Seeing Red at Berkeley Rep

“[Rothko] believed that it was important to the human spirit to create art, to experience art, to be open to art because he truly believed it allowed an exultation of the heart and the spirit.” -Playwright John Logan

Last Friday, I saw John Logan’s Red at Berkeley Rep. It was stellar, funny, heart-wrenching and warming.

In his program prologue, Berkeley Rep Artistic Director Tony Taccone said that Red “fictionalizes the interplay between master painter Mark Rothko [David Chandler] and a young protégé [John Brummer].”

I thought Chandler took a few minutes to warm up, but once he did, he was on fire. I loved witnessing his connection with Brummer. Both actors were completely focused. The text was beautiful, and the delivery: honest. Near the end of the play, Rothko emphasizes his commitment to art that gets in the head and heart versus that which makes a buck, while simultaneously taking Ken’s head and chest into his hands…breathtaking! “Make them look,” Rothko implores. “Make something new.”

As an actor, the dialogue really hit home; I felt like these characters and their words magnificently articulated artistry. After the play, however, I read in the program that to writer John Logan, “the play is really not about art at all, it’s not about painting; it’s about fathers and sons.”

“I think people respond to the flamboyant grandeur and intensity of the character,” Logan continued, “but what really moves them is the father-son relationship. I wanted to write a play about teachers and students, mentors and protégés, fathers and sons. To me the piece has always been very domestic. Rothko had an awareness of young artists and an awareness of responsibility to young artists.”

Red‘s run has been extended through May 12. Get tickets to Red at Berkeley Rep here.

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