Fertile Ground Portland

A Festival of New Works Blog

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 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.




Meet the Artist: Rich Rubin January 22, 2013

Filed under: the writing process — fertilegroundpdx @ 8:07 am
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A new play By Rich Rubin

Rich Rubin, playwright, "Marilyn/Misfits/Miller," at Fertile Ground 2013

Rich Rubin, playwright, “Marilyn/Misfits/Miller,” at Fertile Ground 2013

Directed by Karen Alexander-Brown

January 26th at 2 pm and 29th and 30th at 7:30 pm

Suggested donation: $12 at the door, cash or check only.

Reservations for pass holders accepted in advance.

Link to buy Fertile Ground passes: https-//www.boxofficetic#48781E

At CoHo Theater, 2257 NW Raleigh, Portland, OR 97210

In Rich Rubin’s new play,”Marilyn/Misfits/Miller,” Arthur Miller desperately tries to salvage his fragile marriage to Marilyn Monroe by writing a serious drama for her, The Misfits. Rubin’s script follows the love story of the Egghead and the Hourglass back to the early 1950s when Miller was still married to his first wife to the slow painful dissolution of his relationship with Marilyn and beyond her death into the early 2000s. Miller and Marilyn are joined by a star studded cast of characters, including Clark Gable, John Houston, Eli Wallach, Montgomery Clift, Thelma Ritter, Saul Bellow, parasitic journalists and a couple of self serving members of HUAC. The script takes us in and out of different time periods starting in 2003, taking us back to the 50s and 60s and back again. Miller is understated but clearly filled with shame, haunted by Marilyn and his failure to rescue her.

Written by Rich Rubin
Directed by Karen Alexander-Brown

Interview with Rich Rubin by Karen Alexander-Brown:

KAB: What compelled you to write the story of Monroe and Miller?

RR: From a dramatist’s point-of-view, it was downright irresistible: Two universally revered, transcendent stars – both titanic figures their respective realms – coming together and then pulling apart? I mean, it’s like a combination of Greek mythology and astrophysics! What’s there not to like?

KAB: Talk about the metaphor of the “misfit mustangs” and how it relates to both the characters in the movie and the characters in the play.

RR: The main characters in the movie were all misfits in one way or another, all somehow out-of-sync with the mid-twentieth century America in which they were living. The wild mustangs, of course, were similarly out-of-sync, at least with the time, if not the place. Like the characters, the mustangs’ longing for independence repeatedly clashed with the reality of their situation, and the results were often not very pretty. Still – and I think this was Miller’s main point – there was something undeniably noble in the clash itself, the struggle to exert one’s inner nature despite the odds.

As to the characters in the play, that’s a tougher call. Based on what I’ve read, I would say that Monroe, Huston and Clift were all “misfits” of a sort, frequently in conflict with their studios and unwilling to play the game the way others in Hollywood wanted it played. As a playwright much more comfortable with words than visual images, Miller was clearly a misfit on a movie set, but I’m less convinced that he was a misfit in any meaningful sense in the world at large. While his politics may have been outside the mainstream of middle America, they were probably not substantially different from many other intellectuals and writers of the day. If anything, what set him apart was the courage of his convictions.

KAB: Did you draw upon personal experience in marriage when writing the dialogue?

RR: Wow, what a loaded question! I was going to say “yes,” but I checked with my wife first and she said I should answer “no.” And for those of you who are interested, that right there is the secret to a very long and happy marriage!

KAB: What was your comfort level in writing dialogue for a female character, and in particular, for the complicated Marilyn Monroe?

RR: The main character in one of my first plays was a woman in her late eighties, so I actually enjoy the challenge. In addition, since half of the best actors in the world are women, why wouldn’t I want to write great roles for them? With regard to Marilyn, I fully agree; she is, indeed, an incredibly complex character. Luckily for me, I had a lot to work with: Not only has much been written about Miller and Monroe, but both of them also wrote (or spoke at length to others) about their relationship.


Although Marilyn undoubtedly treated Arthur very poorly on The Misfits set – several eyewitnesses described her behavior as “despicable – at the end of the day I felt enormous respect and admiration for her. Despite a really crummy early life and all the tinsel-land adulation, she was constantly working to hone her craft. She was a one-of-a-kind actress and comedienne, and her struggle for acceptance on her own terms is something I think all of us can relate to on some level.

KAB: Why do you think people should come to see this show?

RR: Ah, at last an easy question! Because it’s a fun play I think folks will really enjoy!


Meet the Artist: Gary Corbin


Gary Corbin, playwright, author of  Lying in Judgement & The Exes

Gary Corbin, playwright, author of Lying in Judgement & The Exes

Two new plays, two genres, one prolific playwright:

“Lying in Judgment,” A courtroom thriller

“The Exes,” a romantic comedy united by common themes of (in)fidelity, trust, and the search for a complex truth.

Part of “PDX Playwrights Presents” at Hipbone Studio

Dates & Times: 1/27/13, 3-5 PM

Tickets: $10 door or at http://bit.ly/PDXPFG13

Contact: gary@garycorbinwriting.com

Gary Corbin, originally from a small town outside of Springfield, MA, may be the Grandpa Moses of Fertile Ground, having begun his stage work late in life. Okay, he was in his forties, after his divorce. But as far as mid-life crises go, theater seemed cheaper (at the time) than a Camaro.

Gary studied improv and sketch with ComedySportz, the Brody Theater and Curious Comedy, and playwriting with Matt Zrebski and Francesca Sanders. His first Fertile Ground experience was the self-produced “Happy Anniversary,” a Hothouse production at the Armory mezzanine in 2010. In attendance for that play was Tony Broom, who staged “Happy Anniversary” when he later opened Serendipity Players in Vancouver. Later in 2010, Gary’s first fully staged production, “PS, I Love Your Daughter,” opened CoHo Theater’s “Endless Summer” event and was later produced by North End Players in Portland. In all, a dozen productions of Gary’s plays have appeared in the Portland area in the last three years, including at Magenta Theater, Ft Vancouver National Trust and Hipbone Studios.

Gary’s day job title is Royal Storyteller at Portland Walking Tours (really). He also appears as Eddie Kurnitz in Neil Simon’s “Lost in Yonkers” opening February 21 at North End Players.


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

Sam Shepard. I love how much emotion he wrings out of such spare scripts. I also love how he portrays simple but real characters in complex ways.

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

Neil Simon. I know he’s kind of out of favor among contemporary playwrights but I love his wit, and again, his very real, likable but flawed characters. The dialog always makes sense, even when the characters don’t.

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

At the Oregon coast with the love of my life, Renee, and our two rascal hounds.

4. Five Songs On My Writing Playlist Are . . .

I actually prefer quiet when I write. But stuff that inspires me includes:

“In Your Eyes,” Peter Gabriel

“Somebody that I used to know,” Gotye

“Silver Lining,” David Gray OR Bonnie Raitt

“Jungleland,” Springsteen

Anything and everything by The Beatles

5. A Portland Artist or Company I’d Love To Work With Is . . .

Theater Theater! Love that they’re so committed to producing original work and every interaction with the people there has been terrific.

6. I Am Terrified Of . . .

How I drive.

7. I Am Obsessed With . . .

Politics. I am also disgusted by it. But it’s like those bad horror movies – I can’t tear myself away. It’s why I have a useless Poli Sci PhD.

8. The Book Currently On My Nightstand Is . . .

The Forgotten Garden by Kate Morton. Thank God you didn’t ask me this question last week.

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

Lying in Judgment: Psychological, Twisted, Intense

The Exes: Funny, Emotional, Quirky

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

A younger Stanley Tucci.


1) Tell us about your Fertile Ground Festival work.

Lying in Judgment poses the question, What would happen if a person served on the jury of a trial for the murder that person committed? Or, at least, believed they did.

Such the fate besets Peter Robertson. As the play opens, the jury begins deliberations on the evidence presented in court. He and five other jurors struggle to reach consensus, but their perspectives on what they heard are as different as their personalities. Alfred, an unemployed recent college grad, spent most of the trial hitting on Christine, a sassy juror who fixates on the defendant’s history of stalking the victim’s girlfriend. Her unabashed romantic interest in Peter leads to heightened conflict with Alfred even as they ally to push for conviction. Under intense stress, Peter’s struggle to separate what he experienced and what was presented in court causes him to reveal things that only the killer should know. When Christine catches on, Peter’s world unravels.

The Exes Promo-med

The Exes: Two divorced couples crisscross their romantic paths and hook up with each others’ exes without realizing it until it’s too late and wedding bells start to chime.

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

Lying in Judgment: Back in the late 1980’s, as a friend told me about his experience on jury duty, it struck me that the accused in that case could have been anybody – just as the jurors, his peers, could be anybody. What if one of those jurors, randomly drawn from the pool of local citizens, were actually guilty of a similar crime – but never convicted? This quickly morphed into: what if it was the *same* crime? What if it was murder? He’d have to be completely disconnected from the victim, which meant he killed a perfect stranger – and why would he do that? And if so, what would make us want to root for him?

The Exes: Specifically? I have no idea. But in general, I am always intrigued by awkward relationship circumstances. (“PS, I Love Your Daughter” has similarly vague origins.) Probably I heard or read about some spouse-swapping situation and wondered what it would be like if it WASN’T creepy. Seemed like comedy gold to me.

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

I usually write in the morning, after breakfast when I have the house to myself, lots of coffee and sleepy dogs. I write by hand, using pen and paper, for all first drafts, then later transcribe on the laptop once the story is well underway. I usually develop a scene-by-scene outline and character profiles (even complete biographies) to start the story, and I write a lot of scenes that I never use – or even intend to use – to help me figure out a character’s back-story. I do separate edit passes for flow and structure, plot, character voice/consistency, and dialog fine-tuning before I show it to anyone. I like to have it table-read next, and for the past year and a half I’ve relied on PDX Playwrights for that – an amazing organization of amazing, creative, hard-working people. Then I revise a few more times to incorporate their feedback. Then I try to do a staged reading, like Fertile Ground, and revise it again. Sometimes I change them even after they’ve gone into production. Only once have I changed a play DURING a run. I was bad, I know. But it made the play better.