Portland Center Stage Announces 2016 JAW: A Playwrights Festival Lineup
Portland Center Stage's 18th annual JAW: A Playwrights Festival will have the Armory buzzing July 29 through July 31 with three staged readings of new scripts by JAW featured playwrights, two workshop presentations of upcoming PCS world premiere productions, and a wide array of other performances and activities that will animate the building throughout the weekend. JAW is free and open to the public at the Armory (128 NW Eleventh Ave, Portland, OR, 97209). More information at www.pcs.org/JAW.
The JAW staged readings include Kevin Artigue's The Forcings, Mia Chung's Catch as Catch Can and Nathan Dame's The Saints along with workshop presentations of Wild and Reckless: A new musical event from Blitzen Trapper and Lauren Weedman Doesn't Live Here Anymore, which are debuting at the Armory during the 2016-2017 season. New scripts from JAW's Promising Playwrights will kick off the readings on Friday night.
This year's Press Play events range from a yoga session to Indonesian gamelan music, with offerings from Heidi Duckler Dance Theatre, Hygeia Healing, Okaidja, Shaking the Tree, Theatre Vertigo and Venerable Showers of Beauty, along with a discussion with Chris Coleman about the creative process for the upcoming world premiere of Astoria: Part One. Three Community Artist Labs will provide interactive opportunities to explore dramaturgy and playwriting: A Dramaturg Prepares, with members of the JAW dramaturgy team; Being a Good Host: Inviting the Creative Spirit in and Feeding it Well with Mia Chung; and Lauren Weedman's Awesome Lab!.
2016 JAW FESTIVAL SCHEDULE:
FRIDAY, JULY 29, 2016
8 p.m. JAW Kick-off Event: Promising Playwrights, Ellyn Bye Studio
5 p.m. Artist Lab: A Dramaturg Prepares Admission by Lottery
SATURDAY, JULY 30, 2016
10:45 a.m. Press Play: LifeStretch© Yoga with Hygeia Healing, Ellyn Bye Studio
12 p.m. STAGED READING: The Saints by Nathan Dame, U.S. Bank Main Stage
2:45 p.m. Press Play: Astoria Conversation with Chris Coleman, Ellyn Bye Studio
3:15 p.m. Press Play: Music from Okaidja, Main and Mezzanine Lobbies
4 p.m. STAGED READING: Catch as Catch Can by Mia Chung, U.S. Bank Main Stage
7:10 p.m. Press Play: Shaking the Tree's Site Specific Performance, Ellyn Bye Studio Lobby
7:40 p.m. Press Play: Shaking the Tree's Site Specific Performance, Ellyn Bye Studio Lobby
SUNDAY, JULY 31, 2016
11 a.m. Artist Lab: Being a Good Host: Inviting the Creative Spirit in..., Admission by Lottery
11 a.m. Artist Lab: Lauren Weedman's Awesome Lab!, Admission by Lottery
2:30 p.m. Press Play: Theatre Vertigo's Carnivora Reading, Ellyn Bye Studio
3:40 p.m. Press Play: Heidi Duckler Dance Theatre's Performance, Main and Mezzanine Lobbies
4 p.m. STAGED READING: The Forcings by Kevin Artigue, U.S. Bank Main Stage
7 p.m. Press Play: Music from Venerable Showers of Beauty, Main and Mezzanine Lobbies
8 p.m. STAGED READING: Wild and Reckless: A New Musical Event from Blitzen Trapper, U.S. Bank Main Stage
2016 JAW STAGED READINGS
All staged readings are free and open to the public. No reservations required. Post-show conversations with the playwrights are held after most readings. Please Note: The staged readings presented at JAW are works in progress. Staged readings are an important part of the play development process but do not represent completed scripts.
THE SAINTS BY Nathan Dame
Saturday, July 30 at 12 p.m. | U.S. Bank Main Stage As a child, Madison always felt adrift. She was shuffled around from foster home to foster home, and things haven't gone much more smoothly in adulthood. Just when her struggle for stability threatens to consume her, a chance encounter with a pair of young missionaries challenges Madison to put her past to rest and determine who she wants to become. Over the course of one gritty January in New York, The Saints chronicles the stingingly funny and poignant journey of a young woman making her way back to hope.
CATCH AS CATCH CAN BY MIA CHUNG
Saturday, July 30 at 4 p.m. | U.S. Bank Main Stage
The Phelans and the Lavecchias grew up in each other's homes, sharing the good times and the bad in their tight-knit middle class community. But when Tim Phelan moves back home with unexpected news, the members of this extended family find their bonds and very identities put to the test. Catch as Catch Can makes unconventional use of theatrical conventions to explore the shifting roles we play in the presence of family.
Lauren Weedman DOESN'T LIVE HERE ANYMORE
Saturday, July 30 at 8 p.m. | U.S. Bank Main Stage
Lauren's current obsessions: love and heartbreak; big hair and tight jeans; Loretta Lynn and John Prine - or songs she thinks make her look skinny and appropriately tragic. The hilarious and versatile Lauren Weedman (Bust, The People's Republic of Portland) knows a thing or two about love gone wrong, and she's ready to sing her heart out about it (Yes! Lauren sings!) and tell you a few tall tales, too. Lauren will be joined by a band of fine musicians; and we're pretty sure her hair will be bigger than ever. The world premiere production of Lauren Weedman Doesn't Live Here Anymore will run March 17 through April 30, 2017 at the Armory.
THE FORCINGS BY KEVIN ARTIGUE
Sunday, July 31 at 4 p.m. | U.S. Bank Main Stage Nobody knows what happened to "The 17," a group of environmental activists whose disappearance from an anti-Exxon protest site in Mexico sparked international outrage. Ernie Ledezma, the public face of Exxon's operations, navigated the corporation through the scandal, and now, on the eve of his retirement, his loved ones have gathered to celebrate. But the ghosts that haunt his achievements cast a shadow over the festivities, and the appearance of a mysterious stranger triggers a deluge of secrets to slip through his fingers. Rife with magic realism, The Forcings is a dynamic new play that stares unflinchingly at a family in crisis and a civilization barreling toward extinction.
WILD AND RECKLESS:
A NEW MUSICAL EVENT FROM BLITZEN TRAPPER
Sunday, July 31 at 8 p.m. | U.S. Bank Main Stage
Portland folk rockers Blitzen Trapper refuse to be pinned down and boxed in. The acclaimed band has mixed genre after genre into their musical arsenal over the fifteen years of playing together. Now they're unleashing their sound - and knack for lyrical storytelling - on the PCS stage. They've mined their Oregonian roots to create a show that asks: What's the sound of a life falling through the cracks? Fusing the energy of a rock concert with the imaginative possibility of the theater, Blitzen Trapper and PCS join forces in this new project, tracing the unforgettable stories of ordinary Americans caught in an extraordinary struggle to not get left behind. The world premiere production of Wild and Reckless: A new musical event from Blitzen Trapper will run March 16 through April 30, 2017 at the Armory.
PRESS PLAY EVENTS
Press Play events engage JAW audiences before and after staged readings. All Press Play events are free and open to the public in various locations around the Armory.
LifeStretch© Yoga with Hygeia Healing
Saturday July 30 at 10:45 a.m. | Ellyn Bye Studio
Start off the first day of JAW by engaging your body with some gentle stretching. Hygeia Healing offers LifeStretch© yoga as a complete, full-body, mobility stretch class. Techniques add mobility to joints to quickly gain increased range of motion - so you can enjoy JAW with renewed energy and vitality.
Astoria Conversation with Chris Coleman
Saturday, July 30 at 2:45 p.m. | Ellyn Bye Studio
Join Artistic Director Chris Coleman for a conversation about his creative process for adapting Peter Stark's best-selling book Astoria for the stage. The world premiere production of Astoria: Part One will run January 14 through February 12 at the Armory.
Music from Okaidja Saturday, July 30 at 3:15 p.m. | Main and Mezzanine Lobbies
Okaidja's sound is a spicy fusion of spirited Ghanaian music with diverse cross-cultural influences. He is a dynamic vocalist, a gifted multi-instrumentalist, and an exultant dancer. For this performance, Okaidja will perform with a large ensemble of his favorite musicians to create an unforgettable experience.
Shaking the Tree's Site Specific Performance
Saturday, July 30 at 7:10 p.m and 7:40 p.m. | Ellyn Bye Studio Lobby
Experience the story of Orpheus and Eurydice like never before, with Shaking the Tree's immersive, site-specific rendition for JAW. Shaking the Tree uses innovative ways to inhabit space, creating a heightened surrounding that allows audiences to experience a deeper, more active connection to the work.
Theatre Vertigo's Carnivora Reading
Sunday, July 31 at 2:30 p.m. | Ellyn Bye Studio
Theatre Vertigo presents a reading from their upcoming production of Carnivora, a horror-inspired play by local playwright Matthew B. Zrebski. Theatre Vertigo's mission is to engage audiences by producing high-quality, ensemble driven theatre with a focus on producing and developing new or rarely seen works.
Heidi Duckler Dance Theatre's Site Specific Performance
Sunday, July 31 at 3:40 p.m. | Main and Mezzanine Lobbies
Since its inception in 2010, Heidi Duckler Dance Theatre/Northwest (HDDT/NW) has been creating captivating storytelling through site-specific dance choreography in Portland and the surrounding metropolitan areas. For their JAW performance, they will animate the Main and Mezzanine lobbies with a transformative journey.
Music from Venerable Showers of Beauty
Sunday, July 31 at 7 p.m. | Main and Mezzanine Lobbies
Venerable Showers of Beauty seeks to foster artistic exchanges between Java and the Portland community through residencies, workshops and performances of Javanese gamelan music and related art forms such as wayang shadow puppetry and dance.
COMMUNITY ARTIST LABS
Admission is free for the Community Artist Labs, but attendance for each lab is limited and determined by random lottery. To enter the lottery, email firstname.lastname@example.org by July 24 and list which lab(s) you would like to attend.
A Dramaturg Prepares
Friday, July 29 from 5 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.
With Benjamin Fainstein, Karin Magaldi and Ellen Walkley
Many dramaturgs are champions of new work and directly support playwrights in bringing their artistic vision to light. Yet the dramaturg's role in the process eludes a cut-and-dry definition. In
this lab, members of the JAW dramaturgy team will host a practical discussion of their profession and provide a crash course in reading plays with a dramaturgical eye.
Being a Good Host: Inviting the Creative Spirit in and Feeding it Well
Sunday, July 31 from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.
With JAW featured playwright Mia Chung
This workshop will explore ways to host the creative impulse. The lab will act as an "annotated" writing session: bring something you're working on (a scene, a character, a draft or an idea); this will be the basis for looking at how you work. Also bring a notepad and a pen, in addition to whatever you usually use for writing (e.g. a laptop). This workshop aims to highlight writing patterns and develop strategies to enhance rapport with creativity.
Lauren Weedman's Awesome Lab!
Sunday, July 31 from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.
With JAW featured playwright Lauren Weedman
This writing/performance lab combines flash writing exercises with direct and frank feedback (and maybe some dancing), to help you mine your most humiliating stories, obsessions, journal ramblings, joys, traumas, dramas and flat-out lies to help shape a short performance piece. Participants should bring in a piece - an outline, a monologue, an idea - to workshop.
Since launching in 1999, JAW (short for Just Add Water) has created a space for playwrights to have complete creative control and the resources to work on whatever they want to develop in their scripts. Each year, playwrights are chosen from nearly 200 submissions nationwide to collaborate with directors, dramaturgs, actors and other theater professionals from across the United States. Of the 60+ plays that have received workshops at the festival, more than 50% have received world premiere productions at a regional theater, ranging from the NY Theater Workshop to Steppenwolf Theatre, to Berkeley Repertory Theatre to Portland's own Third Rail Repertory Theater. Fourteen JAW plays have received fully staged productions at PCS, giving Portland a strong national reputation for not only incubating new work, but helping to see that work to successful fruition.
The JAW Festival Director is PCS Associate Artistic Director Rose Riordan, and her JAW team at PCS includes: JAW Festival Co-Producer Kelsey Tyler; JAW Festival Co-Producer Brandon Woolley; JAW Festival Company Manager Don Kenneth Mason; JAW Literary Manager Benjamin Fainstein; JAW Literary Associate Mary Blair; and countless hardworking PCS staff and volunteers that bring their talents and energies to JAW each year.
All JAW events happen at Portland Center Stage's home at the Armory, 128 NW Eleventh Ave., Portland, Ore., 97209.
PCS is committed to making our performances and facilities accessible to all of our patrons. Learn more at www.pcs.org/access.
Recommended for high school age and up. Children under 6 are not permitted.
Portland Center Stage inspires our community by bringing stories to life in unexpected ways. Established in 1988 as a branch 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 discussions, classes, workshops and partnerships with organizations throughout the Portland metro area.
The Gerding Theater at the Armory houses the 590-seat U.S. Main Stage and the 190-seat black box Ellyn Bye 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.
Pictured: The cast of The Huntsmen rehearses their staged reading for JAW: A Playwrights Festival 2011. Photo by Patrick Weishampel.