July Brings a Wealth of Wide-Eyed Obsessives to Portland Center Stage's JAW 2010

Article Pixel

Conspiracy theorists, reclusive graphic novelists, one-hit wonders, glossed-over expressionists and a guy named Gnit are just a few of the wild-eyed obsessives we'll be obsessing about at the 2010 JAW: A Playwright's Festival.

The festival features two notable returnees this year: The first, nationally respected playwright, Will Eno, had such a good experience developing Middletown at last year's JAW that he is returning to workshop his latest project, a modern adaptation of Ibsen's Peer Gynt called Gnit. Eno's 2009 JAW project, Middletown, world premieres this month at Steppenwolf in Chicago.

The other notable returnee is exciting for a different reason. In this case, Sara Jane Accuardi, a young Oregonian who fell in love with playwriting through our student Visions & Voices Promising Playwrights program, went on to receive her degree in playwriting at university, and is now returning to JAW, this time as a Made In Oregon writer of a piece entitled Portrait of the Widow Kinski.

There are two other Oregon writers in the festival this year. Ebbe Roe Smith will be returning to participate in Made in Oregon with Night Terrors and William S. Gregory has been selected for a prime time JAW reading of his Necessity.

The Festival will open with the Made in Oregon series, featuring works-in-progress from Oregon writers, with performances at 8:00 pm July 17th and 18th on the Ellyn Bye Studio.

The Festival Weekend performances will be held Saturday, July 24thand Sunday, July 25th on the Portland Center Stage Main Stage at 4:00 pm and 8:00 pm each day. All JAW performances are free and open to the public.

(July 17- 18, Main Stage)

Night Terrors by Ebbe Roe Smith Saturday, July 17th at 8:00 pm
On the eve of an important business meeting a middle aged man has nightmares in which a horse and incubi, features of the masterpiece painting The Nightmare by Henry Fuseli, come to life in comic, and horrifying, ways.

Portrait of the Widow Kinski by Sara Jean Accuardi Sunday, July 18th at 8:00 pm
An artist compatriot of Jackson Pollack's falls into obscurity. His widow works tirelessly to find an audience for his neglected work. A chance encounter in a Costco yields the possibility of a real gallery showing and a critical re-examination of Kinski's role in the abstract expressionist movement. But can it be trusted? And will it lead to unexpected costs... and rewards?

(July 24 - 25, Main Stage)

The JAW Festival Weekend is the culmination of a full week of dramaturgy, rehearsals and rewrites for 4 plays-in-progress selected from 100s of submissions received from around the country. An important next step in the development of new work, these free to the public workshop readings allow the playwrights to collaborate with professional actors and dramaturges and expose an early draft of their work to audience feedback. The following plays will be read during the Festival Weekend:

Necessity by William S. Gregory Saturday, July 24th at 4:00 pm

William S. Gregory has a reputation for plays with heightened, almost lyric language. In Necessity, he applies those sensibilities to the story of one of the first African-American soldiers to serve in the US Army, whose post WWI return to his hometown results in a double murder and a town torn apart by racial discord. The piece is structured like a Greek Tragedy, complete with chorus, off stage violence and a protagonist with a tragic flaw.

Gnit by Will Eno Saturday, July 24th at 8:00 pm

An adaptation of Henrik Ibsen's masterpiece Peer Gynt, in Will Eno's hands the classic tale becomes a satire of the self-obsessed artist, the guy whose search for "authentic self" wreaks nothing but destruction in the lives of everyone he meets. The result: a discordant, wry fugue on the topic of narcissistic masculinity, rife with Eno's trademark terse rhythms and sudden moments of shocking literary clarity.

A Maze by Rob Handel Sunday, July 25th at 4:00 pm

Four strands weave through this searching examination of an artist's obsessive drive toward creation: a fantasy world where a king builds the world's biggest maze; a ripped from the headlines child abduction story; the inner sanctum of a recluse graphic novelist; and a one-hit wonder band on the brink of a groundbreaking new concept album. As the strands recombine in surprising ways, we are forced to examine whether the actions of the artist ever negate the power of their art.

The North Plan by Jason Wells Sunday, July 25th at 8:00 pm

Tonya's not the brightest bulb in the bush- she turns herself in for drunk driving (the day AFTER she arrives home safely) and then is obscenely, profanely appalled when she is jailed for the offence. Then a guy shows up who is either a whack job conspiracy theorist or a former State Department employee with vital data about an impending fascist takeover (replete with the planned internment of journalists and creatives). He tries to convince Tonya to help get the word out about the impending national crisis, with horrifying/hilarious results.

Also returning to JAW 2010 will be the Theater Fair from 3 pm to 8 pm on Saturday July 24th, Promising Playwright readings before each Festival Weekend performance, Devise and Conquer site specific performances, and Community Artists Labs that have been entertaining and informative hallmarks of previous years' festivals.

ABOUT JAW. For 12 years JAW has created a space for playwrights to grow as writers and as professionals. Of the 40 plus plays that have received workshops at the festival, more than 50% have received world premiere productions at a regional theaters ranging from the NY Theater Workshop to Steppenwolf to Berkeley Rep to Portland's own Third Rail Rep. Ten JAW plays have later received fully staged productions at Portland Center Stage, giving Portland a strong national reputation for not only incubating new work, but helping to see that work to successful fruition.

JAW: A Playwright's Festival is made possible in part by funding from The Kinsman Foundation, The Oregon Cultural Trust, the Oregon Arts Commission, The Regional Arts and Culture Council and RACC/Work for Art, the Maybelle Clark McDonald Foundation, and the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.

Portland Center Stage inspires our community by bringing stories to life in unexpected ways. Established in 1988 as an off shoot of the Oregon Shakespeare Festival, PCS became an independent theater in 1994 and has been under the leadership of Artistic Director Chris Coleman since May 2000. The company presents a blend of classic, contemporary and original productions in a conscious effort to appeal to the eclectic palate of theatergoers in Portland. PCS also offers a variety of education and outreach programs for curious minds from six to 106, including the PCS GreenHouse, a school of theater.

THE GERDING THEATER AT THE ARMORY houses a 599-seat Main Stage and a 200-seat black box Studio. It was the first building on the National Register of Historic Places, and the first performing arts venue, to achieve a LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) Platinum certification. The Gerding Theater at the Armory opened to the public on Oct. 1, 2006. The capital campaign to fund the renovation of this hub for community artistic activity continues.

Related Articles View More Portland Stories   Shows

More Hot Stories For You