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.”


Willamette Week Shares Impressions of Festival Day One January 24, 2010

Check out what the Willamette Week had to say about the first three shows they’ve seen at the festival so far.

Read their reviews.


A Manifesto Towards Everyday Dance November 17, 2009

One of the unexpected delights of the 2010 Festival as it shapes up is the discovery that many of this year’s participants are creating work at the intersection of dance and theater… including Whitebird’s world premiere Minh Tran/Tere Mathern piece, Artists Rep’s Hillsboro Story, Many Hats’ Truth and Beauty, and Shaking-the-Tree’s Memory Water (check out one of their amazing images of Chisao Hata below).

Our newest Festival participant, Polaris Dance, is cooking up an event that will blend visual art, world premiere dance and live music into a cocktail that will invite festival-goers to reconsider their relationship to dance…is it something that THEY do? Or something that I do? Is it something to witness or to experience? Or both?

With that in mind, Bernadette Doolan from Polaris has shared with me an extraordinary new manifesto, drawn from her own experience of her irish heritage- towards dance, not as a rarified twice yearly excursion into the exotics of the human body, but as an everyday essential human experience. Check it out:

When I was younger (in Ireland) I asked my parents what they did for fun when they were my age. Their answer surprised me. Not only because I was a typical narcissistic 19-year–old and couldn’t believe my parents had a life before I came along, but because the concept was a little alien in today’s society….
Their tales told of spending every weekend and sometimes mid-week travelling to dances…

When I say travelling I mean a time in Ireland when teenagers had no cars! (America was sooo advanced in the 50s/60s!).

They remembered a wondrous night when they cycled 60 miles (and back!) for a dance that was the 1950’s equivalent of uber-hot!
Though I was already slack-jawed, they proceeded to tell me of all their escapades to do with dance. (A lot!). How everyone dreaded being a wallflower (had to be explained to me first…) and how if someone was a good dancer they never had a problem finding dates, even if they had been hit with a giant ugly stick!

How a new outfit was dreamed of, begged for, borrowed and sometimes stolen so you could complete your look for that important dance. How everyone thought, dreamed, and felt dance all day, every day. It was your reason for living; it was intrinsically what made everyone tick.

How times have changed. Where once dance was part of everyone’s daily life, and a life without seemed bereft, now we have Dance relegated to a part of life that only a few get to experience. To dance is to be human. Anthropologists would agree! Our ancestors were differentiated from animals because we wanted to dance! No reason to do it to get food, but we couldn’t help gathering around the family fire-pit and cutting a move for all to share. We all hear a song on the radio and can’t prevent our hips from moving, or our heads from bopping, or both! Let’s face it; if no one is looking, our whole body gets involved! Sadly most of us now just nod at each other in seedy nightclubs or shake our bon bons at a family wedding.
We watch celebrity dancing, MTV videos and admire choreographers on talent shows on T.V., but never think to attend a local dance event or class. We’re happy to run on a dreary conveyer belt for an hour but would never think to put on our favorite music and dance off the calories.

Something else we have forgotten is that it is incredibly hard to be depressed when you dance, yet we are constantly searching for other ways to make us happy. What has happened to our humanity that we have to tamp down something that is so natural, and an integral part of our make-up?

Isn’t it time that dance stopped being relegated to the dusty corners of our community and brought forth into the spotlight it deserves? Even if our shyness wins out, can’t we still support those who have stepped up and made dance a priority in their lives, and whose efforts are ensuring the survival of dance?

We will always be moved by performance in some fashion. If it is not in our body, it can be in our experiences and memories. Such as the time when after our conversation, my Father swept me up in his arms and truly showed me what it was like to be human and fly on the arms of a good dancer.

Please support the Dance companies exploring new work with amazing music and dancers at the many events lined up for Fertile Ground fest 2010, and you will surely re-discover a little more of your humanity.

Bernadette Doolan-
Polaris Dance Theatre
“Through dance, we awaken the heart and enhance our humanity”

What is your experience of everyday dance- has there been a moment in your life where dancing lifted you up out of the every day? Changed your world? Reframed your relationship to it? Do tell.

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