Seattle Playwright's New World-Premiere Play Mixes Sex and Politics

In 'Tails of Wasps,' local playwright Stephanie Timm pens a fresh take on a familiar story
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!--paging_filter--pIn her previous work, Seattle playwright Stephanie Timm has written about a teenage girl who devolves into an ape (emOn the Nature of Dust/em), and a “grim (fairy)tale” about human trafficking (emSweet Nothing/em). In her new, world-premiere play, emTails of Wasps/em, she addresses the age-old story of a politician brought down by a sexual scandal. Directed by New Century Theatre Company’s (NCTC) Darragh Kennan, the play explores the human tendency to get stung.brstrongbrWas there an event that inspired you to write about this common scenario?/strong When the Eliot Spitzer scandal first broke in 2008, I read an article about it that made an interesting argument that men have a biologically based need for sexual variety, and that if this had happened in a different country—France, for example, where François Mitterrand’s mistress and widow stood together at his funeral—this wouldn’t be the career-ending event that it is in the United States. I was intellectually persuaded but emotionally outraged by the argument, and it’s my conflicted reaction that drove me to reflect further, through writing emTails of Wasps/em.brnbsp;brstrongHow is your story different from the one we are so used to hearing on the news?/strong What we see on the news is the public side—the denial, the apology, the reactions from the political parties, the loyal wife standing on stage, etc. emTails of Wasps/em tells that familiar story but from the private side of the scandal as it unfolds behind closed hotel room doors and is exposed over the course of the politician’s career. It’s told in four intimate vignettes between Frank (the politician/protagonist) and the four women who are key in the scandal. nbsp;brnbsp;brstrongIs the play more about sex or power?/strong emTails of Wasps /emexplores that very question—are they inseparable? Different characters in the play have different points of view. As the writer, I have to believe whichever character is speaking. Through the course of the play, Frank’s relationship with sex and intimacy changes as he becomes more powerful. What starts out as something pure—love or his will to serve the people—gets corrupted as the complex reality of circumstances sets in. brbrstrongWhy do you suppose so many politicians fall victim to such impulses? /strongWhen writing emTails/em, I discovered that Frank is very much a political and romantic idealist. His pursuit of those ideals becomes so relentless and narrow that it warps into a corrupting force. Instead of a tragic flaw, he has a tragic virtue: idealism. It’s the thing that makes him great but is also what leads to his downfall, and as with many of our actual political “tragic heroes,” there are unfortunately many female casualties along that slippery slope to the bottom. nbsp;brbrstrongDETAILS/strongbrSee emTails of Wasps/em at ACT. 4/3–4/27. Times and prices vary. 700 Union St.; 206.292.7676; a href="HTTP://WWW.ACTTHEATRE.ORG" target="_blank"acttheatre.org/a/p

Bruce Pavitt's New App, 8Stem, Makes You the DJ

Bruce Pavitt's New App, 8Stem, Makes You the DJ

Sub Pop's Bruce Pavitt has a new app that puts anyone in the producer's seat
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8Stem creative director Bruce Pavitt (foreground) and CEO Adam Farish in their Capitol Hill office: Sub Pop’s 25 million record sales were just a start

Sub Pop cofounder Bruce Pavitt knows times have changed since he launched Seattle’s billion-dollar music revolution in the ’80s. Today’s kids prefer gizmos to guitars, and technology gives them easy ways to do it all, from making music to producing it. Pavitt’s new company, 8Stem, offers music fans a free, easy-as-Instagram iPhone app by that name. It turns everyone into a producer, able to delete and add new tracks on existing recordings: lead, bass, drums, instruments, synthesized vocals, beats. Kids addicted to gaming and tech can now listen interactively, erasing part of a tune by Soundgarden’s Kim Thayil—one of 40 artists who license music to 8Stem—and recording their own sounds over Thayil’s, and then sharing it with the touch of a button, so others can remix it at will. “We live in a remix culture,” says Pavitt. “If you go to YouTube, type in any pop song, then add ‘remix,’ the remixes are going to exceed the listeners of the original song.” Pavitt and his tech-exec partner Adam Farish designed 8Stem to cash in on that trend. 

Artists whose music is part of the remix benefit financially thanks to Dubset, a new “fingerprint” technology that scans remixes and detects music owned by any of the 14,000 labels and publishers it has deals with, then makes sure the various owners of the rights are paid. “We just inked a deal with Dubset,” says Pavitt, “and our first track was on Spotify, ‘Sleep In’ by Telekinesis.” 8Stem user Anomie Belle, a noted Seattle musician, added her vocals to the song and put the new version on Spotify; Telekinesis, 8Stem and remixer Belle all get a slice of the profit—and you can, too.

About 30 of 8Stem’s 40 artists are from Seattle, though a few are from London, Argentina and New York City. “We’re trying to reignite the local culture so it’s an energy source for new music and fresh ideas that can go anywhere,” says Pavitt, who used that very technique to conquer the world at Sub Pop. 


Need to Know

1. As a student at The Evergreen State College, Pavitt used $50 and a crayon to create Sub Pop as a fanzine for credit in 1979, made it a record company, and then sold 49 percent of it to Warner Music Group for $20 million in 1995. 

2. Pavitt’s spirited teen pals in his hometown of Park Forest, Illinois, included Kim Thayil and Hiro Yamamoto, who followed him to Seattle and started Soundgarden, and Tom Zutaut, who discovered Enya, Motley Crue and Guns N’ Roses, featuring Seattle’s Duff McKagan.

3. Pavitt predicts that streaming music, including songs remixed on his new 8Stem app, will jump from a $4 billion market today to $16 billion in 2020.  

4. Farish (above, right) cofounded SmartAmerica Home Automation, owns Orcas Island’s Outlook Inn, made two albums and toured America as an electronic dance music DJ.