Coriolanus: Fight Like a Bitch
THE SEATTLE TIMES:
Directed with clear-cut precision by Emily Penick, there is no winking about the fact that these traditionally male characters are now female -- and there shouldn't be. Every soldier, senator and lover is fully inhabited.
THE STRANGER: ‘Nike Imoru Is So Good, She'll Make You Love the Tyrant in Shakespeare's Coriolanus'
My brain told me to side with the tribunes representing the people who were being callously starved to death, but because director Emily Penick didn't emphasize their suffering, because they behaved like a mob, and because Nike Imoru's portrayal of Coriolanus was so complex, my sympathies were with the dictator. As with many of Shakespeare's plays, there are tones of great insults and five-star rants for the characters to work with. Imoru doesn't disappoint here either, managing to project more rage in a whisper than most actors do in an overdetermined stage bellow when she lays out semi-hilarious burns like "You souls of geese / That bear the shapes of men, how have you run / From slaves that apes would beat!"
CITY ARTS: ‘The Raw Power of 'Coriolanus: Fight Like a Bitch'
The relentless, driving direction of Emily Penick kept this story of war, loyalty, and betrayal tense and exciting, and the performances were masterful (mistressful?), with Nike Imoru as the title character.
SEATTLE GAY SCENE
It's a brisk, to the point adaptation and director Emily Penick has done a great job choreographing this action-packed drama on the confines of Julia Welch's terrific runway setting. It's like Shakespeare meets RuPaul's Drag Race but instead of "sassing that walk" these Amazon women are kicking ass and taking names.
It's empowering to see women in charge and not just objects of love, both maternal and sexual, to the needs of males characters. More importantly, it's a tight production.
Worse Than Tigers
SEATTLE TIMES: ‘WORSE THAN TIGERS’: THE DANGERS THAT LURK IN A MARRIAGE
This is a strong debut from RED STAGE, founded by ACT Theatre’s Literary & Artistic Manager Emily Penick. As director, Penick likes to draw out silences to their breaking point, and in her perfectly paced first act, the action teeters on the edge of the uncanny valley — not quite realistic, but somehow a familiar depiction of human interaction all the same.
BROADWAY WORLD: WORSE THAN TIGERS AT ACT THEATRE: ABSURDISM WITH A BITE
RED Stage's premiere production "Worse Than Tigers" is more than an emotional roller coaster-- it is a full emotional carnival. Directed by Emily Penick, this jostling, absurdist comedy misleadingly kicks off with understated, easily digestible absurdity, including odd, disjointed language exchanged between an incompatible married couple. But buckle up, because you will plummet into this couple's Lynchian fever dream where getting thrown to the lions (or in this case, tigers) brings their dying marriage back to life.
Romeo & Juliet
Truly one of the best fight sequences I've seen in some time.
BROADWAY WORLD REVIEW: RIVETING TWISTS FROM SEATTLE IMMERSIVE'S ROMEO + JULIET
While I love Shakespeare's "Romeo + Juliet" I've never actually seen a production I truly liked. But all my fears were soon dashed as I entered a superbly crafted realm housing the best production of the play I have ever seen and culminating in a theatrical experience I'll remember for years to come.
VANGUARD: GET HEART-WRENCHED, UP CLOSE AND PERSONAL: SEATTLE IMMERSIVE THEATRE’S ROMEO & JULIET
The show’s intense energy–sexy, funny and more than a little heartwrenching–stayed afloat through the scenic flow, innovative blocking and stellar delivery.
A brief note on the cross-gender casting: Though Tybalt, Romeo and the Nurse were all played by opposite genders than tradition dictates, the performance choice didn’t come off as didactic or agenda-driven. Instead, it seemed as though the actors were simply chosen for their potential to embody the character effectively, regardless of identifying gender, a choice which paid numerous dividends via the superb acting and chemistry between actors.
THEATRICAL MUSTANG PODCAST INTERVIEW
It's Episode 75 with Emily Penick, Devin Bannon and Lorenzo Roberts. These three are part of Seattle Immersive Theater's current production of Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet, running now through April 10. We talk about process, director Emily's artistic choices, and how this more than 400 year old text serves and supports contemporary issues of gender and sexual identity.
The Other Woman
MILWAUKKE JOURNAL CENTINAL
"The sped-up "Midsummer" plays as comedy, but it leads immediately into the night's longest and best piece: David Ives' considerably darker "The Other Woman," directed by Emily Penick.
Thomas (Patrick Budde) is a writer working on his latest novel when he receives a late-night visit from Emma (Kamille Dawkins), his wife. Except that Emma doesn't know she's there, because she is sleepwalking and clearly afraid — out of character for a woman who is a confident professional by day.
During ensuing sleepwalking episodes, Emma turns horny, which turns Thomas on — and leaves him wondering whether the woman he's sleeping with is really his wife, or another woman he doesn't know. Or hasn't taken the time to know: Ives suggests that it's Thomas — in love with the fictional creations coming to life in his book — who has been sleepwalking through life, ignoring the realities unfolding around him.
Thomas has company, in several pieces illustrating how the self-contained narratives in which we lose ourselves can isolate us, writing everyone else out of our stories."
KENAN DIRECTING FELLOWSHIP:
“It’s been a grand success of a pilot year,” Penick says. “Wiley has really just woven himself into the fabric of ACT. In addition to his directing work, he’s also learned the lay of the land when it comes to how we market, how we budget, and how we seek out artistic partners. It’s a directing fellowship, but he is primed to work in any regional theatre in a leadership position.
“Excellent art only happens with trust and time,” she says. “And so often, young artists are either lacking a mentor who trusts them or an extended mentorship period in which to learn. And this fellowship offers both.”
A local theater is using innovative technology to provide real-time closed captioning:
SEATTLE — Seattle’s ACT Theatre is leading the industry when it comes to making theater accessible to the deaf and hard of hearing. Their brand-new, one-of-a-kind system is inspiring theaters worldwide, and inspiring a local community to enjoy the theater like never before.
A quiet night at the theater will always be quiet for some. The dialogue fleeting, drama minimized for the deaf and hard of hearing. But ACT is changing the game thanks to their latest production ‘Tribes’, a coming-of-age story about a young deaf man.
The theaters at ACT aren’t just your run of the mill variety, so the different shapes and sizes presented its own challenge. Operations had to design a special contraption: a casing with a flexible arms that slide right onto the armrest, making every seat in the house CC capable.
*Emily Penick spear-headed and managed this year-long effort, even shooting and editing the instructional video below...
CITY ARTS MAGAZINE: THERE'S A NEW FEMALE-LED THEATRE COMPANY IN TOWN
“We need more women and people of color in arts leadership positions,” Penick says. “I’ve assistant or associate directed on the professional level probably 20 times over the last decade, and one time I was assisting a female director. Once. And it took a lot of effort just to get in the room with a successful female director to learn from. I want to be able to provide a community and mentorship for up-and-coming female theatre artists.”
Q: What were your biggest takeaways from your graduate program?
A: Leading through vulnerability. Before grad school I think I was trying a bit too hard to “be a director”, instead of just leaning into the fact that I already was one. Ohio University gave me the tools to feel confident in my choices, and be a collaborative leader.
FIVE FRIDAY QUESTIONS WITH EMILY PENICK
What’s the most useful thing anyone’s ever taught you about working in theatre? All great art comes from trust. That wasn't so much a spelled-out lesson as one I gathered from working with friends and mentors.
The most useful straight-up tip I ever got was: Don't be an asshole to anyone. Chances are the girl who helped you with your quick-change in undergrad, or the shy little board op from your high school theater will one day be running the Rep or be in a position to give you a job. Assume everyone around you is bound for greatness, and treat each other well.*
THE STRANGER'S CHRISTMAS SHOW REVIEW REVUE!
"White Kwanzaa (an appropriation comedy)" by Nicky Davis was straight-up gold. Two misguided white couples celebrate Kwanzaa. They listen and dance to hiphop, decorate their house with "traditional African" cornucopias, and claim to have cooked the celebratory meal using recipes from a cookbook called Little Sambo's Kitchen. The satire here is spot-on and timely, considering we still live in an era when Yale professors think it's okay for people to run around on Halloween wearing another culture as their costume.