I’ll admit it: I’ve had a crush on the work by Christi Stewart-Brown for twenty years now. It was her work that introduced me to fringe theater. I got to see most of her plays when I lived in Washington, DC, except for The Gene Pool, which premiered after I moved to Seattle.
When I finally read the play a few years ago, I knew immediately I wanted to direct it. It spoke to me on many levels; I had to make it happen. I approached several theatres and held a reading of the play to gauge interest. A fringe company in Seattle passed because the play was deemed “too normal”, while a small theater in the suburbs passed because they were alarmed the women actually kissed on stage. It wasn’t that they were lesbians, but did they really have to show it?
I realized then, that the most certain way for me to direct The Gene Pool would be to produce it myself. After stalling for a couple of years, I was finally propelled to follow through and get it done after dinner and conversation with a friend. Luckily, I found myself surrounded by friends and family that believed not only in me, but in this excellent play and what it had to say. Thus, Arouet was born.
The casting of the show was something else. We had an astonishing number of talented people at callbacks—I could have cast the show several times over. Decisions were made, and now, after four weeks of very intense, and fun rehearsals I find it impossible to think of anyone else in these parts.
I was lucky to secure an excellent design team. A mutual friend of the author and mine designed the set (the only person I know who saw the original production); costumes and lights were designed by friends willing to jump in and work with me for little budget; a stage manager with whom I’d worked before; and an assistant director who is one of my best friends and with whom I have an excellent working relationship—truly my right hand in this process.
And now, here we are, less than a week until opening night. I look forward to sharing with you this next part of the journey.