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CoHo Productions Presents PLAYHOUSE CREATURES

What does it take to be (or not to be) a woman in the theatre? Playhouse Creatures shamelessly reveals their historic struggle to survive and thrive on stage and behind the scenes. Daring to tread the boards in Restoration England, Nell Gywnn and other leading ladies endured poverty, violence, harassment and social ostracism while under constant pressure to produce new and titillating entertainment. Their successes in the form of leading roles, trysts with the King and eventually shares in the company could - and do - disappear at any time

If the "future is female", what must we learn from "herstory"? Playwright April De Angelis offers poetic heroines who #resistandpersist, who challenge and inspire others to follow their radical lead. This co-production team and talented cast are all ambitious, creative women who understand today's pressing demands on women in the arts - between freelancing, teaching, day-jobbing, seeking child-care or relying on others for financial stability in the creative pursuit of "this thing one gives one's life blood for" to not only survive, but thrive.

PRODUCTION HISTORY

Playhouse Creatures has recieved multiple productions throughout the U.K. and United States, and this will be the first in Portland. It premiered in October 1993 at the Haymarket Theatre in England produced by the Sphinx Theatre Company. A revised commission of the play was produced in 1997 at the Old Vic in London where the playwright expanded the script to add four new characters and two more actors.

ARTISTIC NOTE by Co-Producer & Performer Brenan Dwyer

"Our production brings the story into the present by paralleling the trials and rewards of those pioneering actresses with the inequities still relevant to today's performers. In 1669, the women of Playhouse Creatures paid for their success financially, personally, and with their bodies.

Today, we still fight for good roles, authentic stories, and representative leadership. We have come far, but there is work to do. Playhouse Creatures tells our stories of fighting misogyny to find self worth in art. The production model for this project puts its money where its mouth is with a woman-centric team and living wages for our actresses. We want to use this play - written, directed, starring, and produced by women- to reframe the conversation about gender in our field. We're rolling up our sleeves.

When we began the journey of Playhouse Creatures, we had every hope of performing it as a celebration of the many successes of modern women, including, perhaps our first female president. We had no conception of the fear, threats, and hatred that infiltrate our current climate instead. Instead of retreating into the pretty frills of the Restoration as an escape, we view Playhouse Creatures as a call for continued action. McKenna and I believe it is essential to be vocal about the past, present and future accomplishments and setbacks of women, to discuss privilege and advantage as part of our artistic exploration, and to remember Playhouse Creatures honors that we stand on the shoulders of those who came before us. We owe it to them to continue to fight for progress, for justice, for equity, and for fulfillment for all.

We proudly step up to deliver a poignant story about the power of the woman artist. As Nell Gwynn and the women of Playhouse Creatures did centuries before, we have given everything we have to make this play and its message a reality. Our director Alana mused during one meeting, "as a woman, do you have to lose your soul to do this thing?" Let's find out."

SPECIAL EVENTS

  • Wednesday & Thursday, March 15 & 16 : Pay-what-you-will Previews
  • Friday, March 17 : Opening Night, post-show celebration in CoHo lobby.
  • Sunday, March 19 : Conversation with Cast & Creative Team, post-show panel, moderated by CoHo Artistic Fellow Jessica Dart
  • Sunday, March 26 : Theatrical Costuming and the Presentation of the Feminine, post-show panel (guests tbd)
  • Sunday, April 2: Women and Gender in 17th Century England, post-show panel (guests tbd)

THE PLAYWRIGHT, April De Angelis

April De Angelis's plays include Jumpy (Royal Court and West End), Wild East (Royal Court), A Laughing Matter (Out of Joint/NT/tour), The Warwickshire Testimony (RSC), The Positive Hour (Out of Joint/Hampstead/Old Vic; Sphinx), Headstrong (NT Shell Connections), Playhouse Creatures (Sphinx Theatre Company), Hush (Royal Court), Soft Vengeance (Graeae Theatre Company), Amongst Friends(Hampstead), The Life and Times of Fanny Hill (adapted from the James Cleland novel),Ironmistress(ReSisters Theatre Company) andWuthering Heights (adapted from Emily Brontë's novel for Birmingham Rep). Her work for BBC Radio includes Visitants, The Outlander, which won the Writers' Guild Award 1992, and Cash Cows for the Woman's Hour serial. For opera: Flight with composer Jonathan Dove (Glyndebourne), and the libretto for Silent Twins (Almeida).

THE CO-PRODUCERS, Brenan Dwyer and McKenna Twedt

Brenan Dwyer (Co-Producer, Performer) is an actor, writer, director and producer of stage and screen projects. A Portland native, she's worked in numerous houses around town as an Acting Company member at Northwest Classical Theatre Company, and Oregon Children's Theatre, Artist Repertory Theatre, Imago Theatre, Lakewood Theatre, Action/Adventure Theatre, Willamette Shakespeare and at CoHo in Enjoy.

With particular passion for work by and for women, Brenan is the creator of my web series Potty Talk, delivering three seasons of web-based sketch comedy from a grassroots foundation. She also wrote, directed, and produced No Man's Land for Action/Adventure Theatre's Pilot Season that over-sold every night, and was voted by the audience to return in 2016 for a full run.

McKenna Twedt (Co-Producer, Performer) is an actor and costume designer working in Portland and surrounding areas, and a graduate of Western Oregon University with Bachelor of Fine Arts in Acting and Costume Design. She's worked with local companies Theatre Vertigo, PHAME Academy, defunkt, Post5 Theatre, Third Rail Repertory, Tears of Joy, Lakewood Theatre, CoHo Productions and Northwest Classical Theatre. She is a former Third Rail Mentee, and former educator with Tears of Joy Theatre and Tigard High School Theatre Department.

THE CAST

THE PRODUCTION TEAM Lorraine Bahr as Mrs. Betterton
Brenan Dwyer as Mrs. Marshall
Jacklyn Maddux as Doll
Dainichia Noreault as Nell Gwynn
McKenna Twedt as Mrs. Farley

Samie Joan as Musician

Alana Byington - Director
Helena Fisher-Welsh - Assistant Director
Kaye Blankenship - Scenic Design
Jessica Carr - Costume Design
Emily Wilken - Props Design
Jenn Lindell - Stage Manager
Zoe Stuckless - Assistant SM
Jessica Dart - Dramaturg

For tickets and more information, visit www.cohoproductions.org.



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