Fertile Ground Portland

A Festival of New Works Blog

Playing with Subversion January 11, 2012

post by Fertile Ground artist KAREN ALEXANDER-BROWN


My plays are conceived with strong visual and auditory elements in mind.  The non-verbal elements (music, sound, movement, photos, costumes, and lighting) represent essential experience beyond what is spoken.  However, this makes staged readings of the plays a challenge!

With the exception of my first short play, In Vino Veritas, a comic fantasy about a woman’s imagined perfect mate, each of the plays I have presented at Fertile Ground has continued to grow in one form or another.  Consumed, a monologue that takes place in the last hours of my grandmother’s life, became a short story that won notable mention at the 2010 Oregon Writer’s Colony Awards.  Last year’s piece, Bridgetown, A Musical, which is about a love triangle and making it (or not) in the “city of bridges,” is well on its way to becoming a novel.

I am hoping that Triptych Americana, my fourth contribution to the Fertile Ground Festival in as many years, eventually will grow beyond its staged reading into a production— or some other creative form— with all its visual elements fully realized.

For now, however, I am relying heavily on the audience’s imagination, along with a few visual, musical and choreographed elements, designed in collaboration with my sound and lighting designer, Gordon Romei.  The cast (Pat Janowski, Jon Farley, Angela Freeman, Jack Wells and Tom Stutzman) is terrific!

Thematically, my pieces involve familiar situations experienced from an unexpected perspective, usually involving female empowerment or the point of view of someone marginalized by society.  This subversive perspective in each play allows for new insights and unexpected outcomes.

Triptych Americana, a trio of short plays that will be presented as a staged reading on January 29th at 1:00 pm at Hipbone Studio, focuses on contemporary issues in America and how they affect the characters on a personal, social or political level.

And, of course, there will be music, sound, movement and photography, enhanced by your imagination.

Come give us your feedback and help Triptych Americana evolve.  Tickets are $8.00 (cash only) at the door, and the price includes a second feature, Skin Garden, by Jeremy Benjamin, that will follow.  Hipbone is located at ­­­­­­­­1847 E. BURNSIDE, #104,  PORTLAND, OR 97214.