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O lovely tribute to New Century's Chamberlin

New Century Theatre’s production of Oh Lovely Glowworm opened Friday. The offbeat script by Glen Berger was called “a loony, semi-coherent narrative" by the Portland Mercury after its world premiere and the play features a dead goat among other fantastical characters.
Michael Patten and Brian Claudio Smith in O Lovely Glowworm
Photo: Chris Bennion
Its musings on life caught the attention of Seattle actor Mark Chamberlin, who asked New Century to add this play to their roster. At the time of his unexpected death in March, Chamberlin was in rehearsals to play the goat. Even with the stunning loss of their leading man just weeks before opening, co-artistic director Paul Stetler said in a recent interview that canceling the show was never considered.

On your website, you’ve dedicated this work to Chamberlin’s memory. Did you ever consider shutting it down?
Mark was the one who lobbied for us to do this. The idea of not doing the show never really crossed our minds. Mark would have kicked our ass if we canceled. He cared too much about the show and our theater company. It was a non-decision. Thankfully, Michael Patten was in a position to step in as the goat and we are lucky to have him.

The stuffed goat, who has been left on a rubbish heap, imagines a much better or, at least, more fantastic world with mermaids and unicorns – as well as an inventor struggling with a self-flushing toilet. What did you think when you first heard this play?
Mark did a Pipeline reading (a monthly series we do at Solo Bar in Queen Anne) a few months ago. Our jaws dropped at how good he was [in the role of the goat]. We were a little intimidated by Berger’s play and, after the Pipeline reading, he said, “you guys have to do this.” His enthusiasm was infectious.

New Century focuses on challenging works, often described as cutting edge.
We are very much committed to doing daring, boldly theatrical work of the like that isn't seen on Seattle's professional stages. O Lovely Glowworm fits that description to a tee.

And you have definitely had some unusual characters on your stage before.
Well, in our last show, the main character literally devolved into lower and lower life forms and, in Adding Machine, the main characters were Mr. and Mrs. Zero. So, a dead stuffed goat is right up our alley.

With the help of company member MJ Sieber, you’ve taken a very new tech approach to marketing, with a new blog and YouTube videos. How necessary are tactics like that for a theater like yours?
Our video teasers and previews are very much a part of who we are and our fans love the way we approach our advertising. MJ is our audio/visual/social network guru and it is through his mind (and computer software) that these videos come to life. Plus, we don't have any money and so we need to market our work in a slightly more unconventional way. So far, so good.

If somebody hasn't come to New Century show before, what would you say to entice them through the door at the Erickson Theatre for this production?
It is our goal to explode your brain with a boldly theatrical experience complete with visually stunning images and complex ideas told through beautiful, compelling language that will require you to sit down with friends afterward and argue ferociously about what you just saw and how deeply it affected you.