Let’s Get Plowed

Warning: serious fun ahead.

Portland is about to launch an inaugration of its own: the Fertile Ground City-Wide Festival of New Work. From January 23rd to February 1st, theatres all over Portland have committed to staging new plays, from full productions to concert readings. It’s kind of like a South-by-Southwest music festival but for theatre, where you can buy a pass and theatre-hop for a couple weeks. Or you can by a button and get into shows at a discount. (You can also just buy tickets regularly, of course.) It’s a grand experiment, and the Portland theatre community, especially playwrights, hope it’s a smashing success that becomes an ongoing, annual event. No matter how it turns out, it’s great to see theatre companies take a chance on something new. For more info, go to Fertile Ground. Special thanks to Tricia Pancio (there’s imp herself, above right) for being the little-engine-that-could get this thing going. She’s worked her ass off, and Portland theatre community (and the whole city) owe her a big round of applause.

And…yes: I’ll have something in the festival. PlayGroup, the writers group I belong to at Portland Center Stage will present….

Open City by Althea Hukari, Shelly Lipkin, Ellen Margolis, Steve Patterson, Andrea Stolowitz, Patrick Wohlmut, Nick Zagone, and Matthew B. Zrebski
Portland Center Stage Playgroup

Festival Dates: Feb 2 at 7:30 pm

For this group show created by PlayGroup (whose previous escapades include The Clearing, Frenching the Bones and Ten Tiny Playlets) and directed by Matt Zrebski, each playwright pulled a Portland location and a cast size out of hat, then went to work on a short play inspired by those circumstances. The result, presented in rehearsed concert form, is a kaleidoscopic vision of the Rose City that adds up to a town we all recognize.

Venue: Main Stage, Gerding Theater at the Armory (128 NW 11th Ave)

And the fabulous Gary Garrison, Executive Director of Creative Affairs for the Dramatists Guild, will be visiting our fair city on Saturday 31, 2008, speaking at at Portland Center Stage’s Ellen Bye Studio Theater from 1:30-3:00 PM about all things playwright, followed by a town hall discussion about playwriting in Portland and Oregon in general.

More to come on that as well, but it’s a sign that (a) the Fertile Ground Festival is going to be one hell of a special event; and (b) Portland’s playwriting community is beginning to be recognized beyond the borders of Multnomah County.

As Hunter Thompson would say: good craziness.

The Ship is Under Sail

Well, the End of the Pavement Micro New Works Festival (or EPMNWF for the acronym crazed) has been officially launched in high style.

This weekend was Nick Zagone’s “The Muffin,” which was well received by appreciative audiences and featured fine performances by Hunt Holman and Cassie Skauge and nuanced direction by Katherine Zagone. Post-show audiences were chatty and happy, which is always a good sign. (If you’re a producer or director out there looking for a wicked little two-hander that would work well as a late-night, let me know, and I can put you in touch with Nick.) Thanks to all my co-conspirators and our audiences who took off an absolutely perfect Portland summer night to take a chance on a new play.

Next up on Friday and Saturday is Matthew B. Zrebski’s “Rubber ‘n’ Glue”–which fits into the category of “and now for something completely different” and features a fine cast and direction also by the talented Mr. Zrebski. Reservations are already piling up, so give me a call at 503-312-6665 or e-mail at splatterson@mindspring.com because the Back Door is a relatively small theatre and fills quickly.

My play “Farmhouse” opens the following weekend and is definitely a fall down an entirely other rabbit hole. It also features a stunning cast. We wrap up the festival the Fifth of July with “Ubu Lives!”–eight short plays inspired by Ubu Roi, at which point we most definitely we will be in terra incognita (in a good way). Here there be dragons…. The Ubu plays are helmed by four excellent Portland directors and feature playwrights from across the United States.

Many thanks to our cast, crew, and splendid audience, and here’s hoping you can check out the next installment of Pavement’s Excellent Adventure.