by Austin Community College

Feb. 23 - Mar. 03

Merrick Milburn, Julia Bennett (photo by Chloe Nichols)John Logan’s taut, visceral two-hander Red features artist Mark Rothko at the height of his career viewed through the lens of his youthful new assistant Ken. We witness Rothko at the pinnacle of his creativity but struggling through the creation of a series of large paintings, commissioned as a series intended to feature in New York’s brand-new Four Seasons Restaurant. As Ken and Rothko paint, they challenge each other to ask big questions about art: what it takes to create it and what its role should be in the world. Set in the 1950s, and based on a series of real events, Red takes a compelling look at the ever-changing relationship between an artist and his creations. 


"There is only one thing I fear in life, my friend... One day the black will swallow the red." 


          - Synopsis by Avital Shira 



Director: Ryan Williams









Letter from the Director of Red


“What is past and passing and to come.” 


I read this play in 2019 at the cusp of the pandemic and what followed was, as we all know,  a time of tumultuous change. People across the world had to pivot and devise new, creative means of producing work. This was integral to keeping businesses going and, for some, staying alive.  


I felt like our world was shifting: I went from living a normal day-to-day life to living through a global pandemic, and now I live in a world affected by it.


To me, RED encapsulated that shift.


It is a story of two individuals with vastly different upbringings working together: Rothko, trying his damnedest to stay relevant and remain true to tradition; and Ken, learning and fighting so desperately to exonerate Rothko of his fallacies. These two share unexpected and significant experiences over the course of several years, and just like us, must move on with newfound knowledge, appreciation of their experiences, and the uncertainty of an inevitable future.  


I originally pitched RED as a student show back in Spring 2022 and got approved for ACC Drama’s 2023-24 Season, and to say I was bursting at the seams with excitement would be an understatement.


I had the privilege of working with two incredibly talented and professional actors, Merrick Milburn [Rothko] and Julia Bennett [Ken]. They brought these characters to life with their natural mysticism and instincts, as well as making rehearsals a hoot-and-a-half; it was an honor directing them. I hope to see them continue their craft and perhaps work with them in the near future.


This team of designers - four ACC alumni and several current students from Drama and Fashion - brought this show to life from conception to design, construction to atmosphere. They are all such wonderfully talented and hard-working professionals whom I hope continue developing their skills and knowledge because I firmly believe their work must be experienced. They put in so much love and hard work in creating the world that is RED, and without them there would be no show.


I would also like to thank Marcus McQuirter for giving me the opportunity to direct this show - originally intended to be staged in a studio room - in the beautiful Black Box Theatre and for always believing in his students; as well as the other faculty members of the Drama Department. Their dedication to theatre and support for the students has been essential in the development of this show, and for that I am eternally grateful. 


If there’s one thing this show has taught me it’s that we humans are conflicted, contradicting beasts beholden to personal truths and beliefs moving in a finite world of finite truths, and sometimes we are…wrong. 


This is what red means to me… What does it mean to you?



Ryan Williams


by John Logan
Austin Community College

February 23 - March 03, 2024
Austin Community College Highland Campus
6101 AIrport Drive, Highland Campus
Building 2000, second floor
Austin, TX, 78752

February 23rd- March 3rd, 2024

Friday & Saturday 7:30 PM

Sunday 2:00 PM 

Only 6 performances! 

Austin Community College Highland Campus HLC2 Black Box Theater

All ticket sales go directly to the ACC Drama and Dance Scholarship Fund.