Daily Archives: February 19, 2008

And the living become the dead….

This Saturday, “Dead of Winter” fades into the ether, with a tinge of brimstone and an echoing laugh. Tickets are going fast for the closer, so, if you want to see the show, I suggest you get your reservations in sooner than later as the house is small, and there’s a good chance we’ll sell out. Some press follows below. “Dead of Winter” has also received a “critic’s choice” note on Oregonlive.com. Call 503-777-2771 for reservations: tickets are $12 at the door, $10 for seniors and students. Or you can buy advance tickets for $10 at blustockings.com

Thanks everyone for your support (and for a wonderful cast and crew). After a couple of years of having my plays produced out of town, from Canada to New Zealand, it’s been great fun to come home again.

——————–

Followspot:
Three ghost-story style plays use familiar themes of séance, morgue, and clairvoyance. Still, tales presented from a different, often humorous, angle, making them intriguing and creepy. Sparse, specific design elements parallel style of show, leaving much to the imagination. Unusual location adds to haunting atmosphere. A fun and chilling evening.

An auience member:
Last night, I saw Dead of Winter, a collection of three short plays, ghost stories, really. It was like attending Le Grand Guignol in February. Each of the vignettes were short on gore and special effects, but still managed to be creepy as all hell and present a couple of good “jump” moments. I’d love to see this same crew put together something in a similar vein for Halloween. I’m a sucker for small-scale theater like this. I really enjoy seeing what can be done in a modest space, without a lot of flash to spend, with local playwrights and actors.

Oregonian:
“Dead of Winter” The Bluestockings (fresh off their invigorating “Spirits to Enforce”) team up with Pavement Productions to mount this trio of ghost stories by Portland playwright Steve Patterson. Opens 8 p.m. Friday, continues 8 p.m. Thursdays-Saturdays, through Feb. 23, Performance Works Northwest, 4625 S.E. 67th Ave.; $10-$12; http://www.theblustockings.com, 503-777-2771.

Portland Tribune:
Lurking behind this evening of ghost stories is local playwright Steve
Patterson, whose 2006 collaboration with actor Chris Harder led to a
Drammy-winning one-man show.

Dead of Winter delivers deliciously lo-fi spooks
by Caitlin McCarthy // arts editor, Pioneer Log, on 02/08 at 07:45 PM

Ghost story plays should most certainly be staged at SE Foster and 67th Ave. Foster Road (the closer it gets to 82nd Avenue, the smuttier) is a haven for warehouses, laundromats and pawnshops, so prepare to be spooked when you finally stumble upon Performance Works Northwest, nuzzled between a Russian bakery and a Sav-a-Lot. The three different worlds presented in the theatre’s current production, collectively titled Dead of Winter, will transport you from the dreary, rain-soaked, and all-too-realistic land of Foster Road straight into the fantastic and beyond.

What do Jack the Ripper, séances and the talking dead all have in common? Besides all being rather bone chilling, each is the topic of Dead of Winter’s trio of ghostly plays. The production is a conjoined effort by two Portland theatre companies, Pavement Productions and The Bluestockings. Co-founder of Pavement Productions, Steve Patterson is the playwright; co-Artistic Director of the same company, Lisa Abbott, directs.

Audience members are made to practically walk through the small set to get to their seats in Performance Works NW’s converted garage—or is it a hangar?—of a stage. Fold-up chairs and old pews, replete with cushions for optimum comfort, are crammed onto one side, making it quite the intimate experience. Potential theatre-goers should not be scared away—this is lo-fi theatre at its best, and the stifling setting makes the psychological twinge of terror in the air that much more palpable.

All of these ghost stories work just as well as whodunit tales of mystery. It’s up to the audience to figure out whether the characters’ perceptions are reality or an intense, but purely psychological, mystical experience. In Whitechapel, we meet Camellia Johnson, an American transplant living in London’s Whitechapel district; one-time stomping grounds of Jack the Ripper. A pompous English boyfriend, a blind medium and a few very stubborn spirits pepper this ghost hunt for Mr. Ripper himself.

Rowdy ghosts feature in the second play, Wet Paint. Set in “A House in a Small Northwest Town,” it tells the story of Bev, trying but not succeeding to renovate the second storey of her old, supernaturally drafty house. A séance turns from a half-joking suggestion to a production of very real results. The last scene is the strongest, but only can it be seen to be believed.

The Body, more than the other two, straddles the line between what is real and what are merely the twisted inner workings of an exhausted coroner. His newest corpse looks a little too much like his recently dead wife, but everyone knows the dead tell no tales…

Dead of Winter revels in its lo-fi production, making impressively minimal use of light and sound to scare us silly. Less emphasis is put on fancy props while more is given to dialogue and expressions—this coupled with the intimate setting made it reminiscent of old radio programming.” This atmosphere was perhaps also helped by the general age range in the room: this play’s so good, only adults go to it! So, go ahead, grow up with the ghost stories of Dead of Winter.

Dead of Winter is showing through February 23, Thurs-Sat, 8:00 p.m. at Performance Works Northwest, 4625 SE 67th Ave. $10 advance, $12 door, $10 student/senior; call 503-777-2771.


bad moon rising

Kosovo, a province in Serbia, declared independence yesterday.

I see the bad moon arising.
I see trouble on the way.
I see earthquakes and lightnin.
I see bad times today.

This is the district that in 1999 gave rise to NATO bombing, as Serbs attemped to hold on to part of their ancestral homeland. The problem being, of course, the native Albanians in the province predate the Serbs, going all the way back to the Ilrians. Don’t try to figure it out. Let’s just say a grudge in the Balkans less than 500 years old is a tiff.

dont go around tonight,
Well, its bound to take your life,
Theres a bad moon on the rise.

So the question is whether Serbia will bow to the inevitable and allow Kosovo’s independence, or whether they’ll fight. Since the announcement of Kosovo’s independence was greeted with hand grenades tossed at the U.S. embassy and U.N.’s mission, I have my suspicions.

I hear hurricanes a-blowing.
I know the end is coming soon.
I fear rivers over flowing.
I hear the voice of rage and ruin.

On the other hand, Slobodan Milosovic is out of the picture, so the pols in Belgrade may decide it’s the better part of valour to accept the motion of history. They still must deal with nationalistic factions that have never seen justice after the Bosnian War, and the Russians are backing the Serbs, fearing the situation in Kosovo could lead to uprisings in their own restive republics.

Dont go around tonight,
Well, its bound to take your life,
Theres a bad moon on the rise.
All right!

I wrote about this evil, crazy shit in a play called “Liberation” (recently published by Original Works Publishing), born of my fury regarding NATO’s inaction as Sarajevo, a great city, died a shabby death. I’m afraid I have even less faith in the current administration’s will to do right. I fear for the future. Ironically, “Liberation” opened the week NATO began bombing the Serbs in the Kosovo conflict. It was eerie. In 2003, another production coincided with our invasion of Iraq.

Hope you got your things together.
Hope you are quite prepared to die.
Looks like were in for nasty weather.
One eye is taken for an eye.

Any play honest about war is an anti-war play. Any play honest about what modern weapons do to people has to oppose those weapons. It’s inherent in looking at conflict unflinchingly. My heroes are Robert Capa, Ernie Pyle, Tim Page, James Natchwey–reporters who risked their life to bring back pictures you don’t want to see. In my writing about war, I’ve tried to live up to their example. I don’t know if I’ve managed, but that’s been the intention.

Dont go around tonight,
Well, its bound to take your life,
Theres a bad moon on the rise.

So I’m hoping, with all my soul, that cool heads prevail in Kosovo. But I have my doubts.

Dont go around tonight,
Well, its bound to take your life,
Theres a bad moon on the rise.