Seven years ago, I attended the grand re-opening of the newly renovated Arena Stage with my dear friend Shirley Serotsky. We had such fun! Near the end of our visit, we made our way to the Kogod Cradle. I remember walking down the long hallway into the theatre and being immediately struck by its beauty and character. It is a theatre that demands to be taken in fully. As I sat down in the audience, I whispered a short prayer: “Dear Lord and all the muses, please let me have a play presented here one day.”
At last week’s first rehearsal of Intelligence, I stood on the stage of the Kogod Cradle and shared this sweet memory. I could hardly believe I was living this dream come true. At one point, during the design presentation, I leaned over to artistic director Molly Smith and whispered, “They’re talking about my play!” She beamed with such pride and said, “Yes, they are. You’ve worked hard for it.”
Quite simply, it was thrilling to hear the designers speak about the world of the play. While the lights, projections, props, and sound were still coming together, Misha Kachman shared the stunning model of the set and Ivania Stack displayed her gorgeous costumes. While the set transforms from a living room to a boutique to a coffee shop to a detention center to a war-torn city, the costumes teach us about each of the character’s culture, class, career, and personality.
We’re nearing the end of week two and we have a stumble through tomorrow morning. Yes, already! I’m going to skype in and plan to share more of our journey along the way. For now, please enjoy these costume and set renderings for the play.
Costume Designs by Ivania Stack
Set Renderings by Misha Kachman
In just a few weeks, my new play, Intelligence, will make its world premiere at Arena Stage at the Mead Center for American Theater. Under the direction of Daniella Topol (Round House’s Ironbound), Intelligence explores the cost of deception and the consequences of speaking truth to power. Due to popular demand, the production has been extended for one week with eight additional performances and will run February 24-April 9, 2017 in the Arlene and Robert Kogod Cradle. We found out two weeks before the start of rehearsal!
Here's more about the play:
Inspired by true events, Intelligence is a fictionalized account of a covert operative who, tasked with protecting the national security of the United States post-9/11, is racing to find weapons of mass destruction in Iraq when the unthinkable happens. With the country at war, her cover is blown and she must navigate a media frenzy, the CIA's search for answers and her diplomat husband's dogged pursuit of the truth.
The production features Tony Award nominee Hannah Yelland (Broadway’s Brief Encounter) as Valerie Plame, Lawrence Redmond (Arena Stage’s All the Way) as her husband Joseph Wilson, Nora Achrati (Forum Theatre’s I Call My Brothers) as Leyla Nazari, Ethan Hova (Woolly Mammoth’s Guards at the Taj) as Dr. Malik Nazari and Aakhu TuahNera Freeman (Arena Stage’s The Great White Hope) as Elaine Matthews.
“What excites me most about Jacqueline Lawton’s new play and Arena’s new Power Plays initiative is that we will explore politics from 1776 to the present day,” shares Artistic Director Molly Smith. “This story of truth and lies amidst great political pressure in 2003 provides a fascinating look at what it means to be an American.”
“I'm honored that Intelligence will receive a world premiere as part of the Power Plays initiative,” says Lawton. “Writing this play has forced me to process the betrayal I felt when the Bush Administration told a series of lies that led to the war in Iraq. This historical fiction is as much a political thriller as it is a clarion call for citizens to hold their leaders accountable. Never before has this message been more urgent than right now, and there is no better place for this play to be presented than at Arena Stage, in the heart of the nation's capital.”
“I am thrilled to direct Intelligence, a fast-paced and emotionally-charged political drama that captures the complexity of one woman's journey to serve her country and her family in uncertain times,” adds Topol. “Arena, with its steadfast commitment to launching political plays of resonance, is the ideal theater to launch this vital and relevant new play. And I am honored to work with such an excellent cast and creative team who will create an innovative and ambitious production.”
Click here to learn more about the play and here to learn more about the Power Plays Initiative.
I'm a playwright, dramaturg, and teaching artist. It is here where you'll find my queries and musings on life, theater and the world. My posts advocate for diversity, inclusion, and equity in the American Theatre and updates on my own work. Please enjoy!