My First Play, Again

Alan Paul, associate director of the Shakespeare Theatre Company, guest blogs about the July 7 staged reading of John Guare’s award-winning play Six Degrees of Separation, which he’s directing for the Phillips.

(left) Wassily Kandinsky, Sketch I for Painting with White Border (Moscow), 1913, 39 1/2 x 30 7/8 in. The Phillips Collection, Washington, D.C. © 2011 Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York / ADAGP, Paris. (right) Last summer, Alan Paul directed a staged reading of Yasmina Reza's "Art" at the Phillips. This summer, he's back with "Six Degrees of Separation."

It’s hard to believe we started brainstorming a list of plays over a year ago that would complement upcoming exhibitions at the Phillips.  But, here we are just a week away, and I am hard at work on Six Degrees.  When I saw Kandinsky on the list of upcoming exhibitions a year ago, I knew we had to do a reading of Six Degrees .  As you’ll see, a double-sided Kandinsky plays a prominent role in the play.

I fell in love with the play as an undergraduate in college, and it was in fact the first play I ever directed.  Ever.  I did it at Northwestern University with a company of actors under 20 years old.  To say it was a profound experience for me would be an understatement—this play changed my life and made me realize that directing would be my chosen field.

I’m so excited to tackle this play again with some pretty significant D.C. actors. The hardest parts are Flan and Ouisa, and I’m really lucky to have two amazing actors in those roles, Rick Foucheux and Naomi Jacobson.  Rick, Naomi, and I worked together when I was an assistant director on the premiere production of Sarah Ruhl’s Dead Man’s Cell Phone at Woolly Mammoth, one of the first shows I ever worked on in D.C.  So, it’s a thrill to have them in this.  And, we’ve got a mix of some of my other favorites from Larry Redmond to Julie-Ann Elliot.  There are also a slew of younger actors in the company, many of whom I met this winter when I directed Man of La Mancha at Catholic University.  It’s a great team, and I’m glad to re-visit this play with actors I really admire.

Hope to see you all in T-8 days.

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