This Seattle Director Wants to Bring Back the Greeks—in a Big Way

Kelly Kitchens wishes for a Safeco-sized amphitheater, but she'll settle for something smaller.

Kelly Kitchens was voted Best Director in the 2015 Best of Seattle Reader Poll. To view the other winners, go here.

So, I ask Kelly Kitchens, voted Best Theater Director in our Best of Seattle poll, what would she like to stage if cost were no object? And where?

“If you gave me a zillion dollars, I’d build our own outdoor amphitheater,” says Kitchens, who came to Seattle in the late ’90s as an actress.

Famously designed by the Greeks and Romans with a tiered, concave design, renowned for their perfect acoustics, amphitheaters were well-suited to the Mediterranean climate. Yet here in rainy Seattle, Kitchens concedes that we’d need “a retractable-roof, Greek-style theater”—like Safeco Field. But the site would have to be hilly, not in the SoDo mud. Maybe Magnolia or Beacon Hill?

Kitchens has ample experience with outdoor theater. As an actress, she’s currently appearing in Wooden O’s summer production of As You Like It ; in the supporting role of Jacques (here Jacqueline), she’s the one who gets to deliver the famous “All the world’s a stage” speech.

“Your asking about it is so timely,” says Kitchens of the blue-sky, hypothetical windfall. “I’ve been drawn to the Greek tragedies. . . . The plays of Sophocles and Euripides have really got me going. The level of human suffering in such a domestic and personal level. Those are plays of scale”—meaning a large chorus and a musical/dancing element that can rival a big-budget Broadway show.

“I’ve been working with Seattle Opera, which has turned me onto productions of scale,” says Kitchens, associate artistic director for Seattle Public Theater at the Bathhouse, where she’s directed acclaimed productions of Slowgirl, Arcadia, and Slip/Shot.

So busy is her directing schedule that Kitchens had been on hiatus as an actress for two years prior to As You Like It. Other recent directing credits include She’s Come Undone for Book-It, The Tall Girl for Washington Ensemble Theatre, and Black Comedy for Strawberry Theatre Workshop. And she has several directing gigs lined up during the new season. “I have a great fall. I’m directing a Book-It All Over touring show of The Secret Garden. . . . I’m also doing The Art of Bad Men by Vincent Delaney for MAP Theatre at Satori Space” (opening Sept. 25). SPT is also planning to revive her staging of Christmastown during the holidays.

Since she is planning to pitch some other small existing theaters on a Greek revival, Kitchens is coy about naming a specific tragedy. And because she’s so connected in the local theater scene, she doesn’t want to do any hypothetical casting. Still, she says, “I would also spend my budget on rehearsal time. I would have a dream collaborative team. This is my town. I love telling stories in my community.” E

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