Skip to main content Skip to footer site map



As we head into the final weekend of Fertile Ground 2020, here's recap of the excellent shows I saw this week.


This show, by Red Balloon Theatre Collective (RBTC) has been the best surprise of my festival so far. I had no idea what to expect from this relatively new ensemble when I walked into the basement of Alberta Abbey. What I experienced was a beautiful, expressive exploration of pain and fear and the ways we deal with those emotions. It was a powerful tribute to our inner strength.

THE WAYS WE COPE is a movement-based piece, blending theatre, dance, and visual art. Four women are each dealing with something difficult -- sexual violence, the loss of a mother, feelings of social isolation, a crippling fear of being seen. The stories are revealed via short interwoven vignettes, which probe the sources of the women's pain, the ways they've learned to cope, and how they can break out of destructive cycles. Ultimately, THE WAYS WE COPE is about finding your way through the darkness, which often requires getting a little help from your friends.

This piece began its life during Shaking The Tree Theatre's inaugural Open Space Residency in December 2018. There are no more Fertile Ground performances, but keep an eye on RBTC for news about future productions.


Wherever you fall on the political spectrum, you'll probably agree that the state of our public discourse at the moment is dismal. Debates have become shouting matches, and too many voices are being silenced -- ironically, often in the name of free speech.

Set on a liberal arts college campus, Andrea Stolowitz's RECENT UNSETTLING EVENTS, which won the Portland Civic Theatre Guild's 2020 New Play Award, echoes several real-life events that have occurred on campuses in the past few years (like what happened at Evergreen State when professor Ben Weinstein refused to participate in the "Day of Absence"). In the play, the catalyst is the required Western Civilization classics course, which students protest as perpetuating racism because the texts are all the work of dead white males. The complicating factor is that the class is taught by a Latina woman, raising the question of whose voice is really being silenced.

RECENT UNSETTLING EVENTS provides a nuanced look at the complex interplay among identity and free speech, and at what happens when discourse devolves. I found it thoroughly engrossing and also mega-gutsy. Later this month, the play will have a reading in New York, and I will have my fingers crossed that it gets picked up for a full production.


Great news! It's not too late for you to see Yocto Theatre's TOO LATE! It's been selling out, so for the first time in Fertile Ground history, they added an additional showtime -- Sunday at 2pm. If you've been feeling down lately, or need some extra positivity in your life (who doesn't?), you will want to take advantage of this opportunity.

TOO LATE!, conceived by Mary Rose and written by Rose, Sean Bowie, and the members of Portland Action Theatre, is all about regrets. Specifically, it's about letting go of regrets so that they don't trap us in the past. Whether it's standing against injustice, singing when you have a song to share, or simply contributing more significantly to potlucks, we all have things we wish we could have done differently.

Combining theatre, storytelling, music, and dance, TOO LATE! encourages us to exorcise the demons of our regrets and focus on the future. It's inspiring, uplifting, and will give you the best gift of all -- a feeling of joy to take home with you.

From This Author - Krista Garver

Review: HADESTOWN at Keller AuditoriumReview: HADESTOWN at Keller Auditorium
July 21, 2022

What did our critic think of HADESTOWN at Keller Auditorium?HADESTOWN, Anaïs Mitchell’s terrific Tony- and Grammy-winning musical now on national tour, urges us to have hope that if we can imagine a better world, we can create one…even if the odds (and the gods) are against us. 

Review: THE CHERRY ORCHARD at Portland Experimental Theatre EnsembleReview: THE CHERRY ORCHARD at Portland Experimental Theatre Ensemble
July 1, 2022

Funny, poignant, weird – Portland Experimental Theatre Ensemble’s new take on THE CHERRY ORCHARD, translated by Štĕpán Šimek, is a vehicle to showcase what both Chekhov and PETE do best.

Review: KISSING THE WITCH at Corrib TheatreReview: KISSING THE WITCH at Corrib Theatre
June 21, 2022

Corrib’s production, directed by Tracy Cameron Francis, uses movement and visual effects to bring the magical, mystical nature of fairy tales to the forefront, while also reinforcing that these are real people dealing with real issues.

Review: RENT at Portland Center StageReview: RENT at Portland Center Stage
June 16, 2022

Director Chip Miller delivers a vibrant and touching production of musical theatre's most iconic shows.

BWW Review: BELLA: AN AMERICAN TALL TALE at Portland PlayhouseBWW Review: BELLA: AN AMERICAN TALL TALE at Portland Playhouse
May 20, 2022

Kirsten Childs’ 2016 musical, now running at Portland Playhouse, offers a new take on American folklore, featuring a new tall tale hero: Bella Patterson, “a woman of mythic proportions and heroic appeal.”