Fertile Ground Portland

A Festival of New Works Blog

Meet the Artists: Brian Kettler and Matt Haynes January 26, 2013

Pulp Stage is a small but growing theater company that produces PULP DICTION a series of staged readings of new works every year at Fertile Ground. PULP DICTION has premiered works by local writers as well as writers from Seattle, LA, New York, New Jersey, Georgia, and Canada. PULP DICTION directors have included Brian Allard, Paul Angelo, Jason Ferte, Megan Murphy Ruckman and Micki Selvitella.
All PULP Stage productions at The Brody Theater 16 NW Broadway @ Burnside
Tickets: $15 or $10 & chocolate kisses with a completed survey
“Love/Hate Potion Number 9” Wednesday Jan 30 7:00PM
“PERSONAL” Thursday Jan 31 7:00PM
“Pulp Sampler” Saturday Feb 2 10:30PM (several short plays, staged readings)

Matt Haynes photo by Deneb Catalan
Matt Haynes, artistic director of Pulp Stage, directed “PERSONAL,” a new play by Brian Kettler that is premiering at this year’s Festival.
The founder of the Pulp Stage and the producer for PULP DICTION IV, Matt has previously directed “Pulp Stagings” of Frederika by Tina Connolly, The Flood by Vincent Kovar and Bitch by Sean Pomposello. Matt received his training at Skidmore College (Summa Cum Laude, BS in Theatre) and the Dell’Arte International School of Physical Theatre (Professional Training Program ’03). He has acted for Profile Theatre, The Brooklyn Bay, Reader’s Theatre Rep, Anonymous Theatre, Northwest Classical Theatre Co, OPS Fest and has both acted and taught for Northwest Children’s Theatre and Oregon Children’s Theatre. He is a proud member of the Portland Area Theatre Alliance.

Brian pic 2
Brian Kettler, is a graduate of Kenyon College and the National Theater Institute. His full-length plays include In School Suspension (JAW Made in Oregon: 2009) and Personal (JAW Made in Oregon: 2011). Last summer, his short play, Chained, was featured in the Just Add Water Made in Oregon 5-8 Minute Play Festival at Portland Center Stage. He is the recipient of a 2012 Oregon Literary Arts Fellowship in Drama. Brian is currently pursuing his M.F.A. in Playwriting at the University of Texas-Austin.


1. Artists in My Field I Have a Giant Artist Crush On are . . .

Brian: I have a big crush on The Aliens by Annie Baker. Peter Sinn-Nachtrieb, Fin Kennedy, Greg Moss, Detroit by Lisa D’Amour. The Shipment by Young Jean Lee. Stone Cold Dead Serious by Adam Rapp.

Matt: I’m frequently in awe of Portland Playhouse. They came to town, they saw, they started. They rose incredibly fast and seem to just keep rising while also stabilizing and enriching their output. And from my interactions with them and their reputation they’re extremely nice people. I’m also going to Out myself as having taken a shine to Action/Adventure theatre, not only because their name seems in tune with my company mission (to provide live theatre for fans of action, fantasy and suspense) but because their single shows and serial shows seem to have a wonderful combination of “Hell, yes, theatre is fun!” and the craft to keep it on its legs.

Fertile Ground Pulp Diction PERSONAL Racheal Erickson and Caitlin Nolan photo by David Kinder
Rachael Joy Erickson and Caitlin Nolan in a new play “PERSONAL” by Brian Kettler, produced by PULP Stage, directed by Matt Haynes, photo by David Kinder

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

Matt: King Kong. Not the “Poor Sweet Ape” remakes of the 70’s and 00’s but the poetic, strange, original one. I think it’s the E=MC Squared of popular modern entertainment. Here you have a movie whose meaning can still spark fierce serious debate/speculation among seasoned film critics… and yet aesthetically, it’s a one of the biggest, simplest, most appealing films of the 20th century. Perfect synthesis of depth and titillation (which is the quest of The Pulp Stage).

Brian: The Pillowman by Martin McDonagh is the play I wish I could write. I aspire to put that much humor, terror, sickness, lightness, and darkness into a play.

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

Brian: When I’m not creating art you can find me playing music, drinking coffee, drinking beer, playing darts, or reading.

Matt: Our production assistant and actor Kaia Maarja Hillier is a student at PSU and a core member of the Original Practice Shakespeare Festival. Director, actor and media specialist Joel Patrick Durham is everywhere right now. At the time of this writing, he’s collaborating also with CoHo and Matt Zrebski to name a couple of projects. Our frequent playwright and reading committee member, Tina Connolly, has just published a magical steampunk revision of Jane Eyre, IRONSKIN. Our treasurer, Sue Ellen Christensen was just in the Portland Revels and is in Brazil on her latest globe trot. For me, I work part time as an administrative assistant and otherwise my 6’9″ frame can be easily spotted going to the theatre, cafes, rehearsals spaces and my study, seeing where I can take The Pulp Stage.

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

From the Pulp Sampler, “Best Friends Forever” by Sydney Somerfield
in rehearsal with Jessi Walters, Kaia Hillier, Juliana Wheeler and [director] Joel Patrick Durham

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

Matt: Well, here’s 5 that you might recognize in the show I’m directing, PERSONAL (Thurs Jan 31 at 7pm at the Brody Theater):
-The Ground Beneath Her Feet- U2
-Shadow Of A Doubt- Sonic Youth
-Fear (remix)- Sarah McLachlan
-Low Light- Peter Gabriel
-Circuital- My Morning Jacket

Brian: Hollywood Forever Cemetery Sings by Father John Misty. Gone Hollywood by Supertramp. Pursuit of Happiness by Kid Kudi. Request Denied by El-P. Underwear by Pulp.

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

Brian: Action/Adventure is a group I’d like to work with. Loved Fall of the House.
Matt: The film buffs and the comics fans. I bet there’s something we could offer them and I’d like to start figuring out what and how…

6. I Am Terrified Of . .

Brian: I am terrified of clowns. Right now, I’m writing a short play about it.
Matt: The opposite ends of the creative spectrum: Disgraceful mediocrity or destructive leaps.

7. I Am Obsessed With . . .

Brian: I am obsessed with two television shows. Mr. Show, which used to be on HBO and Freaks and Geeks.

Matt: a) The craft of titillation
b) The quality of depth or “artistic mystery.”
c) The possibilities, within the live theatre forum, for attracting non-theatre audiences who love our common genre.
d) The balance of quality and commerce within raising a theatre company.

8. The Books Currently On Our Nightstands are . .
Matt: I grabbed a memoir by Roger Ebert and am snacking on that. The title is Life Itself and I immediately thought “given his occupation, that’s gotta be slim pickins.” And the joy of reading it is seeing where and how I was wrong.

Brian: Sweet Tooth by Ian McEwan, This is How you Lose Her by Junot Diaz, and Something Wicked This Way Comes by Ray Bradbury

9. Three Adjectives That Describe Pulp Stage’s Work Are . . .

1) Fun
2) Surprising
3) Inviting

Three Adjectives That Describe This Work [“Personal]:
strange, funny, scary

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

Matt: Kermit the Frog.
Brian: I’ll be played by Jessica Chastain. She’s in everything, right?

1) Tell us about your Fertile Ground Festival work.

Brian: This is a workshop production of Personal, a play I wrote a few years ago. Personal was in JAW 2011 at Portland Center Stage, as part of the Made in Oregon Series. It is a satire/comedy/horror story about the mysterious disappearance of one of the world’s biggest celebrities.
This play was inspired by a short story called The Girl Who was Plugged In, which was written by James Tiptree Jr. (Pseudonym for Alice Sheldon). Originally, I set out to write a play about post-apocalyptic travel agents, but the story morphed into something else completely. Writing this play was a long, sometimes painful process so I am happy to see it having a life, post-JAW.
Right now I am in Grad School for Playwriting, so I have a pretty good writing routine. I try to write every day, and usually am one of those assholes with their laptops in the coffee shop. I am inspired by the other writers in my program and I’m working on a lot of collaborative projects right now, which is exciting. I’m inspired by books, movies, music, weird stories, jokes, images, television shows, and sometimes even plays 

“Love/Hate Potion Number 9,” a new play by Sonya Sobieski and produced by Pulp Stage – from left to right, Juliana Wheeler, Kristen Martz, Kaia Hillier, Shawna Nordman, Jonathan Owicki (director), Cedar Braasch, Tom Young, James Luster

2) How did Pulp Diction and the shows it’s produced at this year’s Festival come about? What inspired them?

Matt: My older brother is a screenwriter. He got one film made (really quite a feat) but it went right to DVD. It’s a pulpy thriller called THE PLEASURE DRIVERS. I was sharing it with my wife one night and found myself tearing up because the conclusion was both so badass and thoughtful. I said to my wife “we need a forum where this stuff can get out into the world more easily.”
3) Talk about your creative process. (How do you work? When do you work? What gets you inspired?)
Right now, PULP DICTION (our yearly reading series), results from a lot of email reading and writing (getting submissions, getting organized with collaborators, getting word out) and some extremely fun meetings, readings and rehearsals. I get inspired just about every time I read something from our submitters that I resonate with and when I see what our actors and directors come up with time after time. Our mission: to fuse “Fine Art” with “Raw Entertainment” by introducing greater amounts of quality Pulp into live theatre.


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