Thursday, November 14, 2019

Interview with Paul Rush

Paul Rush is the artistic director of Sixty-six Theater Co. located inside the Strasberg Institute in Hollywood. In our second conversation Rush talks about his excitement for the company getting the rights to produce Lee Blessing's new play For the Loyal. The West Coast premiere opens November 21 at Sixty-Six.

Tell our readers about your next production. Why are you so excited about getting the rights to this play?

PR: For The Loyal poses relevant and timely questions about loyalty. The titular character Mia is forced to choose which side she is playing for; the community she is part of, the family she is starting, or the person she is. The story takes place in a college football town, and the football program runs the town. When an incident threatens to derail the program and everyone involved, Mia needs to decide what play is the correct one to make. Lee Blessing does a phenomenal job of telling this story without preaching to his audience.

We are a young company and getting the rights to new material can be very difficult in Los Angeles. To have the opportunity to work with Lee Blessing, is a great honor. This play has never been produced professionally in California and such makes it a West Coast premiere. Our 1st premiere! It is hard not to be excited to produce and direct this play.

I met Lee Blessing when Group Rep presented his The Winning Streak. It involved baseball. For the Loyal gets into football. Explain his love of sports and how he works within the framework of sports to get to the family and issues that complicate family life.

PR: Sports tend to be a metaphor in a lot of storytelling. Blessing's use of sports goes beyond the game itself and the metaphor of the game. He forces his characters to play roles in the game that they would never expect. For The Loyal does just that. Mia is left with a choice to make, like a coach in the game, what play is the right one to call? The X's and O's of every player is used and laid out for the audience to see. I love how Blessing uses aspects of the 'game' to influence his storytelling without it being blatant.

Are you directing For the Loyal? What directorial challenges does it present?

PR: I am directing For The Loyal. The production of this story has been absolutely wonderful. Maybe it is because it is our first premiere, maybe it is because the writing is exceptional, maybe it is because the cast and team are amazing, but probably it is because this is a story worth telling. The only challenge I face is to do the story justice and give it is due.

How does this play fit into your mission statement?

PR: A play like this fits perfectly into our mission statement. Blessing does not shy away from entertainment while giving a story worth telling. There is only one way to approach that type of writing; with complete internal honesty within the framework of production. That is what we aim to do at Sixty-Six, to tell stories that are equal parts entertaining and thought-provoking.

Has reception to your company grown over the past year? Give us some positive details.

PR: Our company is growing! We got our first premiere! We have hosted the Short and Sweet theatre festival and Nick Hardcastle's Orry premiered here all this season. Our doors are staying open and our community is learning that we are here.

Back to Lee Blessing. Is he considered a foremost American playwright? Why?

PR: It would be hard to not consider Blessing a foremost American playwright. He deals with quintessential Americana and uses the backdrop of communal American life to lay out his stories.

Tell us about your cast in For the Loyal.

PR: Professionals that care. That is this cast. They are all working actors here in Los Angeles, involved with movie premiers, television episodes and auditions. Yet, here they are working hard and committed to story that doesn't get told often and needs to. The wonderful cast includes Hilty Bowen as Mia, Eddie Alfano as Coach Tanner Hale, Torrey Drake as Toby, Mark Youngs as Coach Mitch Carlson and Danny Martha as The Boy.

For the Loyal plays at Sixty-Six Theater Co from November 21 through December 14. The theatre is located inside the Strasberg Institute at 7936 Santa Monica Blvd. West. For more info or to purchase tickets for the play, call: 213-926-3150 or go to:

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