Fertile Ground Portland

A Festival of New Works Blog

Fertile Ground on KBOO Stage and Studio w Dmae Roberts TUES 11AM JAN 6 January 3, 2015

11AM TUES JAN 6 tune into 90.7 FM when KBOO will feature Fertile Ground on Dmae Roberts‘ Stage and Studio. Tune into 90.7 FM or go to:  http://stagenstudio.com/2015/01/fg-fest-2015/ or http://kboo.fm/content/fertile Twitter @stagenstudio
FG 2015 Coho Snowstorm 2 no text photoFG 15 Roots Rhyme book cover

The line up includes Eric Nordin, Turiya Autry and Miriam Feder, three FG 15 producers and Nicole Lane, Festival Director.

Eric Nordin,  writer, musical director of The Snowstorm, produced by Coho Productions & Many Hats Collaboration, directed and choreographed by Jessica Wallenfels. The Snowstorm is “visceral and sonically vivid new performance piece” spun around a classic romance with magical elements of puppetry and mask.
http://www.manyhatscollaboration.org/the-snowstorm-2/ http://www.cohoproductions.org/onstage/snowstorm

Turiya Autry, who is adapting her book Roots Reality & Rhyme into a multimedia theatrical production, directed by Kevin Jones. The work personalizes the experiences of the marginalized and addresses institutional and interpersonal dynamics of power, privilege and violence while reflecting on beauty, potential and love for self.

Miriam Feder
, of PDX Playwrights  – a volunteer run cooperative of Portland-based playwrights –  that will produce several new works at the Festival, including two new plays by Miriam. http://www.pdxplaywrights.org/wp/fertile-ground-2015/

Image produced by  Brad Bolchunos

Image produced by Brad Bolchunos



Triptych Americana by Karen Alexander-Brown January 28, 2012

What is the state of the “American Dream” today? How do its conditioned expectations help or hinder the average American in today’s society under duress?

Triptych Americana combines three vignettes into one staged reading addressing how the stresses of job loss, homelessness and mercenary war affect Americans on personal, social and political levels.

In the first vignette, job loss and precarious health put Benny and Shiela’s relationship on the brink. In the second vignette, a discarded ticket to the Museum of Modern Art is the impetus for a homeless woman to regain her visibility. In the third vignette, Jason and Dani, two mercenary soldiers, become threats to one another over an incident of “collateral damage.”

How does the American Dream stack up in your life, today? Come and see how these characters cope with the gap between their ideals and their reality.

January 29, 2012
1 pm, $8 at the door, or buy tickets online


Discover Portland’s Powerhouse Animation Scene January 26, 2012

Portland birthed the California Raisins. It schooled the voice of Bugs Bunny and the mind behind The Simpsons. It’s home to “the queen of indie animation.” It’s a rising force producing hit feature films such as Coraline. Discover the power source behind these cultural icons: our home town’s electric, eclectic animation scene.

Portland Animation Now! showcases 22 short films from local independent animators. Including both masters and remarkable amateurs, it’s a lineup of new works and seldom-seen gems you won’t find anywhere else.

The 90-minute variety show crams its fun into 24 frames each second. You’ll see hard-luck dinosaurs, cranky baristas, robot terminators, a sassy drunken detective, flying pirates — and a duck. Also, toe-tapping music, artistry and Big Ideas. Just like live theatre, right?

The NW Animation Festival is honored to bring you Fertile Ground’s first-ever film program. Attending animators will answer questions each night, illuminating this unique art form.

“I like chocolate turtles with pecans. I don’t like babies much—they’re too small and you can’t eat them. Well, I guess some people might eat them… But that’s just plain sick.” —Ruby Rocket, Private Detective.

P.S. Not sure which night to attend? The same program plays both nights — but we recommend Friday. There’s a special SURPRISE at the end of the show.

See Portland Animation Now! at 7pm on Friday or Saturday Jan 27-28. The 5th Avenue Cinema is located at 510 SW Hall. Free parking after 5pm just across the street at PSU Parking Structure 1. $8 general admission, buy now.


The North Plan: Are You on the List? January 25, 2012


The North Plan Trailer from Portland Center Stage on Vimeo.

Portland Center Stage’s world premiere production of The North Plan takes place in the not-so-distant-future. And that’s probably what makes it so extra-creepy and goose bump-inducing. The ripped-from-the-headlines idea that the revered U.S. Constitution could be thrown out so quickly and easily, under our very noses. Is it possible?

Yet, somehow, the show is also “a laugh riot.” Amidst such admittedly serious themes, Playwright Jason Wells manages to keep audiences rolling with laughter throughout the entire piece.

Here’s the plot: After a massive government breakdown, Carlton Berg, a bureaucrat for the State Department, runs off with the new regime’s top secret Enemies List – which contains the names of every American citizen slated to be rounded up by the new regime. Unfortunately for Carlton, the chase has come to an end in a police station in the small Ozark town of Lodus, Missouri. With a pair of DHS agents on the way, Carlton’s only hope is in the people around him: an unsympathetic police chief, an ambivalent administrative assistant, and fellow potty-mouthed prisoner Tanya Shepke.

So could such a breakdown and seemingly seamless regime changeover really happen? The rounding up of millions of  “suspicious” American citizens?

And if it did…would you be on the list?

Jason Wells participated in our annual JAW: A Playwrights Festival in the summer of 2010 with the workshopped reading of his newest play, The North Plan; a few ago, the production opened in its world premiere at PCS. After first hearing the play read more than a year and a half before, it was incredibly exciting to finally get to see the play’s characters, costumes and set fully materialize onstage.

Recently, we asked Jason about his inspiration for writing The North Plan.

“I had been thinking a lot about the hyperbolic political climate of recent years, and wondering how long it’s been since Americans have really had to think about what revolution means, or what tyranny really is. I sometimes hear that a political coup couldn’t happen here, for one reason or another, but I think those who say this are imagining something direct and unequivocal — a cartoon dictator, perhaps, with an evil army. But I think if we had such a coup, it would come clothed in a “re-interpreted” legality, and adorned with talking points. With the help of the media, it would be vague and confusing, at once oversimplified and riddled with impenetrable contradictions, and the great majority of us will be assured that there is nothing we need do but get on with our lives. Such a scenario seems not only possible to me, but plausible. It isn’t hard, unfortunately, to imagine the national tragedy that could ignite it.”

Come see The North Plan at Portland Center Stage, running through February 5. Tickets available here.


Portland Playhouse + Willow Jade: Collaborating with Orcs January 22, 2010

Wish you to march in the Ranks of Wrath?

Portland audiences first met the witchy mysterious Willow Jade during the 2008 JAW Festival’s Made in Oregon series.   Several months ago when I told someone who’d seen that reading that I’d be working on Portland Playhouse‘s production of Hunt Holman‘s Willow Jade, her eyes flashed a toybox-giddy light, she giggled, and, in the voice of someone promised a guilty pleasure, said, “That’s the one with Dungeons & Dragons.”

Hunt Holman’s plays have had productions across the country, but this is his Portland premiere.  So if you don’t know him yet, here’s your chance.  I’ve read a few plays by Hunt over the past several years, and let’s just say I would love the honor of crawling through his brain and examining those creative synapses that have a way of making the innocuous everyday into something ever-so-slightly (or enormously), deliciously, and darkly askew.

theresa – Tell me about your inspirations for Willow Jade.

Hunt Holman – This is a story I’ve been kickin’ around for awhile.  A long time ago I wrote a play about a bunch of kids who played Dungeons & Dragons together.  And then I wrote another play about a guy who ran away with a girl from his soccer team.  And then I wrote a another play about a guy who had to come back home to a small eastern Washington town, and they all kinda needed something else, and it didn’t occur to me until years later to write another play using elements of all of those stories.  I didn’t arrive at that decision consciously but that’s what happened.

th – Do you think this will be the ultimate culmination of all three of the ideas you had in those initial drafts.

Hunt – For now, yeah.

th – What’s the workshop process been like for you?

Hunt – It started at JAW, and then we had another reading in October [2009] and then we had another series of readings in December.  I learned a lot from hearing the cast and from the feedback I got from the dramaturg and the producers and the artistic staff.  I had a lot time and a lot of room to experiment, which was good.  It was good for the play.

th – What discoveries happened?

Hunt – The biggest change was finding the joy in the game for people and how [it served as] a refuge.   And same with the other characters because, you know, the fantasy role-playing in somebody’s life doesn’t have to be limited to if they play Dungeons & Dragons.  There’re other characters who have their own sort of fantasy.  Like Buckminster thinking he can go to Vegas and start a dog-fighting ring.  That evolved out of the workshop, out of having the opportunity to hear [the play] a bunch of times and hearing things that’re maybe not as tight as they could be and finding other stuff to put there and that opens up new possibilities.

th – Did you play D&D when you were a wee one?

Hunt – A little bit.  Really, I’m kind of a D&D poseur.  The way I got into this whole world was through Tolkien – I’ve always loved those books [The Lord of the Rings].  I’ve never seen those movies because they suck rope.  I’ll say it to anybody – I don’t care.  I’ve read the whole trilogy 3 or 4 times.  I’ve read it to my kids.  I like it more each time.  That’s how I got in.

th – What kind of character did you play in D&D?

Hunt – I think I was a Paladin for awhile.  A Paladin is kind of a holy warrior [with high scores in Strength & Consitution, Charisma, and Wisdom].

th – Is there something in the script where you’re like, Yeah, this is fucking good?

HuntThere’s an Orc battle.  I can say with confidence that you will not see another Orc battle.  There’re a lot of character scenes that are gnarly, and they’re funny too.  I’m really happy about that – how the characters evolve.  I still don’t know what the story is, but as a progression of scenes, like watching how people behave with each other and they change, it is really interesting.

th – Do you think that it matters, that you don’t know what the story is?

Hunt – I don’t really care.  It’s probably not okay, but I don’t care.

th – Are you going to working on this after this production?

Hunt – I don’t know.  I probably will continue tweaking it.  It depends where it goes next.

Speaking with director, Lorraine Bahr:

th – I remember one of the first meetings we had you were just so frikkin’ excited.

Lorraine Bahr – Because I love the characters and I love what the play is about, not even the D&D thing, I just think the people in the play are really interesting.   And there’s something really true about the characters.   It’s not just about the poverty level, or maybe it’s a class thing, but there’s a shame-based layer that I think goes with a lower economic level in some ways or it’s a small town thing, and I grew up in a small town.  I know people like these people.  That’s really compelling to me.  Hunt has built that into the characters in a really wonderful way and it doesn’t hit you over the head, and they’re funny.  I think it’s a really strong play.

th – As a director, does directing a world premiere, a work-in-progress differ from something tried and true?

Lorraine –What’s so exciting about the new-play process, for me, is that we work and experience the collaborative nature of theatre.  It’s a collaborative art, we all say that.  The new-play process manifests that fully.  The actors and I (and Hunt) have had several versions of the script; as we embody the production version, as we discover lines from earlier drafts that we find we are missing in the production version, phrases that were loaded with character/action nuggets, we can ask, “Hunt, can we please have that line back?”  He trusts the actors, so he says, “Yes, let me find how to get that back in.”

th – What’s it like having the playwright on board, in the room watching what you’re doing?

Lorraine – At this phase, I’m always a little nervous when [Hunt’s] going to come [to rehearsal], and the actors are a little nervous, but excited as well.  It’s really fun.  Like the first run through that he saw and he laughed, he was laughing and I was like, “Yaaaay!”  And it’s also really great because he’s a resource as we direct the play and shape the play.  He may even do more rewriting after this production, but for us [it’s about] really trying to put on the very best production of the play as it is right now, so that he can see if there’s anything he wants to change.

th – What do you think about this play is going to appeal to Portland audiences?

Lorraine – Oh, gosh.  I think a lot of different kinds of people are going to like the play, for one thing.  I mean the D&D people are going to love it.  The cast range is also kind of remarkable because there’re really young actors and, I’m not going to say really old, but experienced actors.  I think the character range is interesting to people and it’s funny.  And there’s sword fighting.  I think it’s really funny and, hopefully, moving.  I think the play speaks to a certain age range that Doug is.

th – That mid-20s kind of lost dude?

Lorraine – Lost dude who’s not -“I’m not as big a moron as you all I think I am.”  He’s not.  I think it speaks really poignantly to that stage of development in a person.

* * *

Willow Jade plays January 22 – 31, 2010, at Portland Playhouse, 602 NE Prescott.  Buy tickets here.  The beer?  FREE.

Cast:  Patrick Oury, JJ Johnston, Ben Plont, Jazzi Mason, KB Mercer, Jim Davis, Matthew Dieckman, and Aiyana Cunningham.

The official word on the street:

Willow’s the hottest sweet-young-thing in town, making more than carob-chip banana bread with her old man, and there’s a price on her head. Doug and Lance, thirty-something slackers, and Steve, the spandex-clad bicyclist, are planning live-action D&D that may or may not involve chain mail, broadswords, and some amiable back-stabbing over ancient history. Meanwhile, the Orcs have left the Caves of Chaos early this year, going a-viking down the mountains, hungry for slaughter.

Seattle’s for suckers, L.A.’s for the beautiful, but right here, in small-town Washington, is where it gets real. Be warned: The Spell of Flames won’t always save you.  In Willow Jade, Portland playwright and Dungeon Master Hunt Holman takes no prisoners. So strap on your armor and prepare for battle.


This JUST IN. Whitebird’s shows are SOLD OUT January 21, 2010

Filed under: Uncategorized — fertilegroundpdx @ 12:13 am
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Congratulations to Minh Tran, Tere Mathern and Whitebird Dance. We’ve just heard from them that their Fertile Ground performances are SOLD OUT. If you have a Fertile Ground button or a pass, but you haven’t reserved your seats for their performance, it is now TOO LATE to get in to their show.

The good news? There are several other wonderful dance projects participating in the festival. Check them out here, and then get your pass reservations in before they sell out too!!

You can buy your pass for $50 right here.


Willamette Week Makes Festival Recommends

Need help navigating through the “must sees” of Fertile Ground? The <a href="“>Willamette Week weighs in with their opinion on the subject here (hint: Truth and Beauty, pictured above, gets a nod, as do Willow Jade, SexyNurd and the Pulp Diction late night series).

Meanwhile, Alexis Rehrmann from the Portland Monthly blog weighs in with a fun piece about Tandem, the comedy duo performing after SexyNurd at Curious Comedy during the Festival.

Alexis asks the all important question: ““Is sketch comedy worth trucking it up MLK for? ‘Cause I’ve got hulu at home.”

Her answer? “Turns out, yes.”

Read what she has to say about Tandem, and about the festival, here.

Bought your Festival Pass yet? They’re $50 and you can get them RIGHT HERE.