Two New Play Commissions Announced at Artists Rep
Artists Repertory Theatre has extended two play commissions, as part of the company's ambitious new play development program Table|Room|Stage (T|R|S). These commissions go to Pulitzer Prize-nominated, African American writer and performer Dael Orlandersmith and rising South Korean playwright Hansol Jung. Additionally, the company has identified projects by Anthony Hudson and Susannah Mars to receive dramaturgical and production support.
The T|R|S program was established in 2014 by a $125,000 Oregon Community Foundation "Creative Heights" grant to create a robust new play program that offers development opportunities for local and national playwrights, and ensures that underrepresented voices are heard on stage. Artists Rep is proud to work with this diverse group of playwrights and offer them the support they need to develop the stories they are compelled to tell. The works created by these writers through T|R|S will establish Artists Rep and Portland as an engine for new play development and will enrich the national new play landscape.
About Table|Room|Stage Playwright Commissions
Artists Rep's T|R|S program has commissioned seven plays to writers of color and women with one play that will be written for young adults and one Oregon Play Prize winner. With the T|R|S program, Artists Rep commits to offering women, transgender and non-binary writers, writers of color and writers of work for young audiences a place to start a new play, to finish one already begun or to revisit one that hasn't yet been fully realized. Artists Rep has now extended seven play commissions to: Linda Alper, Yussef El Guindi, Larissa Fasthorse, Hansol Jung, Dael Orlandersmith, Steve Rathje and Andrea Stolowitz. To learn more about the all projects and the playwrights visit here.
"Dael and Hansol are extraordinary writers, and we are thrilled to support their work," said Luan Schooler, Director of New Play Development and Dramaturgy. "Like our other writers, they bring deeply compassionate and probing intelligence to their plays, along with vibrant language and boldly theatrical imagination. They are fierce and forthright in their perspectives, and we are eager to take the journey into the unique worlds of their imaginations."
Orlandersmith was a Pulitzer Prize finalist and Drama Desk Award nominee for Outstanding Play and Outstanding Actress in a Play for Yellowman in 2002. The Gimmick, commissioned by McCarter Theatre, premiered in their Second Stage OnStage series in 1998 and went on to great acclaim at Long Wharf Theatre and New York Theatre Workshop; Orlandersmith won the Susan Smith Blackburn Prize for The Gimmick in 1999. Her play Monster premiered at New York Theatre Workshop in November 1996. Orlandersmith has toured extensively with the Nuyorican Poets Café (Real Live Poetry) throughout the United States, Europe and Australia. Orlandersmith first performed Stoop Stories in 2008 at The Public Theater's Under the Radar Festival and Apollo Theater's Salon Series; Washington, DC's Studio Theatre produced its world premiere in 2009. Black n' Blue Boys/Broken Men was developed as a co-commission between the Goodman and Berkeley Repertory Theatre, where it was staged in May 2012. Her play Horsedreams was developed at New Dramatists and workshopped at New York Stage and Film Company in 2008, and was performed at Rattlestick Playwrights Theater in 2011. Bones was commissioned by the Mark Taper Forum where it premiered in 2010. Orlandersmith premiered The Blue Album, in collaboration with David Cale, at Long Wharf Theatre in 2007. Yellowman was commissioned by and premiered at McCarter Theatre in a co-production with The Wilma Theater and Long Wharf Theatre. Yellowman and a collection of her earlier works have been published by Vintage Books and Dramatists Play Service. Orlandersmith attended Sundance Institute Theatre Lab for four summers and is the recipient of a New York Foundation for the Arts Grant, The Helen Merrill Award for Emerging Playwrights, a Guggenheim and the 2005 PEN/Laura Pels Foundation Award for a playwright in mid-career. She is the recipient of a Lucille Lortel Foundation Playwrights Fellowship and an Obie Award for Beauty's Daughter. Orlandersmith's new play, Forever, is currently a solo play which was commissioned and performed at the Mark Taper Forum/Kirk Douglas Theatre Fall of 2014, the Long Wharf Theatre Winter 2014/15, and New York Theatre Workshop. Orlandersmith performed her solo play Until the Flood about the Michael Brown shooting at the St. Louis Repertory Theatre in 2016.
Project Description: Shades Between Two Worlds
Shades Between Two Worlds will be a play with movement by Dael Orlandersmith. Originally drawn to the subject of death by a collection of historical suicide notes, Orlandersmith became keenly interested in what would lead a person to take their own life and what they really hoped to accomplish. From there, the idea bloomed into a broader examination of death itself: What is this dark frontier that we all cross? What do we/should we/can we do when we face it? Is Death simply the absence of life itself? If so, then what of joyless, stultifying, tedious lives - without satisfYing Lives are we just awaiting Death?
A Pulitzer Prize-nominated writer, Orlandersmith is known for her fierce, poetic and deeply intelligent approach to difficult topics. Shades Between Two Worlds will be developed at Artists Rep during the 2017/18 season.
VIDEO LINK: Playwright project interview.
INFO LINK: Learn more.
Jung is a playwright and director from South Korea. In addition to Wolf Play, her work includes Cardboard Piano (Humana Festival at Actors Theater of Louisville), Among the Dead (Ma-Yi Theatre Company), No More Sad Things (co-world premiere at Sideshow Theatre, and Boise Contemporary Theatre) and Wild Goose Dreams (presented in the Public Studio at NYC's Public Theater, and premiering at La Jolla Playhouse in 2017). She has received commissions from Artists Repertory Theatre, Playwrights Horizons, Seattle Repertory Theatre, the Virginia B. Toulmin Foundation grant with Ma-Yi Theatre and a translation of Romeo and Juliet for Play On! at Oregon Shakespeare Festival. Her work has been developed at the Royal Court, New York Theatre Workshop, Berkeley Repertory's Ground Floor, Sundance Theatre Lab, O'Neill Theater Center's New Play Conference, Lark Play Development Center, Salt Lake Acting Company, Boston Court Theatre, Bushwick Starr, Ma-Yi Theater Company, Asia Society New York and Seven Devils Playwright Conference. Jung is the recipient of the Page 73 Playwright Fellowship, Rita Goldberg Playwrights' Workshop Fellowship at the Lark, 2050 Fellowship at New York Theater Workshop, MacDowell Colony Artist Residency and International Playwrights Residency at Royal Court. She has translated over 30 English musicals into Korean, including Evita, Dracula, Spamalot and The 25thAnnual Putnam County Spelling Bee, while working on several award-winning musical theatre productions as director, lyricist and translator in Seoul, South Korea. Jung holds a Playwriting MFA from Yale School of Drama, and is a proud member of the Ma-Yi Theatre Writers Lab.
Project Description: Wolf Play
Hansol Jung will be At the Table in 2017/2018 to develop Wolf Play. Jung describes the project like this:
A Korean boy is ushered into a new house by his adopted American father. This new house belongs to an American boxer and her wife. American father un-adopts boy by a single signature on a piece of paper. But just before he leaves the new house, ex-father finds out that the new couple, to whom he has "re-homed" his ex-son to, is a lesbian couple. American ex-father spends the rest of the play trying to get the boy back. In his corner is Ryan, the boxer's coach, and wife's brother. Ryan has insecurities about being the protector, the alpha male, and he doesn't like the new Korean boy who is a bit weird.
The boy is actually not a real boy. He is a puppet. The puppeteer is the Emcee of the evening, and spinner of the night's tale: a lone wolf who slips in and out of the story as is needed.
Yes, the puppeteer is a wolf. At least he believes that he is. Because wolves are a god figure in many Eastern myths, a frequent villain in many Western tales and biologically famous for their adherence to pack mentality.
Wolf Play is a messy, funny disturbing theatrical experience grappling with a wolf, a puppet, and a very prickly problem of "what is a family, and what do we need from them, today? Is it very different from the things humans have needed from families before?"
INFO LINK: Learn more.
Work Selected for Development Support
Table|Room|Stage offers dramaturgical incubation and support, space for testing ideas and access to production and design advice for select projects. These "On the Workbench" projects stretch the traditional boundaries of theatre.
Schooler says: "We are most interested in work that will be performed by its creator, expresses a distinctive cultural point of view, and attempts something brave. These projects may feature eclectic performance approaches with a strong narrative element, and might be body-based works, puppetry, spoken word, burlesque, song cycles, technology performance, etc. In addition to reflecting the interests of T|R|S, "On the Workbench" projects offer these qualities: surprise, curiosity, daring, naiveté, fearlessness, irreverence, and perhaps a splash of something feral."
Hudson is a performer and filmmaker perhaps best known as Portland's premier drag clown Carla Rossi, an immortal trickster whose attempts at realness almost always result in fantastic failure. Together they have been featured at the Risk/Reward Festival, Critical Mascara at TBA (PICA), the Cascade AIDS Project Art Auction, Seattle PrideFest, and more, in addition to hosting and programming their LGBTQ film series QUEER HORROR at the historic Hollywood Theatre. Hudson's two full-length shows - Carla Rossi Sings the End of the World and Looking for Tiger Lily - premiered thanks to support from the Regional Arts and Culture Council.
Project Description: Still Looking for Tiger Lily
In 2016, Anthony Hudson - the human vessel for Carla Rossi - created Looking for Tiger Lily, utilizing song, dance, drag, and video to put a queer spin on the ancestral tradition of storytelling. Asking what it means for a mixed-race person to experience their heritage through white normative culture, Hudson recounted his favorite childhood movie - the filmed production of Mary Martin's "Peter Pan" - while seeking to understand his own racial self-identification and where he, as a half-white and half-Indigenous person, holds accountability and consequence. Not just autobiography, Looking for Tiger Lily was a coming-of-age story that was more than just cowboys vs. Indians.
Built around and picking up where Looking for Tiger Lily left off, Still Looking for Tiger Lily finds Anthony and Carla questioning not only their place within their respective cultures, but Hudson's place in the world as an artist. Dealing with Impostor Syndrome, doubt, anxiety, and shamanic kale smoothies, Still Looking for Tiger Lily weaves through time and narrative in the never-ending quest for authenticity.
INFO LINK: Learn more.
Mars most recently appeared on Portland stages as Mary Todd Lincoln with Artists Rep's A Civil War Christmas. At Artists Rep she performed her holiday show Mars on Life for three seasons, and has also appeared as Dinah in The Quality of Life, Julia in Holidazed, Becca in Rabbit Hole, Mabel in Chaps, and Karen in Dinner with Friends. Mars recently appeared at Portland Opera as Mrs. Lovett in Sweeny Todd. She's appeared at Portland Playhouse as Margaret in The Light in the Piazza, and was Golde in Portland Center Stage's Fiddler on the Roof. Other favorite roles at Portland Center Stage include Rona Lisa Peretti in The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee, Mother in Ragtime, Mama Rose in Gypsy, and Merideth in Bat Boy. In Seattle, she was Frieda and Betty at Seattle's 5th Avenue Theatre in Sunday in the Park with George, and was also Susan in their production of Company. You may also have also seen her on NBC's Grimm as Drew Wu's psychiatrist, Dr. Richet. Mars is the proud recipient of six Portland Drama Critics awards. Her most recent recording Susannah Mars, Call It Home; The Music of Richard Gray is available, along with her first, the MAC nominated Take Me To The World, on LML Music. You can subscribe to her podcast Adventures In Artslandia on itunes, Find all this, and more, at www.susannahmars.com.
Project Description: Experiments in Love and Trust
Susannah Mars' artistic journey into life with her father began in 2014 with her Regional Arts and Culture Council (RACC) supported Good Grief, an innovative theatrical project that, in collaboration with invited artists Laura DiTrapani and Jacklyn Maddux, embraced the profound experiences of illness, death and grief in surprising and inspirational ways.
Good Grief was built on a foundation of stories chronicling the diagnosis and subsequent death of her father, character actor Kenneth Mars, and was capped off with a music video, The Dog Song by Nellie MacKay, made in collaboration with Laura DiTrapani and funded by RACC. Upon completion of this workshop Mars knew there was more, and knew, while this last piece had blossomed from her beloved father's death, the next step was to examine his life, and their life together. That is what she is now calling Experiments in Love and Trust.
INFO LINK: Learn more.
MORE ABOUT TABLE|ROOM|STAGE
T|R|S program initiatives include the playwright commissions with "At the Table," the playwright support program "On the Workbench," "In the House" where Andrea Stolowitz is the Lacroute Playwright-in-Residence, and a new public theatre investigation program, "Fresh Eyes." The "Fresh Eyes" program provides the public greater and unique access to the process of new work development through blogs. Leading these wide-ranging programs is Director of New Play Development and Dramaturgy Luan Schooler.
"The mission of T|R|S is to create an effective, hospitable environment where playwrights can write their most urgent, tender possible worlds into existence," said Luan Schooler.
ABOUT ARTISTS REPERTORY THEATRE
Artists Repertory Theatre's mission is to produce intimate, provocative theatre and provide a home for artists of varied backgrounds to take creative risks. Artists Rep is Portland's premiere mid-size regional theatre company and is led by Artistic Director Dámaso Rodríguez and Managing Director Sarah Horton. Founded in 1982, Artists Repertory Theatre is the longest-running professional theatre company in Portland. Artists Rep became the 72nd member of the League of Resident Theatres (LORT) in 2016 and is an Associate Member of the National New Play Network (NNPN). Artists Rep's 35th season is announced, the 2017/18 play selections can be found here.
Artists Rep has become a significant presence in American Regional Theatre with a legacy of world, national and regional premieres of provocative new work with the highest standards of stagecraft. The organization is committed to local artists and features a company of Resident Artists, professionals of varied theatre disciplines, who are a driving force behind Artists Rep's creative output and identity.
Artists Rep is committed to developing new work through its new play development program Table|Room|Stage. With T|R|S, Artists Rep strives to empower and support Oregon-based playwrights while also creating a Portland home for writers from around the country to develop their work. Additionally, this program strives to make a meaningful impact on diversity, equity and inclusion in the theatre field by mandating opportunities for women, transgender and non-binary writers, writers and writers of color, and cultivating the next generation of theatre- goers by creating work specifically for young people (13 and up). Artists Rep makes a vital impact on the Portland arts community with its ArtsHub, creating space and offering a home to 10 multidisciplinary arts organizations within its facility.
RESIDENT ARTISTS - Artists Rep productions feature the work of a core group of over two dozen multidisciplinary theatre professionals. Hailing from around the country, our Resident Artists are nationally renowned and award-winning actors, directors, writers, designers and educators who have chosen to make Portland and Artists Rep their artistic home. Working together and independently, they create inventive and theatrically rich experiences for our audiences while playing a major role in defining Portland's cultural landscape.
TABLE|ROOM|STAGE - Through T|R|S, Artists Rep is committed to becoming an engine for new play development. As a recipient of a $125,000 Oregon Community Foundation Creative Heights grant to establish a robust new play development program, the company is creating opportunities for local and national playwrights to ensure that underrepresented voices are heard on stage. The goal of the T|R|S program was to commission plays from writers of color, women, transgender and non-binary writers, writers of color and writers of work for young audiences and one local writer. Artists Rep has commissioned plays from Yussef El Guindi, Linda Alper, Larissa Fasthorse, Andrea Stolowitz (Lacroute Playwright-in-Residence), Dael Orlandersmith and Hansol Jung, as well as Steve Rathje, the Oregon Play Prize winner . El Guindi's play The Talented Ones is onstage now through May 21, 2017. More information about all these At the Table projects is on the website. On the Workbench is another aspect of the T|R|S initiative which is supporting the creation of new works by Anthony Hudson and Susannah Mars. Additionally, the Fresh Eyes program invites 'civilians' to attend productions in rehearsal and share their observations with the wider community.
ARTSHUB - Artists Rep is also home to the ArtsHub, serving as a community arts center, where its performance venues and lobbies buzz with creative energy and Portland's arts-loving audiences can gather. Artists Rep offers a home within its facility to a diverse range of artists and arts organizations. They can thrive here with access to affordable administrative, performance and rehearsal space, as well as a myriad of support services. Over the last year, hundreds of performances, events and happenings by Portlanders found a place in Artists Rep's building.
The 2016/17 Artists Repertory Theatre season is presented by sponsors Ronni Lacroute/WillaKenzie Estate and David & Christine Vernier and the Robert and Mercedes Eichholz and Renaissance Foundations. Table|Room|Stage is funded by a grant from the Oregon Community Foundation. Other season support comes from the Collins Foundation, Doris Duke Charitable Foundation, Meyer Memorial Trust, James F. and Marion L. Miller Foundation, Theatre Communication Group and the Regional Arts and Culture Council and Work for Art.