“Dry Powder” Delivers High-Finance To Seattle Rep

Wheeling and dealing are the real stars of the dramedy “Dry Powder” which is having its West Coast premiere at Seattle Repertory Theatre. Marya Sea Kaminski directs Sarah Burgess’ play about high finance, the income inequality and the collapse of American manufacturing

Set in New York City, the 100-minute, no-intermission play takes an insider’s look into the financial hotshots whose machinations manipulate the American economy.

The president of a private equity firm has sparked a PR nightmare by throwing himself a million dollar engagement party. His timing couldn’t be worse–he’s just forced massive layoffs at a national chain.

When one of his managing directors suggests a solution, another colleague counters with a counter move that could be a windfall for the company but that spells disaster for the “little guy.” FYI: The title “Dry Powder” refers to available investment capital on hand.

The play consists mostly of a back-and-forth match between Seth’s partners, who hope to solve the PR crisis. Helmed by first-time Seattle Rep director Marya Sea Kaminski, the Associate Artistic Director for the Rep, “Dry Powder” stars Shawn Belyea, Hana Lass, Richard Nguyen Sloniker, and MJ Sieber.

Dry Powder Seattle RepWhen it debuted at the Public Theater in New York City, critics had mixed reviews. Some thought it lacked insights, and it was “been there, done that.” They cited corporate raiders in the films like “Wall Street” and the fairy tale version, “Pretty Woman.”

The lesson: Private equity firms are no place for the faint of heart. They grab for massive personal gain with no concern for human losses. It’s called greed and it is escalating under the reign of our new president.

Financial insiders may already be familiar with the finance jargon in Burgess’ one-act; while others may need a tutelage on some of the. Terms like “sell-side banker,” “zero-based budgeting,” “dividend recap” and my favorite, “disintermediation”

The Sell Side tries to get the highest price possible for each financial instrument while providing insight and analysis. The market makers are the driving force on the Sell Side of the financial market.

Zero-Based Budgeting [hang onto your seats] is a method of budgeting in which all expenses must be justified for each new period. Zero-Based Budgeting starts from a “zero base” (duh), and every function within an organization is analyzed for its needs and costs. Subtract expenses from income and modify until your budget “zeros out” The goal of the Zero-Based Budget is to create a spending plan [Take a breath.], where your total income minus all of your monthly expenses will equal zero. If you do this [We’re getting there.], the first time and end up with a negative number, you need to decrease expenses [Got it?].

You really don’t want to know what Dividend Recap is . . . .

And finally we get to Disintermediation. When you disintermediate, you cut out the middleman in finance by the withdrawal of funds from intermediary financial institutions to invest them directly. Disintermediation is usually done to invest in instruments yielding a higher return. The goal of Disintermediation is to lower the overall cost involved in the completion of transactions. [Now, wasn’t that fun?]

The play promises humor, and now that we’ve had our lesson, we’re certain to get all the jokes.

“Dry Powder” runs March 17-April 15, 2017 at Seattle Repertory Theatre. Single tickets are on sale now through the Seattle Rep Box Office at 206.443.2222 and online at seattlerep.org



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Starla Smith

Starla Smith

Starla Smith is a career journalist, writing features for such publications as The New Yorker, The San Francisco Chronicle, The Daily News, The Des Moines Register, Vibe and a prize-winning Gannett Newspaper. She helped launch Theater Week Magazine and eventually became its publisher. As a regular contributor to Playbill, her interviews and photos were featured in Playbill and Playbill-on-line. Smith was featured in the New York Times "Style" section for her "Word Portraits," specialized tributes, speeches, and presentation profiles. And she covered theater and features for City Search, Digital City, and the Tena Duberry WOW! Radio show. She previously served as astrology guru for Out Magazine, and she hastens to assure her readers that "Starla" is indeed her real name.

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