No matter where people find themselves, marriage is a complicated bond. There are always going to be challenges — nobody is immune.
The all-important marriage vows are put to the test in “Hotter Than Egypt,” in which Middle East American Distinguished Playwright Award winner Yussef El Guindi follows an American couple as they explore a foreign culture.
The play runs at the Denver Center for the Performing Arts’ Kilstrom Theatre, Speer Boulevard and Arapahoe Street, through Sunday, March 12. Most performances are at 7 p.m., but there are some 1:30 p.m. matinee shows on Sundays.
The show follows Jean (Kate MacCluggage) and Paul (Gareth Saxe), a middle-aged, Midwestern couple who are in Cairo to celebrate their 26th wedding anniversary. There they meet a young Egyptian couple who serve as tour guides and witnesses to the airing out of long-held grievances.
Chris Coleman, artistic director and director of the play, answered some questions about the show, what audiences can expect and more:
Interview edited for brevity and clarity.
Tell me about the genesis of the show?
Yussef and I worked on an earlier show of his called “Threesome,” which we mounted in Portland, Seattle and eventually New York. So, we got to know each other well. He shared “Hotter Than Egypt” with me the summer prior to the 2020 Colorado New Play Summit and I found it taut and mature and thought our audiences would respond well to it.
What drew you to the show?
I loved the collision of cultures, and how that changes both relationships in the play. I was particularly struck by Jean’s journey: this American tourist who has lived her life for others, who feels pretty repressed and shut down, finding that her soul is awakened in this new culture. It’s quite a beautiful exploration.
Tell me about the draw of tackling relatively new shows like this?
When you work on a new play, you’re in on the ground floor. You get to see idea move from first spark, to messy middle, to editing, to full bloom. It’s quite wonderful to be in conversation with a writer, to try and uncover the truth of their vision, and to be their first “audience.”
Tell me about bringing in elements of life in the Middle East to the show?
Lisa Orzolek, our set designer, has been inspired by Egyptian architecture, so you’ll definitely get a wonderful visual sense of the world in the setting. David Molina, our composer, was likewise inspired by contemporary Egyptian composers who are mixing traditional sounds, with much more cutting-edge sounds. The instrumentation is deeply influenced by the play’s geography.
What do you hope audiences who see “Hotter Than Egypt” come away with?
A bit of themselves. A taste of newfound freedom. A sense of life from a different vantage point.
Get information and tickets at www.denvercenter.org/tickets-events/hotter-than-egypt/.
RedLine explores Gavitropics with resident artists
One of RedLine Contemporary Art Center’s biggest events has just launched - Gravitropic: RedLine’s Annual Resident Artist Exhibition. The show runs through Wednesday, March 1 at the center, 2350 Arapahoe St. in Denver.
According to provided information, each year RedLine invites a visiting curator to develop an exhibition that ties together work created by artists and this year Christina Linden “conducted studio visits with resident artists to develop the curatorial vision for Gravitropic.” Find all the details for the show at www.redlineart.org/gravitropic-resident-artist-exhibition.
Learn about the birds and the bees at DMNS
There certainly is an art to romance, but as the Denver Museum of Nature and Science is reminding people, there’s a science to it as well. Attendees can learn all about this at the museum’s Seductive Science event, held at 7 p.m. on Thursday, Feb. 16.
The 21-and-older event held at the museum, 2001 Colorado Blvd. in Denver, encourages guests to wear their best outfits to an evening that includes lessons on which animals mate for life, how attraction works in the animal kingdom, games and activities and more.
Register at www.dmns.org/visit/events-and-activities/.
Clarke’s Concert of the Week — Luv is 4Ever Tour at Mission Ballroom
As we stare down the barrel of another Valentine’s Day, it’s difficult to think of a more aptly named tour than JID and Smino’s co-headlining tour, Luv is 4Ever. Both artists released albums that ranked amongst the best of 2022, hip-hop or otherwise. JID’s “The Forever Story,” offered listeners something both familiar and challenging, blending rap traditionalism with a modernist’s eye. Smino’s “Luv 4 Rent,” is a genre-bender that artfully incorporates elements of R&B and electronic into its sonic landscape.
The Luv is 4Ever Tour will be stopping by Denver’s Mission Ballroom, 4242 Wynkoop St., at 8 p.m. on Friday, Feb. 10. It’s difficult to imagine a better opportunity to see two of hip-hop’s most exciting voices. Get tickets at www.axs.com.
Clarke Reader’s column on culture appears on a weekly basis. He can be reached at Clarke.Reader@hotmail.com.