Fertile Ground Portland

A Festival of New Works Blog

FLASH READS Playwrights Ellen Margolis & Claire WIllett January 28, 2014

Filed under: Uncategorized — fertilegroundpdx @ 5:19 pm
Image

Ellen Margolis playwright, “Calmunies”

claire bw nice

Claire Willett, playwright, “Carter Hall”

Flash Reads  is a new partnership between Artists Repertory Theatre and Playwrights West to present stripped-down world premiere readings of new work by the award-winning Portland writers of Playwrights West.  The first two plays will be presented at Fertile Ground Festival 2014.  CALUMNIES by Ellen Margolis and CARTER HALL by Claire Willett, with music by Steeleye Span. We interviewed Ellen and Claire to learn more about their new plays and what makes them tick:

ELLEN MARGOLIS and CLAIRE WILLETT

1) An artist or artists in my field I have a giant artist crush on is/are . . .

Ellen: Will Eno, Alan Bennett

Claire: Neil Gaiman

2) A work or works that has/have shaped my artistic voice is/are . . .

Ellen: Anything by Anthony Clarvoe or Caryl Churchill

Claire: Tom Stoppard’s Arcadia

3) When I’m not creating art you can often find me . . .

Ellen: Watching my kids play basketball, watching the Trail Blazers play basketball

Claire: Binge-watching Doctor Who

4) Songs on my creative inspiration playlist are . . .

Ellen: “Tear-Stained Letter” (Richard Thompson), “Red Dirt Girl” (Emmylou Harris)

Claire: In addition to listening to Steeleye Span (the 1970’s British folk band whose songs are featured in Carter Hall) over and over on repeat, here are a few other current faves from my writing playlist: “From This Valley,” The Civil Wars; “Storm Coming,” The Wailin’ Jennys; “Let My Love Open the Door,” Luminate; “Ne’er Do Wells,” Audra Mae & the Almighty Sound; “If I Had a Boat,” Lyle Lovett. Also, I’m OBSESSED with the Nashville soundtrack and I don’t care who knows it.

5) A Portland artist/creative/arts or other community or social services organization I’d love to work with is . . .

Ellen: PETE, Shaking the Tree, Cerimon House

Claire: Isaac Lamb and Maureen Porter.  Preferably together.

6) I am terrified of . . .

Ellen: Fundamentalism

Claire: Vulnerability

7) I am obsessed with . . .

Ellen: My family

Claire: Christmas

8) Favorite books and/or books currently on my nightstand are . .

Ellen: Currently reading The Shallows: What the Internet is Doing to Our Brains by Nicholas Carr. It’s a terrific study, far more complex than the title might suggest. I haven’t even got to the internet part yet; the book starts by examining how technologies throughout history – including written language – have been thought to affect our brains.

Claire: I got a ton of books for Christmas, so my nightstand stack is HUGE. I just finished Hyperbole and a Half by Allie Brosh, the book version of her AMAZING blog by the same name; an anthology of the collected works of Nora Ephron, who is my hero; and Father James Martin’s A Jesuit Off-Broadway, his memoir of spending six months as a kind of theological consultant-slash-chaplain to a New York theatre company creating a new play about Judas Iscariot. I am in the middle of Jane McGonigal’s Reality Is Broken: Why Games Make Us Better and How They Can Change the World, and The Name of the Wind, a fantasy novel by Patrick Rothfuss – both recommendations from my brother. Next up in the pile is I’m Your Man, a biography of Leonard Cohen, and Neil Gaiman’s Neverwhere.

9) The three words that describe your piece in the Festival are . . .

Ellen: “Calmunies” Sexy, twisty, violent

Claire: “Carter Hall”  Whimsical, eerie, haunting

10) In the bio-flick of my Life, I should be played by . . .

Ellen: Emma Thompson (because I’d get to meet her!)

Claire: Queen Latifah

11) Tell us about your creative process. How do you work? When do you work? What gets you inspired? How do you fight inertia and creative blocks?

Ellen: Getting started on a project, which means churning out a lot of material, I do best with a big chunk of time and a designated space. Later, or when things are flowing, I can write anywhere and especially in response to what’s happening in the rehearsal room.

Claire: I so badly wish I was one of those early-bird morning people who gets up at 5 a.m. and writes for hours with a pot of coffee before work.  I desperately envy those people.  I wrote the first draft of Carter Hall in about two weeks over the summer, and it was absolutely insane.  My college best friend was staying with me, and he had never lived with a playwright on a manic writing bender; we kept crossing paths at  2 or 3 in the morning as he was heading off to his morning shift at the bakery and I was finishing up and staggering to bed. I think he thought I was going insane; he’d leave the house on a Sunday morning while I was writing at the dining room table in my pajamas, and he’d be gone all day and come home like twelve hours later and I’d be sitting in the exact same position, and he’d be like, “ . . . Have you even moved?”  I’ve never written a play that fast before.  I couldn’t go to bed until I had downloaded everything from my brain because I knew if I slept, I’d forget it.  It was exhausting and exhilarating at the same time. When I needed a pick-me-up, I relied on my classic inertia-fighting standby: blasting Queen really, really loud.   

ABOUT YOUR SHOW IN THE FESTIVAL

Artists Repertory Theatre presents Flash Reads at Artists Rep New work by Playwrights West Artists Repertory Theatre, Morrison Stage (1515 SW Alder) January 27th @ 7:30 p.m. Calumnies by Ellen Margolis January 28th @ 7:30 p.m. Carter Hall by Claire Willett (music by Steeleye Span) Gather with us to hear a surprise script…a stripped down to the words, brand-spanking new play from one of Playwrights West’s cadre of seasoned Portland playwrights. You’ll get to hear a new work at start of its development – and we promise it will be an exciting ride. Playwrights West is a professional theatre company focused on presenting top-level productions of its members’ work and supporting development of original work in Portland.

Image

“Calmunies” based on a true crime, by Ellen Margolis

CALUMNIES: Based on a real-life crime of passion, Calumnies is a tale of sex and scandal, race and revenge. The story unfolds in 1820s Kentucky, where old-world society meets wild western free-for-all, and the only thing rougher than the politics are the love affairs. Scraping by on the outskirts of Frankfort, Olivia Burke leads a precariously independent life. Her father is dead, her mother is bedridden, and her affair with Leopold Brass, a family man and aspiring politician, cannot end well. Enter Obediah Dupree, a naïve and feverishly romantic young man who would like to cast himself as the hero in her story. When Olivia becomes pregnant, the pressures increase–and secrets, lies, and slanders become the currency of her world. The cast includes Matthew DiBiasio, Kayla Lian, James Peck, Jameson Tabor, and Ithica Tell.

Image

CARTER HALL: Janet Carter and her young daughter Lucy spend every summer in a vacation rental cottage at Carter Hall, the crumbling old manor that once belonged to Janet’s family and is now a Historical Society-owned tourist trap. Janet has nothing more pressing in mind for the next few months than lazy time with her daughter (a hyper-imaginative child whose hobbies include practicing exorcisms and pretending to be a ninja), reminiscences with Alec, the ancient gardener who has known her all her life – and perhaps a little summer flirtation with Alec’s handsome new assistant Thomas. But when the boy in the cottage next door goes missing on Midsummer Eve, Janet and Lucy are pulled headlong into a supernatural mystery that forces them both to confront the hidden reality that magical forces are at work in their daily lives. To rescue the boy, Thomas risks losing Janet forever by revealing the truth about who he really is – a fugitive from the fairy underworld hiding under Alec’s protection. Janet, Thomas and Lucy set forth on a dark and dangerous quest to the mist-shrouded land of the fairies, braving dangerous creatures, impossible riddles, and the darkest secrets of their own hearts to rescue the missing child and bring him home. Music performed live by Ken and Claire Willett. How did this work come about? What inspired it? The murder at the center of Calumnies took place in my husband’s family. His great-great-great grandfather was the Kentucky Attorney General Solomon Sharp, who was at the center of a huge story, quite notorious in its time. I had heard about it over the years, but when I finally sat down to find out who these people were, I became obsessed by the collisions of public and private within the tragedy. In the end, I took massive liberties with the facts, but the guts of it come from this real case. A long, long time ago I had loosely sketched out a few bits and pieces of a potential new work that was my first stab at writing a play for kids, a story about a little girl whose best friend goes missing and she decides to sleuth around and solve the mystery herself. Then my computer got stolen, and I hadn’t backed anything up because I was one of those idiots who never back anything up, so the script never got finished. But that little girl stuck around in my mind. Then I went on a major Neil Gaiman binge this summer, and read five of his books in about a week while I was at the beach for Fourth of July with my family. I became fascinated by his stories of plucky, oddball kids who discover fantastic supernatural forces at work in their daily lives. And I remembered that weird, over-imaginative little girl from that script I never finished, and I thought, “Okay, it’s time for you to get your story.” As the play evolved and I locked in on the specific Scottish mythology I would be using, I found myself turning more and more for inspiration to the music of Steeleye Span, a British folk band from the 60’s and 70’s that my mother absolutely loved. I grew up on their music, much of which is based on adaptations of the same 13th-century Scottish fairy ballads I was researching for the play. I didn’t set out to write a musical, but eventually I realized that the play needed those songs to flesh out the story. It’s an exciting new challenge as a writer to be playing with this music, but it also makes it so deeply personal – I’m sharing the soundtrack of my childhood with this audience. (Literally, since my dad and I will be performing the music live at the reading!)

 

Meet the Artist: Sandra de Helen February 5, 2013

Filed under: New Work at Fertile Ground 2013,the writing process — fertilegroundpdx @ 9:09 pm
Tags: , , ,

Sandra de Helen wrote The Godmother, produced by PDX Playwrights at Fertile Ground 2013 shown as a staged reading January 27 at Hipbone Studio.

The Godmother tells the story of a young butch lesbian whose crime family bristles at her leadership after the murder of her brother.

http://www.sandradehelen.com/

https://www.facebook.com/godmothertomboy/photos_albums

465000_10150731191174242_261785447_o
Sandra de Helen, playwright

With Kate Kasten, Sandra co-founded Actors’ Sorority, a women’s theater company in Kansas City, Missouri. When she later moved to Oregon, she founded the Portland Women’s Theatre Company. Most recently (2008), she is a founding member of Penplay a group of playwrights and screenwriters dedicated to developing the new work of multicultural voices.

Some of her plays have characters from mid-Missouri, where she was born and raised. With these plays and monologues, she hopes to preserve a way of speaking that is fading away. Sandra has studied with Maria Irene Fornes, and with Matt Zrebski. She learned playwriting by reading, writing, and producing plays beginning in the 1970s.

Sandra says that she is exploring the possibility of doing a web series based on The Godmother and is also hoping for the opportunity to mount a full stage production.

POP QUIZ

1. An Artist or Artists in My Field I Have a Giant Artist Crush On Is . . . Katori Hall. I love seeing young women making a name for themselves in this business. Stepping out early and with courage. I also love that she made a stand for same sex marriage. She didn’t have to. I also have to acknowledge a crush I’ve had since March 1979: Peggy Shaw. She is a butch lesbian who — with femme lesbian Lois Weaver and straight woman Deb Margolin — has been making extraordinary theatre for thirty-three years. When I first saw her she was still part of Spider Woman Theatre, but the three named formed Split Britches in 1980 and they are still at it.

2. A Work That Has Shaped My Artistic Voice Is . . . The Judy Garland/Andy Rooney movies with the “Hey Kids Let’s put on a show!” troupe (Babes on Broadway) shaped me more than plays, until I’d already written ten or fifteen. I started out writing musical comedies. I’ve moved on to drama — finally.

3. When I’m Not Creating Art You Can Often Find Me. . . in the garden.

4. Five Songs On My Writing/Painting/Creating Playlist Are . . . I’m A Fool to Want You (Billie Holiday), Feelin the Same Way (Norah Jones), anything by k.d. lang (I have it all), opera, arias by Leontyne Price, Renee Fleming, etc.

5. A Portland Artist/Creative/Arts Organization I’d Love To Work With Is . . . A.R.T.

6. I Am Terrified Of . . the usual suspects. Nothing to see here.

7. I Am Obsessed With . . .Being productive. I am always working on at least two projects.

8. The Books Currently On My Nightstand are . . too many. Not only do I have hard backs and paper backs stacked up, I have more than 100 stashed on my Kindle now. I’m usually reading two or three at a time, but this week I’m reading only one: The Heretic’s Daughter by Kathleen Kent. That’s because I’m writing a new play called THE BURNING TIMES.

9. Three Adjectives That Describe THE GODMOTHER Are . . . Sexy, violent, funny.

10. In the Indie Art-House Biographical Film Of My Life, I Should Be Played By . . . Kathleen Turner

374792_527037900658362_1869561330_n Godmother Tommy Boy McCorkle

BEHIND THE SCENES

1) Tell us about your Fertile Ground Festival work. THE GODMOTHER is a thirty-three year old Tomboy McCorkle who takes over her crime family upon the murder of her brother. She’s looking for love while wrangling a bunch of mobsters, a passel of working girls, and a sixteen year old brother. The family has to solve the murder, stay in business, war with the competing families, and Tomboy is the butch who has to lead them through this mess. It’s 1928 in Kansas City, the height of Prohibition. Speakeasies, jazz and Tommyguns. And now a lesbian leader.

2) How did this work come about? What inspired it? I read an article in the Kansas City Star about women becoming Godmothers and running Mafia families after their husbands or brothers were killed or imprisoned. That, combined with my once having lived in Kansas City in a mob neighborhood, inspired me to create a godmother story of my own.

3) Talk about your creative process. (How do you work? When do you work? What gets you inspired?) I start with a story and characters. I usually do some mind mapping on paper, and once I have a story in mind, I use Blake Snyder’s Beat Sheet to create an outline from which to write my play. The beat sheet becomes the scaffolding for me. I refer back to it constantly as I write scenes. I may write scenes that fit in anywhere, then move them around to fit the beat sheet. The beat sheet comes from Snyder’s “Save the Cat!” created for screenwriters. I find it useful for stage plays, short stories, even for novels. As for when I work, I generally write every day. For instance, in November 2012 I joined about 300,000 people for NaNoWriMo and wrote a novel in a month. (50,000 in 30 days). Now I have to find time to edit it.
As for what gets me inspired, I’d have to say that being alive is inspiration enough most days. I can always find something to write about, and when I am writing on a regular basis, I love my life.

 

Meet the Artist: Sydney Somerfield

 Sydney Pulp Diction 2

Sydney Somerfield, playwright, Best Friends Forever, part of Pulp Diction IV,  at Fertile Ground 2013

Sydney Somerfield previously wrote The Devil Made Me Do It for PULP DICTION III.  She is a co-founder of Willamette Shakespeare with her husband, Daniel. While fairly new to playwriting, she has performed as an actor in Portland, Seattle and Los Angeles. She holds a bachelor’s degree in Theatre Arts from the University of Oregon and is currently working through a Feldenkrais Professional Training Program. Best Friends Forever a one act play was presented as part of  Pulp Diction IV, produced by Pulp Stage at Fertile Ground 2013.

http://thepulpstage.weebly.com/about-us.html

POP QUIZ

1. An Artist or Artists in My Field I Have a Giant Artist Crush On Is. . . 

I love Caryl Churchill and the way she plays with language. And I have a big sci-fi writer-crush on Steven Moffat.

2.  A Work That Has Shaped My Artistic Voice Is . . .

Best Friends Forever was probably influenced by my brief obsession as a teenager with the movie Heathers.

3. When I’m Not Creating Art You Can Often Find Me. . .

I’m in a certification training program for the Feldenkrais Method, so I spend a lot of time rolling around on the floor and learning about how the human body moves.

4. Five Songs On My Writing/Painting/Creating Playlist Are . . . 

I can’t listen to anything with words when I write and sometimes I even find music distracting. Instead, I play nature loops of ambient rain or thunderstorms as a way of tuning everything out.

5. A Portland Artist/Creative/Arts Organization I’d Love To Work With Is . . .

I think there are so many amazing women acting in Portland and I’m interested in creating more opportunities for women to perform in Portland.

6. I Am Terrified Of 

Karaoke.

7. I Am Obsessed With . . .

Neuroscience.

8. The Books Currently On My Nightstand is.. . . 

I just finished Chaos by James Gleick which kind of blew my mind. I just picked up Daring Greatly by Brene Brown from the library and Why Zebras Don’t Get Ulcers by Robert Sapolsky is next in my library queue.

9. Three Adjectives That Describe This Work Are . . .

silly, killer, bitchy

10. In the Indie Art-House Biographical Film Of My Life, I Should Be Played By . . .

Michelle Williams has a similar vibe. If it was a comedy-musical version, then it might be Amy Adams.

Best Friends Forever- Jessi Walters, Kaia Maarja Hillier, Julianna Wheeler, (director Joel Patrick Durham)Best Friends Forever rehearsal with Jessi Walters, Kaia Maarja Jillier, Julianna Wheeler and director Joel Patrick Durham

BEHIND THE SCENES

1) Tell us about your Fertile Ground Festival work. 

Best Friends Forever is a 10 minute short that is part of the Pulp Diction Sampler at the Brody Theatre. In BFF, three teenage girls use a Ouija board to contact a friend on the “other side.”

2) How did this work come about?  What inspired it?

I wrote the first incarnation of BFF in a playwriting class with Francesca Sanders. She had suggested using artistic constraints to push creativity, so I chose three objects – a Ouija board, Vaseline, and a dollar bill to start. Two of those objects eventually dropped away, but all of them helped shape the play. I knew that I wanted to write women’s roles (more constraints) and that I didn’t want more than 3 characters (another constraint). My only experience using a Ouija board was in college and “the board” started to count down. It was terrifying, so that moment shows up too.

3) Talk about your creative process.  (How do you work?  When do you work?  What gets you inspired?)

I’m new to writing, so I’m still learning how I work. So far, I find it helpful to begin writing the scene or the characters that excite me the most and then I build from there. It feels more like an inflating process – blowing it up and stretching it out. Eventually there’s a structure to play with and I can do the really fun part – rewriting.  Sharing my writing and getting feedback from peers or mentors is really important. During the rehearsal process, I had a great conversation with Joel Patrick Durham, who is directing BFF and now I’ve got some ideas about how to really hone the piece.

My biggest inspiration comes from deadlines. When I know that I have to present or submit something by a certain date, the pieces just come together – sometimes in fun and unexpected ways.

 

Something’s Got Ahold of My Heart Hand2Mouth review by Pearl Waldorf February 4, 2013

(lowrez)h2m_Heart_MatthewDieckmanJulieHammondMaesie SpeerLiz HaydenFaithHelma_photoPatrickWeishampelSomething’s Got Ahold of My Heart
Hand2Mouth

Thursdays-Sundays @8PM until Feb 17th
Studio 2 810 SE Belmont Tickets: $12-15
Buy tickets: https://app.ticketturtle.com/index.php?actions=4&p=2

http://www.hand2mouththeatre.org/

review by Pearl Waldorf:
I was seduced last night. By the hand2mouth ensemble. Yup. I am head over heels. If you were there, I’m betting you are too. Something’s Got a Hold of My Heart is not a play exploring themes of the heart. It is an encounter with 6 captivating lovers who won’t let up, not until we will follow them anywhere.

What makes our hand2mouth affair so alluring? Never once do we question we are in the deft hands of experts who know love pulses in the chest and in the gut, it is short breaths and low moans. It lives in fists and tears and long lusty looks.

Our hosts condense time to drive home the tension. Music vibrates through the evening to guarantee we feel not think. It’s our dance party, our boxing match. We are refreshingly released from any requirement to track story. Our entire experience is designed to hold us gentle, rough, desperate moment by moment.

At this point you may be wondering, how can hand2mouth’s Something’s Got Ahold of My Heart give us the unbridled intensity, the drama, the abandon of love without cheapening it? A fully formed rock show of course, no holds barred. I’m smitten. You will be too.

hand2mouth ensemble members: Julie Hammond, Maesie Speer, Liz Hayden and Faith Helma
Something’s Got Ahold of My Heart Hand2Mouth 8pm Jan 31st- Feb 17th Studio 2 810 SE Belmont I was seduced last night. By the hand2mouth ensemble. Yup. I am head over heels. If you were there, I’m betting you are too. Something’s Got a Hold of My Heart is not a play exploring themes of the heart. It is an encounter with 6 captivating lovers who won’t let up, not until we will follow them anywhere. What makes our hand2mouth affair so alluring? Never once do we question we are in the deft hands of experts who know love pulses in the chest and in the gut, it is short breaths and low moans. It lives in fists and tears and long lusty looks. Our hosts condense time to drive home the tension. Music vibrates through the evening to guarantee we feel not think. It’s our dance party, our boxing match. We are refreshingly released from any requirement to track story. Our entire experience is designed to hold us gentle, rough, desperate moment by moment. At this point you may be wondering, how can hand2mouth’s Something’s Got Ahold of My Heart give us the unbridled intensity, the drama, the abandon of love without cheapening it? A fully formed rock show of course, no holds barred. I’m smitten. You will be too.

review by Pearl Waldorf

 

Meet the Artists: Andrew Fridae, Olivia Murphy, Josh Gulotta February 1, 2013

MinusDanProductions_AndrewFridae_OliviaMurphy_JoshGulotta

Ribbons of War!, adapted from a rock opera by Jay Purdy-
Left to right: Playwright & Musical Director:Andrew Fridae; Production Manager:Olivia Murphy and Director: Josh Gulotta

Fri Feb 1@ 7:30PM – Sat Feb 2 @7:30PM – Sun Feb 3 @2:30PM
Shaking the Tree 1407 SE Stark St

http://www.facebook/ribbonsofwar

http://theextraordinaires.bandcamp.com/album/ribbons-of-war

Olivia, Andrew and Josh all went to Bennington College together in Vermont and ultimately landed in Portland where they decided to adapt Purdy’s musical for the stage. They – and the rest of the company who have worked with them on Ribbons of War! – are terribly inventive, collaborative, talented, humble, playful, generous and … will break into song unpredictably at any time and invite you to join in!

RibbonsOfWar_MaxMaller_KevinNewlandScott_dirJoshGulotta_photographerChelseaIbarra-1

Land ho! Adventure! Romance! Sea Monsters! Ribbons of War tells the story of the lovely young pilot, Annelies, who abandons her island home to marry a tough and striking sea captain and join the madcap crew of the Good Ship Valiant, a surprisingly warm-hearted psychopath, an innocent and curious couple and an omniscient turtle dove.

RibbonsOfWar_JenniferElkington_BaharBaharloo_JimCraig_DanielEast_dirJoshGulotta_photographerChelseaIbarra-1

POP QUIZ

1. An Artist or Artists in Our Field we Have a Giant Artist Crush On are . . .

All of us: Jay Purdy and the Extraordinaires! They are the foundation of this musical and have been so supportive as we turn their album into a play.

2. A Work That Has Shaped My Artistic Voice Is . . .

Josh: “The Fantasticks. So much of the musical is about theater magic and letting simple things tell bug stories.”

3. When We’re Not Creating Art You Can Often Find Me/Us . . .

All of us: Playing music together.

photo(2)-1
4. Five Songs On My/Our Writing/Painting/Creating Playlist Are . . .

How about one from each of us?

Josh: Tomorrow Gone, by Stew

Andrew: St. Elsewhere, by Gnarls Barkley

Olivia: Farewell Angelina, Wake the Dead

5. A Portland Artist/Creative/Arts Organization we’d Love To Work With Is . . .

All of us: So much support for our show came from Artists Repertory Theatre – we love them!

RibbonsOfWar_JenniferElkington_BaharBaharloo_dirJoshGulotta_photographerChelseaIbarra-1

6. I Am Terrified Of .

Olivia, production manager: “Spiders! A big problem when we’re rehearsing in my garage.”

7. We are Obsessed With . . .

All of us: Ribbons of War!

8. The Books Currently On Our Nightstands are . .

Josh: “Concise History of the Middle of East, by Goldschmidt and Davidson.”

Olivia: “Shirley, by Charlotte Bronte. I wrote my senior thesis on the Brontes and am re-reading!”

9. Three Adjectives That Describe This Work Are . . .

How about three words? “Hearts not parts” – it’s all about love!

BEHIND THE SCENES

1) Tell us about your Fertile Ground Festival work.

Populated by fun and fantastic characters like Sophia the turtledove and Oswald the one handed gunman, Ribbons of War tells two parallel tales of love and tragedy.

First, we are introduced to Darling and Dearest, hopelessly in love and held captive by the Evil Captain Hart, enemy to all those who dare find true love on the seven seas.

While imprisoned, Darling and Dearest are brought scraps of letters, captain logs, and journals by a friendly turtledove, Sophia. The documents belong to Annelies and The Captain, women who meet and immediately elope on The Captain’s ship. These two and their crew set sail, navigate the stormy waters of a new marriage, and battle the Kraken all while Darling and Dearest lose themselves in the story but never forget their own immediate peril.

With fantastic songs by the band The Extraordinaires, Ribbons of War is a camp-filled joyride for the whole family!

RibbonsOfWar_JenniferElkington_dirJoshGulotta_photographerChelseaIbarra-1

2) How did this work come about? What inspired it?

Ribbons of War was originally the bold vision of singer/songwriter Jay Purdy about two lovers, one chained to the sea, and the other to the sky. This particular project began when the director, Josh Gulotta, attended a concert played by The Extraordinaires. Gulotta was enthralled with the music and the vision, and immediately contacted his close collaborator, Andrew Fridae, about writing a play to tell the story sung in Purdy’s music. Gulotta and Fridae are both musicians themselves and have written additional songs to supplement the script. The play has never been produced in this form before, and as such Fertile Ground was the exact opportunity Gulotta and Fridae needed to bring this play to Portland audiences.

3) Talk about your creative process. (How do you work? When do you work? What gets you inspired?)

Josh, director: “The most unique thing about this process for me was Andrew Fridae, whose role in the rehearsal room was both musical director and playwright. We’d be in the rehearsal room, I’d ask Andrew to play some incidental music, and the themes he came up with created an atmosphere for the play to live in. It could feed off the dialogue, and the dialogue could feed off of it.”

 

Meet the Artist: JENNY GREENMILLER January 29, 2013

JENNI  GREENMILLER

JENNI GREENMILLER’s new play, “An Island,” is based on the true story of Arthur and Nan Kellam, who in 1949 purchased and moved to a 550-acre island off the coast of Maine.

Workshop reading of “An Island” Sunday February 3rd at 3:30PM
Hipbone Studios 1847 East Burnside Street

Nan and Arthur Kellam tested their marriage and their values by cutting their ties to a more conventional world. Nan, an economist and Arthur, an engineer rumored to have worked on the atomic bomb during WW II, chose to live a very rustic existence on Placentia Island for nearly 40 years, cut off from the world in which at one time, they had both thrived.

The Kellams wrote daily in journals, known collectively as The Big Book, from June 8, 1949 to August 8, 1975. Jenni will travel to Maine to continue her research and to visit Placentia Island which is now in trust with the Nature Conservancy. She will also visit the SW Harbor Main Public Library, which houses the Kellams’ journals. Jenni won a Regional Arts and Culture Council grant to conduct this extensive research and complete her play. This summer, she will hold a reading of the completed script as part of the Scriptorium Project at MilePost 5.

1274050455_1c82

Jenni studied communications and theater at Portland State University, studying playwriting with Karin Magaldi. She is a graduate of the Portland Actors Conservatory and was a member of the Sowelu Theater acting ensemble where she participated as an actor in their new works project. Jenni has studied with the SITI Co. in Syracuse, NY, and with Burning Wheel / Siti Co. in Los Angeles, CA. She is a professional speaker and copywriter for non-profit organizations, crafting stories and advocating for the work these organizations do throughout our community. Jenni has acted on various stages throughout the greater Portland area, including; ART, Lakewood Theater Co., Curious Comedy, Lunacy Productions, Brainwaves, and Sowelu Theater Co.
Jenni likes all baked goods, pie especially, donuts and red wine. But really good red wine.

Pop Quiz

1. An Artist or Artists in My Field I Have a Giant Artist Crush On Is/are . . . 

Charles Mee & Sarah Ruhl

2.  A Work That Has Shaped My Artistic Voice Is . . .

I saw True Love by Charles Mee at the Zipper Theater in NYC—loved it. The next night I saw Strindberg’s, Dance of Death starring Ian McKellan, Helen Mirren and David Strathairn… I about peed my pants. And then sometime around that same time, or a year before or after, I saw Defunkt do Mee’s, The Investigation of the Murder in El Salvador, and I peed my pants again. (or before. I can’t remember)

Plus poetry and composition work.

3. When I’m Not Creating Art You Can Often Find Me . . .

At the Grocery Store.

4. Five Songs On My Writing/Painting/Creating Playlist Are . . . 

I know I’m supposed to put something cultured and intellectually stimulating here but honestly I only listen to music when I’m stuck and can’t get my fingers to move across the keyboard anymore, so it probably doesn’t really matter what I listen, it’s really just about jumping up and down, breaking through the silence, finding another note… Oh alright… PINK…. or Bach’s Cello Suites

5. A Portland Artist/Creative/Arts Organization I’d Love To Work With Is . . .

All of them.

6. I Am Terrified Of . .

This questionnaire
 
7. I Am Obsessed With . . .

Non-Fat Plain Greek Yogurt

8. The Books Currently On My Nightstand is . . 

The Lovers Discourse; Roland Barthes
Tender Buttons; Gertrude Stein
The Hobbit; J.R.R. Tolkein
The Peoples History of the United States; Howard Zinn (a bit dusty, but still)
The Poisonwood Bible; Barbara Kingslover
Stories 1,2,3, 4; Eugene Ionesco & Etienne Delessert

9. Three Adjectives That Describe This Work Are . . .

It’s still in process so it’s difficult to say.
quiet
spatial
pointed

10. In the Indie Art-House Biographical Film Of My Life, I Should Be Played By . . .

I don’t know. This one makes me chuckle. And then blush.

BEHIND THE SCENES
1) Tell us about your Fertile Ground Festival work. 

THE STORY:
In 1949, seeking isolation from the rest of the world, Arthur and Nan Kellam purchased a 550-acre island off the coast of Maine. Arthur was an engineer for Lockheed Martin where he was on the team that engineered the Atomic bomb. Nan Kellam was an economist. The Kellam’s lived on Placentia Island for nearly 40 years, essentially cut off from the rest of the world. They sought freedom from material things and from dependence on technology; independence from others and their expectations; a closer rapport with Nature; the development of self-reliance; and a better perspective on oneself, on marriage, and on the meaning of life. The play is a portrait of their lives, the mental and physical toll of such an unusual lifestyle, and yet a beautifully devoted and loving relationship that endured and prospered in isolation.
In this year’s Fertile Ground, we will be reading a rough draft, of the play.

2) How did this work come about?  What inspired it?

In 2003 I came across an article written in the NY Times about Art & Nan Kellam and their life on the Island. I was fascinated with their love story so I ripped it out and tucked it away inside of some journal that ended up inside of my desk. Then last year I was just beginning a playwriting intensive when I found the article, tucked inside the journal inside of my desk and I decided it was time to write their story. A quarter of the way through the process of writing I became stuck and so I started doing some research on the Internet. It’s here where I found Peter Blanchard, executor of their estate, which consists of the preservation of their Island. I sent him an email inquiring about the Kellam’s, thinking he would never return the email, and within an hour he responded with his phone number, asking me to call. And so I did. We spoke for over an hour and he suggested I travel to SW Harbor Maine to visit the Kellam’s journals (volumes) that are housed in the public library. He said to give Candy Emblem the librarian a ring, tell her you know me. So I gave her a call and again, she and I spoke for over an hour. She talked about all the people in the community who would be willing to share their stories about the Kellam’s, and about the volumes of journals written by the couple. She said the same thing Robert said, “You really need to come.” And so, I wrote a RACC grant for research to complete the project. In late March or early April I will be traveling to SW Harbor and meeting with lots of people and traveling to, or rather lobster boating to the island, as well as popping a squat in the library for days to read about the Kellam’s life.
 
3) Talk about your creative process.  (How do you work?  When do you work?  What gets you inspired?)
I like to work late at night or early in the morning. And I like coffee. People’s stories inspire but sometimes it can be a conversation overheard in a coffee shop or the way someone is walking down the street. I am fascinated with finding a way to play the notes between the lines, the musicality in the unspoken…without defining an actors choice.
I am excited about process. And this project specifically is designed to receive feedback throughout the process both with mini-readings throughout, as well as a final reading of the finished play (Sometime end of summer or early fall) as well as actor feedback throughout the rehearsal process.
Anyone can follow the process, especially when I travel to Maine, via this Facebook page. https://www.facebook.com/AnIslandbyJenniGreenMiller?ref=hl
I’ll be updating with pictures and status updates and blog posts.

 

Meet the Artist: Rusty Tennant

Rusty Tennant is Co-Artistic Director and Director of Marketing at Fuse Theatre Ensemble. He’s also the Resident Props Designer for Artists Rep. A Renaissance man with a lovely red beard to boot, Rusty is the director of “(…) an experiment in repetition” and “Sonnetscape,” two of the three shows from Fuse at this year’s Fertile Ground Festival.

(…), an experiment in repetition
Thurs-Sat Jan 31-Feb 2 @7:30PM, Sun Feb 3 @2PM
Sonnetscape
Thurs-Sat Jan 31-Feb 2 @10PM, Sun Feb 3 @7PM
Both shows at the Arena Stage at Theater! Theatre! 3430 SE Belmont St. $10 in advance, $12 at the door

http://fusepdx.moonfruit.com/#/current-season/4568326661

co-Artistic Director of Fuse Theatre Ensemble  & Director of (...), an experiment in repetition

co-Artistic Director of Fuse Theatre Ensemble & Director of (…), an experiment in repetition

Rusty has an MFA in Directing and Performance from the University of New Orleans and is an Advanced Actor/Combatant with the Society of American Fight Directors. A well-traveled director/actor/choreographer/designer-/writer, you can never be sure where you’ll find his fingerprints on a production or his name popping up in a program.

Selected Regional Credits include: Carousel (Gary English, dir. Connecticut Rep), House of Plunder (Ryan Rilette, dir. Southern Rep), Mother Courage (Robert Benedetti, dir. Nevada Conservatory Theatre). Recent Portland productions: Henry IV 1 (Falstaff), A Midsummer Night’s Somnambulism (Bottom), Sonnetscape (Best Choreography and Sound Design, Portland Outdoor Shakespeare Festival)(Director/Performer), Karaoke Night! (the musical), #smarter_than_phones and MySp_ace (Performer/Writer/Director, Fuse); And So It Goes, Seven Guitars, Race, (I am Still) The Duchess of Malfi, Jack Goes Boating, The Lieutenant of Inishmore (Drammy Award, 2010)(Props Design, Artists Rep); Lear’s Follies, King Lear (Set Design, Portland Shakespeare Project); Same Time, Next Year (Director), To Kill a Mockingbird, The Shape of Things, Moonlight for Magnolias (Lighting Design, The Pub); Machinal (Director, Pacific University), Failure to Communicate, Romeo & Juliet and Plumfield, Iraq (Fight/Movement Choreographer, Lewis & Clark College.) For film and television credits, which include: “Grimm” and “The Dukes of Hazzard,” search imdb.com. Rusty’s favorite food group is the chocolate group.

Gerrin Mitchell, Kate Mura, Christina Markowski in (...), an experiment in repetition
Gerrin Mitchell, Kate Mura Christina Markowski in (…), an experiment in repetition

POP QUIZ

1. An Artist in My Field I Have a Giant Artist Crush On Is . . .

Anne Bogart

2. A Work That Has Shaped My Artistic Voice Is . . .

The Viewpoints Book by Anne Bogart and Tina Landau

3. When I’m Not Creating Art You Can Often Find Me/Us . . .

Wait… there's supposed to be a time when we're not creating art?

4. Five Songs On My Writing/Painting/Creating Playlist Are . . .

I can only speak for myself and it's more about artists than songs…

NIN

Saul Williams

Mos Def

La Dispute

The Presets

5. A Portland Artist/Creative/Arts Organization I'd Love To Work With Is . . .

Artists Rep, Tears of Joy, Wonderheads, Hand2Mouth, Post5, PETE

6. I Am Terrified Of . . .

Boredom

7. We are Obsessed With . . .

Daring ourselves

8. The Books Currently On My Nightstand is . .

The Sonnets, No Exit, Peter Pan

9. Three Adjectives That Describe This Work Are . . .

Devised, Different, Daring

10. In the Indie Art-House Biographical Film Of My Life, I Should Be Played By . . .

Uh… I'm an actor. I got this one, thanks ;-)

BEHIND THE SCENES

1) Tell us about your Fertile Ground Festival work.

Fuse is offering a trio of work during Fertile Ground. Our feature production is our newest creation (…). What started out as a simple experiment in repetition has blossomed into an exceptionally poignant and relevant tale about the our need to connect. For the first weekend of the festival, Nikolas Hoback's solo show Virgin in Neverland will perform in our late night slot. Sonnetscape will take that slot in the second weekend.

2) How did this work come about? What inspired it?

I've always had a fascination with Open Scenes in early acting classes and the way they teach us to tell the story with our bodies. I wondered what would happen if we tried to tell a complete story by repeating the same basic script over and over. What we've created lives comfortably between the worlds of realism and absurdism and is shockingly poignant.

3) Talk about your creative process. (How do you work? When do you work? What gets you inspired?)

We gather as an ensemble every Saturday morning in our weekly Fusions. These allow us the freedom to explore the basic Viewpoints laid out by Anne Bogart and Tina Landau while growing together as an ensemble.

 

 
Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.