The Centering (co-written with Chris Harder)

11 l_b3c8a04d446279b3b1f14b9c281ac7c3THE CENTERING (co-written with Chris Harder): In a one-man thriller, a damaged young man becomes caught up in a national security dragnet. Driven to the edge by his interrogators, he dives deep into his own mind, finding wisdom from his mentor–an aging Arab clown–and an escape into the circus.

One-act drama. One male.


  • 2007 Boulder Fringe Festival.
  • August 2006, Edmonton Fringe Festival, full production.
  • June 2006, Back Door Theatre, full production, four-week run.
  • July 2005, Stark Raving Theatre; workshop production, one weekend.

In 2012, a restaging of The Centering, opening to universally strong reviews, extends for several weeks, and Andy Lee-Hillstrom wins a Drammy Award for Best Performer in a Solo Piece.

Marty Hughley, The Portland Oregonian, 2012:

Zucchino“The Centering” is a funny, charming, delightful show — especially for a play about a befuddled political prisoner being beaten and interrogated.

Originally created several years ago by actor Chris Harder and playwright Steve Patterson, this one-man performance piece presents a man named Davey, imprisoned and professing his innocence whenever he speaks to himself, his captors or others in his cell. It includes very brief depictions of Davey’s physical torment, his fear and despair. But much of it, we quickly come to understand, takes place within Davey’s beleaguered mind, as he seeks solace, or perhaps understanding, through memory and imagination. In this way we meet his mother, his childhood playmate, his mentor (an Arab named Hamoud who teaches him the art of clowning), and a rubber-nosed, Italian-accented alter-ego called Zucchino who entertains with an antic physicality and a trunk full of tricks.

Harder won a Drammy Award for outstanding performance in 2006 and toured this show to Fringe festivals, and recently revived the show as director, turning over the acting to Andy Lee-Hillstrom. In a May run at the Shoe Box Theatre, Lee-Hillstrom was magnificent — frail and vulnerable as Davey, delicately feminine without sliding into campiness as the female characters, and thoroughly endearing as the clown.

The new production was successful enough to merit an additional run June 7-17th, this time at the larger CoHo Theater in Northwest Portland. It’s a piece of sharp and thought-provoking yet subtle writing (concise, too — it’s barely an hour long), and worth catching too as yet another example of Lee-Hillstrom’s terrific physical and emotional precision.

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