RED - July 13 - July 28, 2018

The Heather Theatre

 Notes From the Director 




In the mid twentieth century, Mark Rothko was called the greatest living American painter by both critics and admirers. He may have been. By 1958, the year in which the events of the play are set, Rothko had lived through 30 years of financial hardship and mental struggle- wrestling with the biggest question of all: what could art do? Could it cut through the chaos and noise of daily life to connect us with the basic emotions that make us human- ecstasy, anguish, desire, terror?


By 1958, Rothko’s art had evolved into a distillation of Abstract Expressionism: pure, empty, absolute and exclusive. Rothko’s works were intimately involved with the human drama, human feeling. He was never at home in in the throbbing hum and clatter of New York City- the music, the people- they confused and infuriated him. Rothko reacted to this chaos and cacophony by retreating more and more into his studio and into his art, still holding to a belief that art could change the world- that art mattered.


“A sense of death is always with me when I paint.” *


This sense, this intimate connection to the ever present tragic is expressed most clearly in his striving to capture the purest expression of feeling. It is not what the colors are- it’s what Rothko makes them do. They are a surrender to total immersion. They are an isolation. 


A physical silence, but a spiritual howl. 


“… I do know that many of those who are driven to this life are desperately searching for those pockets of silence where we can root and grow. We must all hope we find them.” *


Tragically, by not being able or willing to be part of the world, Rothko attempted to root and grow in the absence of light. 


Art cannot exist in isolation. Sequestered art has no strength. No potency.

Or maybe it has too much. +



*  From The Artist’s Reality, by Mark Rothko

+ From Leni, a play by Sarah Greenman



Roxanne Fay

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