On Stage

The Seagull

Northwest Passage sets the stage

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

I’ve written numerous stories about iDiOM Theater founder Glenn Hergenhahn during the past decade, but even I have a tough time discerning his next move.

For example, even though he moved to New York City a handful of years ago, he could still occasionally be seen wandering the streets of downtown Bellingham, or popping in as a guest director or thespian at the Cornwall Avenue theater he helped give birth to.

Meanwhile, as he careened back and forth between opposite coasts, he insisted he was still a resident of the Big Apple.

But, like many before him, Hergenhahn has finally admitted he’s back in Bellingham to stay. While still maintaining ties with the iDiOM—he’ll be directing four shows there this coming season, including a new full-length play and an original serial play—he’s also founded a new acting studio, Northwest Passage.

This weekend, the public will have a chance to see what it’s all about when the theater collective presents a staged reading of Anton Chekov’s The Seagull Aug. 30-31 at Inspire Yoga Studio. Hergenhahn says the Russian comedy will be presented with a new translation from Moti Margolin, an actor and translator he met in New York.

“Margolin’s translation of The Seagull is one of the most brilliant scripts and definitely the most brilliant translation of a play that I have read,” Hergenhahn says. “He manages to capture all the strangeness and humor that I think is often missing when Chekhov is done in English.”

Being as the performances are part of a fundraiser for Northwest Passage, audiences who come to the Friday night soiree before the show, and Saturday’s performance, will be able to find out more about Hergenhahn’s new venture.

“Northwest Passage is a new theater group with a primary focus on actor training and developing new work and ways of working,” Hergenhahn explains. “For the past year we have presented acting intensives and weekend workshops taught by industry professionals. This year we will be introducing multi-week classes, classes for youth, a summer program and we will beginning our Theater LAB.”

The LAB, Hergenhahn says, will focus on a group of seven dedicated actors who will work with each other, and collaborate, for an entire year. While performance may be part of what the LAB does, the group’s focus will be on experimentation, the development of new skills and taking risks. LAB members will be paid a small monthly stipend, and that expense is what the take from this weekend’s performances will go toward.

“We are paying LAB members $120 a month, and for that we need to raise $8,400,” Hergenhahn says. “It is a challenging goal for a brand new theater company, but the best time to make a commitment to pay creative staff is at the onset of a project. We hope to meet our goal and exceed it, and spread the gospel of paying actors far across the city.”

And, while Northwest Passage is a separate project from the iDiOM Theater, the majority of the classes will take place there, and season pass holders can see Northwest Passage productions for free. Meanwhile, Hergenhahn urges area residents to continue to support the theater he founded.

“iDiOM Theater has always felt like my child, and like any parent, I am always delighted and terrified to see it go off into the world on its own,” Hergenhahn says. “Like any parent, I am always thrilled when it calls, and like any good parent, I will always do whatever I can to help it succeed in life.”

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