to stay inspired in the face of discouraging administrative obstacles (sometimes securing rights for plays isn't easy).

Finally, if you had peeped through the keyhole (are there such things anymore?) you might have been surprised to glimpse a room full of fresh faces. Some familiar faces, too. But mostly new, so far as the Intiman stage is concerned.

It seems that this festival (serving as both a comeback and a new beginning), in spite of all the pressure its directors must be feeling, will not be stacking the deck with predictable moves or go-to house players.

From what we saw today, the Intiman summer festival will represent as much risk and rawness as it would if this were the theater's first season on the fringe - not its 40th in one of the most established houses in town.

Fitting, considering artistic director Andrew Russell's "state of the union" address to the cast and crew at the beginning of the meeting. In it, he quoted "Wiley," a former props master at Intiman who around the close of Intiman's last season is said to have compared the Intiman's dramatic transition to a molting bird. In other words, a bird going through an "ugly but necessary phase."

What we saw this morning in that rehearsal hall gives some weight to that observation. I can already see a few new and brightly colored feathers sprouting.

Stay tuned.