By focusing on the casting room power dynamic between director and actor, the Tony-nominated “Venus in Fur” could hardly align closer with inD Theatre’s 2022-23 season theme of “The Power and the Fury.”
The sultry semi-professional production penned by award-winning playwright David Ives opens March 17 at Rolling Bay Hall on Bainbridge Island. The 90-minute play without intermission runs for three weeks and is free to attend.
Directed by veteran Seattle stage director Shawn Belyea, the play features Laurence Hughes as Thomas, a director casting a play-within-a-play adaptation of the 1870 novel Venus in Furs. Starring alongside Hughes is Maleah Woodley as Vanda, a young woman who’s arrived to audition. As the story begins, Thomas holds all the cards and power – Vanda is there to land the part. What happens next defies expectations.
“I wanted to do this play to push myself, to grow as an actor and to test my limits,” Woodley said.
Ives is a master of ironic humor, and applies myriad unexpected twists and turns. Not unlike a magic show, the play uses sleight of sound and sight to misdirect audience members. Part comedy, drama and psychological thriller, Venus premiered on Broadway in 2011 and went on to become one of the most-performed plays in the US.
Venus surfaces the dangerous and manipulative underbelly of the performing arts, notably the power given to people making casting decisions. Directors often control the environment and actors may feel pressure to submit to whatever is asked. Without boundaries for a safe space, moral and ethical lines can blur, and vulnerable actors risk becoming victims.
inD Theatre co-director Rachel Ruby Squires said, “We have enormous respect for the artists who have undertaken this project. They have put themselves on the line artistically. It’s a high-wire act.”
inD Theatre cautions that this play is not for everyone. It contains content and images that some patrons may find objectionable or triggering, including such topics such as child abuse, bondage and gender conflict.
For details and to reserve seats, visit indtheatre.org/venus-in-fur.
The nonprofit inD Theatre produces independent theatrical events in order to inspire social change, provide artist stipends and offer free admission so all community members may attend.