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Director Doug Sprigg, actors Kim Bent and Levi Penley on the challenges, joys and exhilaration of RED

May 19, 2016

Red logo from poster

The Creative Team of RED speaks about the exhilartion and challenge of working on the play


"I love the way John Logan deals with questions of art and creation - so deftly the play breathes with exhilarating life. The relationship of Ken and Mark is full of contrasts, connections, and explosions… Ken is intriguing. He is the perfect contrast to Rothko yet also the perfect companion. It's easy for me to empathize with him and it's difficult not to see so much of myself. He's everything a young actor like me wants in a role, and so much more."   -  Levi Penley

 Kim Bent as Rothko introduces Levi Penley as Ken to his painting for first time 
photo: Robert Eddy, first light studio

"Playing Mark Rothko is one of the greatest acting challenges I’ve ever undertaken. Physically, vocally, and temper-mentally he’s not a character who’s particularly close to me, but I do feel a strong kinship with him artistically in the intensity of his devotion to his art. John Logan’s script incorporates incredibly passionate and articulate statements that Rothko made about his work, and it’s been exciting, even exhilarating, to have the opportunity to speak Rothko's words and to find ways of making them my own." – Kim Bent

I have always known that Rothko, and Pollock, were the great Abstract Expressionists of the 40’s, 50’s, and 60’s, and I knew something of Rothko’s work.  Unlike Pollock, however, I knew little about Rothko's life.  With this play, I was introduced to the complex personality behind the paintings, and, as a result, I was motivated to go back and look at the paintings again.  In doing so, I gained a new appreciation of the emotional expressiveness of Rothko’s massive, shimmering rectangles.  The play uses the life of Rothko during the two years at the end of the 1950s as a window into the the myriad of issues surrounding the meaning of art, the ways and the extent to which art does, or does not, possess meaning, the power art may, or may not have in our daily lives, and what being an artist can entail, both today, and for artists who painted throughout the centuries.  My hope and expectation is that audience members, as they experience Rothko’s struggles toward artistic fulfillment, might make connections with their own personal and professional struggles. Certainly Rothko wanted viewers of his paintings to share something of the intense emotions he experienced during the process of painting them. - Doug Sprigg - Director