Tonight is a momentous event in the life of an obscure writer. After penning plays for 17 years and having readings and workshops of them, tonight marks the first time a Duane Kelly play is being fully staged. Wunderbar!
The play, Das Ende (“The End” in German), involves the composer and dramatist Richard Wagner; Alberich, the cunning dwarf he created; and a troubled Seattle family. Among the questions the play explores are why do artists create their work? And how is it that characters can become immortal, outliving their authors, in some cases even our memory of their authors? Raise your hand if you know who first wrote (told, more likely) Little Red Riding Hood.
Where did Das Ende come from? I have attended Richard Wagner’s Ring cycle of operas over the last 20 years whenever Seattle Opera undertook the mammoth job of mounting them. The Ring, all 17 hours of it, is about many things. One of the biggies is how we become cursed when we choose power and wealth over love. While many in the Ring succumb to the temptation of the gold, that failing is most keenly embodied in the villainous Alberich.
Somewhere in my immersion in the Ring I got the idea for a story in which Wagner and Alberich clash. Then I interwove a parallel story of a contemporary Seattle family that suffers under a curse. After grinding all that together, at the bottom of the pestle was Das Ende.
As challenging as it is to complete a decent script, that document is still only a play in utero. Until it is embodied by actors, who in turn are supported by a team of other theatre artists, it remains a phantasm. To borrow a Biblical phrase, theatre is not the written word, it is “the word made flesh.”
Red Rover Theatre Company is presenting Das Ende in off-off-Broadway fashion, at 18th & Union Arts Space, a vintage 50-seat theatre in Seattle’s Capitol Hill neighborhood. A talented team has been working hard since the first of the year to breathe life into the play. Having attended many rehearsals, I couldn’t be prouder of what director Kelly McMahon and our actors and designers have wrought.
If you’re in the Seattle area please considering attending one of the only eight performances (March 23-April 2). Tickets are available online and at the door. We are eager to share this magical story and we could also use your support in the form of your presence.
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