Annex Got it Right

In my short history of renting performance spaces, I must say that the folks at Annex Theatre got it right.

Selecting Annex seemed like the logical choice: a play about a gay family for sure belonged on Capitol Hill. I have seen shows there, and liked the intimacy of the space. For a bit it seemed I had missed my boat and would not be able to rent it, thankfully that was not the case and the space was secured.

Once we got to the start of production, the folks at Annex went out of their way to make us feel part of a community, not annoying renters that deserve the least amount of attention. I was floored when I was offered use of their flats, and even more when they included the show on their website’s homepage. Furthermore, we got use of their “Now Playing” board and even the sandwich board on the sidewalk. The house managers – we had one every night – made sure we were taken care of, and went out of his/her way to make sure things were running smoothly for us, always willing to help us out if we got really busy or if we were missing front-of-house help.

I have to single out Meaghan Darling and Michael Hayes for making The Gene Pool a great production. Without their support it would not have been the same.

Maybe other theatres that rent their space follow similar policies, alas in the past few years that I’ve been dealing with rentals it has not always been my experience. Red-tape, being made to feel that as renters we should be grateful to at least get a place to perform, and even having to bring our own toilet paper and paper towels for performances summarizes what I’ve encountered. Using the street signage – much less being included on the web site – has been out of the question.

So yeah, the folks at Annex Theatre got it right. It should be no surprise that renting the space is a hot commodity, I know for sure I’m looking at doing other shows there in the future.

Accepting Proposal Submissions

Arouet is accepting proposal submissions from playwrights and directors. If you have a play, or would like to direct a play that fits into our mission statement, please send your submission to

We are interested in dynamic plays that can be produced on a limited budget in a flexible space; minimal set and costume requirements required.


Submit your play electronically, if you would prefer to submit a hard copy contact us for a mailing address. Please note clearly whether this is a work in progress or a final work, and any royalty information.


Please submit your resume and letter of interest.


If you are submitting a particular play, please include a written approach of your concept/vision.


Submission deadline is July 29, 2011.

The Music Of The Gene Pool

[quote]AT RISE: Lights come up on an empty living room, perhaps even while the audience is still settling in. The opening bars of Doris Day’s “Everybody Loves a Lover” blast.[/quote]

And so begins Christi Stewart-Brown’s The Gene Pool. As the opening scene progresses, it becomes clear that this charming Doris Day gem not only sets a certain tone for the show, but it provides deep insight into Mira, the character that became my musical connection into the play.

To Mira, music is something to aspire to: it is an ideal. Mira is no Pollyanna, as the opening song suggests, but she lives by the open, honest and sincere approach to life embodied by the song.

Mira is decade blending music lover that favors female singers. She is positive, vital, romantic and strong to the core. And this playlist is my interpretation of her musical taste…

By the way… These links go to, a great resource for music MP3s.


Kundalini Yoga Waltz by k.d. lang
Nobody Does It Better by Carly Simon
Dumb Blonde by Dolly Parton
Hush, Sweet Lover by k.d. lang
Love Will Keep Us Together by The Captain and Tennille
Something To Talk About by Bonnie Rait
Downtown by Petula Clark
These Boots Are Made For Walkin’ by Nancy Sinatra
I Fall To Pieces by Patsy Cline
(There’s) Always Something There to Remind Me by Sandie Shaw
Heart Of Glass by the Puppini Sisters

Music From Act I (Script)

Everybody Loves A Lover by Doris Day
What Ever Will Be, Will Be (Que Sera, Sera) by Doris Day


I Will Survive by the Puppini Sisters
A Little More Love by Olivia Newton-John
Hurting Each Other by The Carpenters
Give Me One Reason by Tracy Chapman

Music From Act II (Script)

Leader of The Pack by Better Middler

[box]J.S. Epperson is the sound designer for The Gene Pool. He has previously created sound and voice over work for Arouet, Arts West, Redwood Theatre and Theatre 9/12. You can read a clever paragraph or two about Epperson on the Cast and Crew page or you can visit his website. Read some fabulously nerdy blog posts about Arouet sound design.[/box]

The Gene Pool Review Roundup

The Gene Pool Set, Annex Theatre, Capitol Hill, Seattle, Photo by Michael Brunk /

Nancy Worssam, The Seattle Times
[quote]Playwright Christi Stewart-Brown has cleverly tied the universal to the particular in her funny but thought-provoking play, and director Roy Arauz has pulled together a gifted cast, capable of eliciting the nuances and layers within the script… Amelia Meckler as homebody Mira, the needy mate, is a little too girly, initially. But when she discovers her partner’s infidelity, she’s spellbinding… Carey sensitively portrays Claire’s love, her sorrow at her indiscretion and her wholehearted effort to make amends. The cast does well at making this a completely traditional family.”

John E. Allis, Seattlest
[quote]My favorite moments were those in which laughter ceased, which either says something about the execution of this particular comedy or my own taste. Probably both… The actors are topnotch; particularly Amelia Meckler and Colleen Carey as Mira and Claire, portraying a dynamic and believable couple, complex individuals. It’s so nice to see complicated characters from so many angles and these two handle the task masterfully… Maybe it’s a bit bubblegum, but The Gene Pool is a show that hits its mark.[/quote]

Jay Irwin,
[quote]Director Roy Arauz has taken these characters and made sure they were not stereotypes or caricatures but that they simply showed a family you could see anywhere.… Meckler is delightful as the bubbly house wife trying to make sure her family is happy and attended to. But beyond that she manages some wonderful moments of angst and betrayal when secrets come out. Johnson is endearing as the well raised teen just trying to cope with having the “cool” parents…. Carey seemed to take her character to a place of incredible subtle honesty… So while Arouet’s examination of a family with same sex parents may not have provoked any epiphanies, the performances are well worth the trip. [/quote]

Mike Showalter, CultureMob
[quote]Colleen Carey as Claire and Amelia Meckler as Mira both bring the characters to life in a way that convinces us… Kyle Johnson owns the role of their son, Peter. You can nearly feel the hormones bouncing around as he confronts his budding sexuality, and ultimately his need to identify and come face to face with his sperm donor father Harold, played by Bruce Erickson… (Zandi) Carlson sets the right tone in a key role, and rides a mean motorcycle… “The Gene Pool” is a great reminder that we’re all just trying to find our way. Be supportive of those you love, be forgiving of the inevitable missteps they’ll make, and celebrate being human.[/quote]

The dissenting opinions (we recognize we can’t possibly appeal to everyone):

La Segua

La SeguaLa Segua
by Alberto Cañas
translated by Roy Arauz
dramaturgy by Charles Waxberg

Encarnación Sancho is the most beautiful woman in town. Convinced that she is a mythical segua who drove her first suitor mad, Encarnación becomes obsessed with the segua myth and realizes that all women are seguas in as much as physical beauty turns into or leads to ugliness and death.

Alberto Cañas is one of the preeminent Costa Rican cultural figures of the latter part of the 20th Century. In La Segua, he combines the traditional mesoamerican legend with actual events that occurred in the city of Cartago in the 1800s to compose a study of the relationship of one woman with her physical beauty.

Look for La Segua in the Spring of 2012.

The Gene Pool: Designing the Set

The Gene Pool Set, Annex Theatre, Capitol Hill, Seattle, Photo by Michael Brunk /
The Gene Pool Set, Click To Enlarge
One of the biggest challenges facing “The Gene Pool” was the set. It had to provide the comfort of a home, allow for the outdoor/motorcycle sequences, and be easy to build as we don’t have a shop to build in advance. Above all, I wanted it to be theatrical.

I turned to Gavin Derek, a mutual friend of Christi’s and mine. We met back in DC, in the days of Consenting Adults (their theatre company) and my introduction to fringe theatre. The space they used was relatively similar to Annex Theatre, and they always did the best with the space. Gavin is also the only person I know who had seen the original run of the play.

We met for lunch, and his concept was exactly what I was looking for: simple, clean, easy to build, and theatrical. He scribbled it on a piece of paper: sunken living room, simple set pieces, all black, a scrim to cover the higher platforms that were to become the motorcycle.

Now was my turn to translate our conversation into something I could plan with. I had heard of Google SketchUp at my day job, and figured that would be the easiest way to figure it out. I did a couple of the tutorials, downloaded the program, and in a few hours I had a 3D model of the set. That allowed me to send an inventory to the theatre, who in turn told me what they actually had.

Set Design SketchUp Render

Having the 3D rendering proved very helpful during rehearsals, knowing quite accurately where things would be allowed for clear blocking with little guessing. A couple of things also became apparent. The set could not be as symbolic as we had originally planned. We needed a couch, we needed more furniture, and we would run into line-of-sight issues with the motorcycle platforms. Back to SketchUp for revisions.

With the new graphic in hand, I recruited my friend Perry Fulfs to help with building the set. We figured out what was needed hardware-wise, and got the set built pretty quickly. The flats were painted a rose color, which made the set look nice and warm. Everyone liked the original color, and I was quite reluctant to paint it black. Fully trusting Gavin’s design, I painted the walls and was astonished at the difference it made. The set pieces that need to pop do, and the outdoor/motorcycle sequences work extremely well.

Set Design SketchUp Render
This was my first time being this involved in the design and construction of a set, and I have to admit I thoroughly enjoyed it. Between Gavin’s vision, using technology to visualize it, and Perry’s lead building, it was quite fun.

Culturemob says “The Gene Pool” is more than all right

"The Gene Pool" at Annex Theatre, Capitol Hill, Seattle

Mike Showalter of CultureMob has some things to say after the opening night of The Gene Pool. I like how he addresses the elephant in the room:

Do you think the basic outline sounds a bit like last year’s hit movie, “The Kids are All Right?” Let’s be honest: if you’ve seen the movie you won’t be able to help yourself thinking that way once the play starts, which makes the opening few minutes a bit awkward as you try to match up what you’re seeing on stage to what you saw in the movie. It’s an unfair comparison, because in spite of the similarities the stories and characters are different. Just stop comparing, and let “The Gene Pool” stand on its own – which it’s quite capable of doing.

Read the article Review: ‘The Gene Pool’ is more than all right.