The Many Translations of Red: A Write up on Canadian Stage’s Vibrant Success

Shakespeare asked: What’s in a name?. Rothko asked: What’s in a colour? Canadian Stage’s production of Red existed within this question, demanding the audience experience the many possibilities of red itself.

Red just finished its successful run at the Bluma Appel Theatre. This play focused on Mark Rothko and his assistant  as Rothko confronts the consequences of taking on his largest commission yet.

Jim Mezon threw himself into the life of the play, his performance permeated Rothko’s deeply poetic and tragic essence. David Coomber  energetically portrayed the development of his character from a naive wide-eyed admirer of Rothko to Rothko’s most honest commentator.

Moreover the play was a gorgeous technical feat. Kim Collier, the director, aptly presented to us the opening and closing of Rothko’s memories that  linked to form a momentous disclosure. This can only be done with a brilliant and intensely researched mind, this person is John Logan, the writer of this play.

Canadian Stage has also taken a very innovative marketing route with this piece, which is why I have chosen to include a short interview with the team on our website. How does a marketing team artistically reflect the burning unrest of Rothko’s story? Moreover, what have they learned from their own discipline? Can it compliment the spontaneous space of the theatre? To see for yourself check out the site here:

Without further ado I give you this piece.

Jim Mezon in The Mark Rothko Experience at 


Discuss the role of spontaneity in the website.

We wanted to create an experience that is non-linear so that different people can have different experiences. And, so that you can explore it multiple times, each time finding a slightly different path to the end of the story. This allows for longer engagement times and lets us immerse people in the world that we’re drawing them into.

 How do you think this marketing technique affects the viewer differently from a traditional website?

Our site gives you a one-on-one first-person experience – it’s intimate, and it offers a deeper lever of engagement than a traditional website. In fact, it makes it more powerful than the passive nature of most websites. This kind of an approach may not affect as many people as a traditional site.  But for those people it touches, it affects them deeply and turns them into evangelists who will pass on their passion to others.

Briefly discuss why the internet is an exciting space to market theatre, and why specifically for Red?
Advertising on the Internet offers the opportunity to target the exact people we want to reach with much less waste than other media.You can create something that can be pushed into online communities where the target market lives (like blogs, Facebook, and Twitter). On top of that, the web allows you to create a much richer and more intense experience than the usual print ad or TV spot.

What do you want the viewer of the site to thirst for by the end of their experience?

They should want to see the show! And we want them to be excited enough to tell other people that they should see the show, too. In a more subtle way, we want to shift people’s thinking about Canadian Stage to shake-off the perception that theatre can be stuffy.

How long did it take to construct the site?

From concept to launch about 2 months. But the actual construction of the site was about 4 weeks including the video content shoot, editing and post-production, and coding.

What has been the most rewarding aspect of creating such an innovative way of marketing Red?

It’s rewarding to see people have a genuine and visceral reaction to the online experience, and get excited about the play because of the site.

Once again Canadian Stage proves itself to be focused on innovating the space of storytelling, enriching our expectations of the cyber world so that we can see it as a space that fosters magic and the exchange of story giving and imagining. 

 I hope you have a wonderful Sunday afternoon (and beyond).



Hannah Rittner

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