Anna Newbury reads a lot of scripts.
It’s part of her job as a professional theater artist — to know what’s out there, to find the latest and the best.
And Constellations stuck out. The two-character play was unique. Illuminating. Challenging and funny.
Newbury immediately thought of her friend and fellow performer Cameron Milton, and sent it along to him.
“I said, ‘I have this crazy idea. Do you want to take a look and see what you think?’” Newbury recalled.
Milton loved what he read. And that crazy idea? He was up for that, too.
Just a few months later, Newbury and Milton are bringing Constellations to the local stage. It’s a bold and unprecedented move — both actors have deep ties to the Tri-Cities’ many theater companies and arts groups, but they’re doing this on their own.
They loved the script. They saw it in two strong parts, and in each other the chops to bring them to life.
It takes you from a serious relationship to this quirky, gone-awry proposal. You’re going to laugh.
Cameron Milton, actor
So they’re taking the plunge. “We both have a let’s-just-do-it-and-figure-it-out spirit of adventure,” Milton said.
For Newbury, “it’s a big step of saying, how can I take ownership of the art I’m creating?” she said. “As theater artists, we can create opportunities for ourselves.”
Performances are at 7:30 p.m. June 30 and July 1 at The Scarlet Room, 2820 N. Road 72.
In the 70-minute play, Newbury is Marianne, an academic who studies early universe cosmology, and Milton is a beekeeper named Roland.
Their love story unfolds in multiple vignettes, each presented multiple times — changing based on decisions, some big and some small, that the two characters make.
“It’s boy meets girl, girl meets boy, boy (or girl) gets and loses and gets girl (or boy) over and over again,” a New York Times theater critic wrote in a rave review.
“Who among us hasn’t tried to reconstruct a moment from our lives that had further-reaching consequences than we ever expected? ...Constellations assesses the variables of such moments, factoring in the unreliability of memory, and suggests how even a change in tone of voice can alter the course of events,” the review said.
Penned by English playwright Nick Payne, Constellations debuted at London’s Royal Court Theatre in 2012 to wide acclaim.
It jumped to Broadway in 2015, with Ruth Wilson and Jake Gyllenhaal playing Marianne and Roland.
(The play) is about the time we have on this planet and who we are in the space we have. It asks serious questions, like, (this) is our time — what does it mean and what do we do with it?
Anna Newbury, actor
Newbury and Milton said the show is, at times, uproariously funny.
“It takes you from a serious relationship to this quirky, gone-awry proposal,” Milton said. “You’re going to laugh.”
And you’ll be challenged, too.
“(The play) is about the time we have on this planet and who we are in the space we have,” Newbury said. “It asks serious questions, like, (this) is our time — what does it mean and what do we do with it?”
The Pasco production will include music by cellist Jesse Ahmann.
Newbury and Milton both grew up in the Tri-Cities — Newbury graduated from Pasco High in 2006 and Milton from Hanford High in 2001.
Both earned bachelor’s degrees and have forged careers in the arts.
If you’ve seen a Tri-City theater production in the last several years, you’ve seen their fingerprints — and likely seen them steal the show. They’ve both been riveting, magnetic parts of Rude Mechanicals productions in recent months — Milton as Antipholus of Syracuse in The Comedy of Errors and Newbury as Cassius in Julius Caesar.
I felt, this is the role for him. It felt like the right place and the right time. It felt like it would be a joy project. And it has been.
Anna Newbury, actor
They met in 2013 when both were cast in Richland Players’ staging of Proof.
In each other, they found kindred spirits. Milton said Newbury’s dedication is inspiring. And Newbury said Milton challenges her and makes her better.
When she read Constellations, she knew he was the right person to play Roland to her Marianne.
“I felt, this is the role for him. It felt like the right place and the right time,” she said. “It felt like it would be a joy project. And it has been.”
Milton nodded. “It has been.”
Their leap shows that you should “make art, make whatever you want to make. Don’t wait for permission from somebody else,” he said.
“Life’s too short,” Newbury said. “What do we do with the time we have?”
Tickets to Constellations are $20 and will be available at thescarletroomfoundation.com and at the door. Seating is limited and people are advised to buy ahead of time.