Fertile Ground Portland

A Festival of New Works Blog

Meet the Artist: Sydney Somerfield February 5, 2013

 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.


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 


7. I Am Obsessed With . . .


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


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.


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


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

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!


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.



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.

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!


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!


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!


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’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.


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.

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.

1) Tell us about your Fertile Ground Festival work. 

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
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

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


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…


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 . . .


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 😉


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.


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.


MEET THE ARTIST: Andrew Shanks

Doing the Cockroach

Written by Andrew Shanks


Part of Ripen: A Feast of New Works at Milepost 5
Dates & Times: 1/28/13 @ 5pm, 1/30/13 @7pm. 2/1/13 @ 5pm
Tickets: $5 door
Contact: andrewshanks7@gmail.com


1. An Artist in My Field I Have a Giant Artist Crush On Is . . .
Rajiv Joseph. Utterly fascinating writer out of New York City. Bengal Tiger at the Baghdad Zoo is a devastatingly beautiful play about the Iraq War.  Check out our theatre group’s upcoming production of his play Gruesome Playground Injuries in late April.

2.  A Work That Has Shaped My Artistic Voice Is . . .
Maurice Sendak’s Where the Wild Things Are. Whimsical yet brutally honest. I’m organizing a wild rumpus as I type this.

3. When I’m Not Creating Art You Can Often Find Me . . .
Selling computers and other adult toys, managing our theatre group, World @ Large Theatre, and butchering The Boss during karaoke nights at The Boiler Room.

4. Five Songs On My Writing Playlist Are . . . 
“Doing the Cockroach” by Modest Mouse
“Hippopotamus” by SHK THT (http://5hk7h7.bandcamp.com/)
“Sabye (My Saba)” by Mulatu Astaqe
“Play with Fire” by The Rolling Stones
“Wake”  by The Antlers

5. A Portland Artist or Company I’d Love To Work With Is . . . 
CoHo Theatre/Productions. My favorite black box theatre in town. Quality productions and engaging season selections.

6. I Am Terrified Of . . .
Sharks, earthquakes, spider women.

7. I Am Obsessed With . . . 
Mythology. Egyptian, Greek, Lovecraft. It’s all so very fascinating and a major artery of inspiration.

8. The Book Currently On My Nightstand Is . . . 
Daniel Harms – The Cthulhu Mythos Encyclopedia

9. Three Adjectives That Describe This Work Are . . . 
Disorienting, Fluid, Absurd.

10. In the Indie Art-House Bio Film Of My Life, I Should Be Played By . . . 
Egotistical Choice: Joseph Gordon-Levitt
Realistic Choice: Toby Jones.


1) Tell us about your Fertile Ground Festival work. 
No one wants a second chance more than Edmund Carthy. Reincarnated as a cockroach, Edmund seeks out a new life by entering the Office of Religious Relations, the DMV of the afterlife. With the help of his case worker, Sister Ray, Edmund traverses the many levels, policies and iterations of the afterlife in an absurdist farce of existential proportions. But with his checkered past, Edmund is gonna have to go through the karmic wringer to get what he truly desires: an unburdened life.

2) How did this work come about?  What inspired it?
In my sophomore year, I dove into writing. It became clear to me that the open stage, more than any other medium, was a sandbox.  You can literally do anything. We have the suspension of disbelief on our side. The genesis of this project came from that idea. I became obsessed with this image of a suited man with antennae. A cockroach in the guise of a man. A creature who got the raw end of the deal in life. What are the lengths such a creature would go to to change that? With this objective came the formation of the Afterlife in the guise of a glorified DMV. Filtering ideas like the afterlife or reincarnation through a level of banality and bureaucracy allowed me to attach familiarity to otherwise abstract concepts. The world developed from there.

The key to understanding this world is the idea that we, all of us, have existed longer than we realize. That our stories have played out not over a singular lifetime, but across centuries. That our choices carry over from lifetime to lifetime, regardless of religious or social affiliation. Characters pass through many centuries, from Egyptian myths to the Salem witch trials. This play is meant to be a disorientating journey into the redemption of an irredeemable being.

3) Talk about your creative process.  (How do you work?  When do you work?  What gets you inspired?)
Music. Music, music, music. It informs every piece of my creative process. The overall tone of a scene is usually scored by countless playlists I’ve assembled over the course of the project. When stuck on a particular section of script, I try and find a song that get me over the hurdle, so to speak. It’s great to have this audio road map, full of highs and lows, guiding you. It’s never tied to one genre or artist. It’s constantly surprising. That’s what I hope this play does for you. Surprise you.


Meet the Artists: SubRosa Dance Collective January 24, 2013


SubRosa Dance Collective

LevitationThe SubRosa Dance Collective is comprised of six lovely dancers: Cerrin Lathrop, Lena Traenkenschuh, Carlyn Hudson, Jessica Evans, Zahra Banzi and Kailee McMurran. They formed their company in 2011 and came together under what they like to call “the nurturing, fervent, and palpable Portland energy that spurs on expression and entertainment through art and performance.” They all have earned combined degrees in the Arts from SUNY Purchase College, Arizona State University, Western Oregon University, and Western Washington University.


“Living the Room” February 2 at 7:00pm Polaris Dance Theatre 1501 SW Taylor St Portland

In their latest work, “Living the Room,” The SubRosa Dance Collective explores the emotional and physical webs woven throughout the rooms we live in. The inanimate inhabitants within these spaces – the chairs we rest and cry in the arms of, the linens we make love between, the surfaces we make messes of and sluff off layers of ourselves in and onto – have inspired SubRosa to discuss these ubiquitous relationships with these objects in the somatic rhetoric that is so unique to our dance‐voice. The whole show is an hour and half-ish but SubRosa is sharing it with two other dance groups. SubRosa is the second company scheduled to perform: 30 minutes of non-stop dancing. The entire space with be transformed into a room with furniture.