Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Marc Masterson Talks Theatre, SCR and 50th

Charlie Robinson as Willy Loman in Death of a Salesman.
Masterson on Segerstrom

“Great actors deserve great roles.”
—about Arthur Miller,
Death of a Salesman

“Her work is subtle and smart. She is one of the bright lights in American theatre.”
—about Amy Herzog,
4000 Miles

“Piazza is a lovely musical—a beautiful story, elegantly told.”
—about Craig Lucas’
The Light in the Piazza,
with music and lyrics
by Adam Guettel.

“Sam is a rising star in the American theatre. The compassion and love in this play is breathtaking.”
—about Samuel D. Hunter,

“Here is a fierce, dark, and funny take on a classic by Moliere by one of the most inventive directors working today.”
—about Moilère’s Tartuffe,
which was the first production (1964) done by South Coast Repertory.
The Stage is Set: Segerstrom Stage for SCR’s 50th Season

For Marc Masterson, many things factor into programming a theatrical season. One of them came up over a lunch with actor Charlie Robinson.

“I asked him the question, ‘What roles do you want to play? What are the great roles that you feel challenged by?’” Masterson recalls. It was a great lunch topic for SCR’s artistic director and his long-time actor friend. “I believe that when an artist is challenged, they have the opportunity to do their best work. And Charlie said he wanted to do Arthur Miller’s Death of a Salesman.”

And that’s the work that opens SCR’s 50th Season.

Early in the summer, Masterson gathered a group of actors, including Robinson, to do a reading of the play to hear it.

“Out of this initial reading, the challenges, strengths and universality of it were apparent and clear to us,” he says. “It’s a classic play that has been produced in almost every language, in different cultures and different contexts. I think we demonstrated that the play is deserving of a great cast.”

Masterson says the variety of offerings on the Segerstrom Stage is exciting: classics like Death of a Salesman and Molière’s Tartuffe (which was SCR’s first production in 1964), the highly acclaimed 4000 Miles by Amy Herzog, and the world premiere of Samuel D. Hunter’s Rest.

“I’m extremely excited about Rest,” says Masterson. “It’s compassionate and loving in a way that is breathtaking. He’s got the ability to write a story with characters in it that you deeply care about. They have problems that are so human and so understandable. It’s a beautiful, beautiful work of art. Sam is definitely a rising star and has had a great deal of success already. I think this play is going to launch him into the stratosphere.”

Masterson also looks forward to what he calls one of his favorite musicals: The Light in the Piazza, by Craig Lucas, with music and lyrics by Adam Guettel.

“South Coast Repertory has had a great relationship with Craig from early in his career,” Masterson relates. “And I’m also a fan of Adam. They have created something beautiful in The Light in the Piazza: it’s a lovely story, elegantly told. I can’t wait to share it with our audiences.”

Find out more about the Segerstrom Season

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