Directed by Mark Anders
Running Time: Two hours, 45 minutes, with two intermissions.

It isn't business - it's personal. ESP's July reading will be a play which you are unlikely to have heard. It is a 1912 masterpiece, recently listed by the UK's National Theatre as one of the 100 greatest plays of the 20th Century: Rutherford and Son, by Githa Sowerby. A hit on both sides of the Atlantic when it was written, it was largely forgotten until it was revived in the 1980s. It's a shattering family drama, about a driven, self-made man whose obsession with his business has warped his children's lives. It's an Ibsen-like critique of social and sexual norms as relevant today as it was a hundred and two years ago.

Part of the series: Endangered Species Project

ESP_Rutherford_Cast

Ann...............................................................................................Susan Corzatte*+
Mary.....................................................................................Shannon Erickson Loys
Janet.....................................................................................................Leslie Law*+
John..........................................................................................Brandon J. Simmons
Richard.....................................................................................Jared Michael Brown*
John Rutherford.........................................................................................Rick Tutor*
Martin.....................................................................................................Tim Hyland*
Mrs. Henderson.......................................................................................Teri Thomas

*Members of Actors’ Equity Association, the Union of Professional Actors and Stage managers in the United States
+Core Member of Endangered Species Project

 

Githa Sowerby was part of the industrial dynasty that owned the Sowerby-Ellison glassworks in Gateshead in the North of England, one of the world's biggest manufacturers of pressed glass. She grew up in high society but also had intimate knowledge of the poverty of the factory's workforce, a perspective she would later draw on when creating Rutherford, whose titular character's story takes place in his own glass factory.

Eventually she made her way to London where she lived with her sister Millicent and successfully published children's books, for which she is now more commonly remembered.  But it was Rutherford and Son that put Sowerby on the map.  When the play opened in 1912 it was a sensation: a devastating attack on the unacceptable face of capitalism that gripped audiences in the London, on Broadway and across the world.  It tapped into all the concerns going on during a time that has become known as the Great Unrest.

Deliberately, she had been listed as KG Sowerby to obscure her gender, and the critics loved the play...assuming the writer was a man.  When the press discovered that the writer was - astonishingly for the time - a woman, Githa Sowerby became an instant celebrity and feminist hero.  Her biographer, Pat Riley, writes "...if the critics had known it was written by a young woman they would not have raved about it - but they could not back down once they found out."  

 

Sowerby continued writing plays, but she never replicated the success of Rutherford and Son.

Endangered Species Project is an organization of distinguished Seattle theatre artists dedicated to presenting plays that seldom get full productions. While it is an essential duty of theatres to read and develop new work, there’s a parallel need to bring older neglected plays back to the stage. Through our simply staged readings, we lend live voices to plays that are now silent on our bookshelves.  

Founded in February of 2011, Endangered Species Project has consistently mounted monthly readings. Expanding from our core group of eleven, dozens of Seattle’s best and bravest actors have been instrumental in bringing new life to these plays. We strive to do nothing that gets between the audience and the play. We want to give full scope to those two most powerful forces in the theatre: a playwright’s ideas and the audience’s imagination.

Learn more at www.endangeredspeciesproject.org.