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BWW Preview: 9 Fertile Ground 2016 Shows You'll Want to Check Out


Fertile Ground 2016 is underway! That means we lucky Portlanders have 11 days to cram in as much theatre as possible. Below are nine shows I'm pretty excited about, in alphabetical order.

Note: This list excludes all shows that are part of a theatre's regular season, like CoHo's THE YELLOW WALLPAPER, Milagro's BROKEN PROMISES, and Portland Experimental Theatre Ensemble's [OR, THE WHALE].

In case you don't make it to the end, you can buy tickets for all of these here:


This show, from brand new PDX company Source Material Collective is a performance-concert by classically trained Danish performer Nini Julia Bang. It will make its officially premiere in November at Poland's Grotowski Institute. Source Material founder and the director of this show, Samantha Ravenna Soley Shay, described the show as Bang's "vision to articulate the power of self-expression through music."

Jan. 22, 23, and 24 at 8pm at The Headwaters.


This is a one-woman show about Russian fairy tale character Baba Yaga written, devised, and performed by Sam Reiter. Reiter developed it as part of her senior thesis project, which included a semester developing the show at the Moscow Art Theatre. I met Reiter at a media event and she had me at hello. In character as Baba Yaga, she proffered a large wooden spoon and asked me if her imaginary soup needed one more child or two (two, obvi).

Jan. 24 at 2pm; Jan 25, 26, 27, 28 at 8pm at The Headwaters


OK, so this is cheating a little, because I've already seen this. But, wow! It's fantastic! I loved it, loved it, loved it! It's a blues-meets-Broadway concert musical about love, loss, and all of the things that make the world go round. Music by Dave Fleschner and story by Wayne Harrel, featuring Jimmy Wilcox and Billy Mixer of the Portland Gay Men's Chorus. This show is fantastic. Broadway, watch out!

Jan. 22 at 7:30 pm at Michelle's Pianos


This play about a woman passing for white in 1880s Portland won the Portland Civic Theatre Guild's 2014 playwriting contest. I've heard that the cast is incredible.

Jan. 28, 29 at 7:30pm; Jan 31 at 2pm at Lincoln Hall, Portland State University

ETHYL'S PIES: A Comedy of Deception in Two Acts

A "darkly comedic tour-de-force in a down-at-the-heels-diner once famous for its fine pies and salty service." Sounds like brunch in Portland. I'm sold!

Jan. 22, 23, 24, 29, 30, 31 at 7:30pm at Y Arts Little Theater


It's really all in the title, right? Local performance artist Faith Helma takes on the self-improvement industry and promises to lead us on "an expedition to into an alternate world, in which we find freedom through embracing failure, speaking truth to power, and dancing like jackasses." I'm in!

Jan. 22, 23, 24, 29, 30, 31 at 7:30pm, Feb. 5, 6, 7 at 7:30 pm at Shout House

NOISE IN THE WATERS: Music & Theatre on the Mediterranean Refugee Crisis

Boom Arts brings us an evening of music and theatre about the ongoing human rights crisis in the Mediterranean. This show is presented in partnership with the World Affairs Council and Mercy Corps.

Jan. 24 at 4pm at Alberta Rose Theatre


This show was described to me as a Millennial version of Faust. Matthew McConaughey sells his soul for the Oscar for Dallas Buyers' Club. For me, the intriguing part is that this show was written by two women and features music by Drammy Award winner Jonathan Quesenberry.

Jan. 26 at 7:00pm at Lakewood Theatre Company

THE ZOAS: I Have Seen the Future

According to the description, "The Zoas is a serialized supernatural musical dramedy in the traditions of The Muppet Show, Twin Peaks, and The Mighty Boosh." 'Nuff said.

Jan. 27 at 8pm at The Secret Society

See you at the festival!

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