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Portland Center Stage at The Armory Celebrates the 20th Anniversary of JAW: A Playwrights Festival


Portland Center Stage at The Armory Celebrates the 20th Anniversary of JAW: A Playwrights Festival This July, Portland Center Stage at The Armory celebrates the 20th Anniversary of JAW: A Playwrights Festival. The two week festival - during which artists from across the country collaborate to workshop and develop exciting new scripts - culminates in the Big Weekend of free staged readings, along with community classes, dance, music, and other events at The Armory.

JAW's BIG 2-0H brings the work of four dynamic playwrights to Portland. Meghan Brown serves up power, complicity, pleasure, fear ... and food ... with her outrageously funny play The Tasters. Clarence Coo presents an unusual yet entirely understandable preference to jays, sparrows and warblers over humans with The Birds of Empathy. Emily Feldman challenges the way we hear women's stories, using humor and arresting imagery in Pick a Color. Finally, Matthew Paul Olmos brings magical realism and visceral theatricality together to explore how children are impacted by complicated adult fears in three girls never learnt the way home. Developing short scripts alongside these seasoned playwrights are the JAW Promising Playwrights, local high school students from Portland Center Stage at The Armory's Visions & Voices program, who have been commissioned to write new scripts for the festival's kickoff event.

The JAW Big Weekend is July 27-29. FREE public readings of scripts in development will be presented at 4 p.m. and 8 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday, July 28 and 29. The JAW kickoff event will be held on at 8 p.m. on Friday, July 27, featuring the work of this year's Promising Playwrights. Surrounding the staged readings is JAW's Press Play series, offering a slew of events and performances from local artists, including Michael Galen, Shannon Sims, Subashini Ganesan and more, and JAW's Community Artist Labs, providing a chance to dig deeper into the theatrical process with members of the JAW company. As always, JAW is FREE and open to the public. For more information visit


Friday, July 27, 2018

8:00 p.m.

JAW KICKOFF: An evening of 10-minute plays written by six Portland-area high school playwrights

Ellyn Bye Studio

Saturday, July 28, 2018

1:00 to 3:00 p.m.

Community Artist Lab: You in Your Play: Autobiographical Writing for the Stage with playwright Emily Feldman*

1:30 to 3:00 p.m.

Panel: Where Are They Now with guest playwrights from JAWs past

Ellyn Bye Studio

3:00 to 4:00 p.m.

In the Groove dance battle hosted by Michael Galen

Main Lobby

3:00 to 8:00 p.m.

Etsy Maker Fair


4:00 p.m.

STAGED READING: three girls never learnt the way home by Matthew Paul Olmos

U.S. Bank Main Stage

7:00 to 8:00 p.m.

Tribally influenced hip-hop with Stryk-9 and 2 8 THA NATIVE

Main Lobby

7:00 to 8:00 p.m.

Food art installation from Shannon Sims, tasting at 7:45 p.m.


8:00 p.m.

Staged Reading: The Tasters by Meghan Brown

U.S. Bank Main Stage

Sunday, July 29, 2018

12:00 to 3:00 p.m.

Community Artist Lab: Stumbling Upon It: Exploring Writing From the Subconscious with playwright Matthew Paul Olmos*

12:00 to 3:00 p.m.

Community Artist Lab: Table Work on Your Feet with Director Margot Bordelon*

3:00 to 4:00 p.m.

Harmony driven folk band Five Letter Word

Main Lobby

4:00 p.m.

STAGED READING: Pick a Color by Emily Feldman

U.S. Bank Main Stage

7:00 to 8:00 p.m.

Tracing the Essence by Subashini Ganesan and collaborators

Main Lobby

8:00 p.m.

STAGED READING: The Birds of Empathy by Clarence Coo

U.S. Bank Main Stage

*Admission is free for Community Artist Labs but attendance is limited and determined by lottery. To enter the lottery email by July 23 and list your preferred labs.

Staged readings are free and open to the public. No reservations required. Seating is general admission. Post-show conversations with the playwrights are held after most readings. Please Note: Staged readings are part of the play development process and do NOT represent completed scripts.

three girls never learnt the way home

By Matthew Paul Olmos

Saturday, July 28, 4:00 p.m.
Matthew Paul Olmos' play focuses on the friendship of three minority girls, who find themselves straddling two different worlds after being bussed to a newly integrated school. Using elements of magical realism and visceral theatricality, three girls never learnt the way home explores the question of what happens to children caught in the middle of complicated adult fears.

The Tasters
By Meghan Brown

Saturday, July 28, 8:00 p.m.
With a rebel army poisoning government leaders left and right, the women known as Tasters have an important political role: Every day, they eat delicious gourmet meals and wait to see if it kills them. When the rebellious Elyse starts a hunger strike, she kicks off a series of events that could change the course of history - but not before she puts all of the Tasters' lives in jeopardy. Meghan Brown's new play about power and complicity (and pleasure and fear and food!) is outrageously funny and undeniably timely.

Pick a color
By Emily Feldman

Sunday July 29, 4:00 p.m.
Pick a Color follows four women taking refuge in a local nail salon to momentarily escape the stresses, heartbreak - and joys - of the busy winter holiday season. Playwright Emily Feldman uses her consciously theatrical storytelling style to present intimate portraits of women digging within themselves for the strength to fight off an army of reasons to despair. Shot through with humor and arresting imagery, the play celebrates the resilient emotional lives of women of middle age living in the American present.

The Birds of Empathy
By Clarence Coo

Sunday July 29, 8:00 p.m.
Nathan is alone. His ex-boyfriend has gotten engaged, his mom has retired to Costa Rica, and his social life has devolved into a parade of unsatisfying encounters. But Nathan loves birds - watching them, discovering them, identifying with them. So when an unexpected visit from an estranged neighbor threatens to destroy his routine, Nathan has to confront a crucial question: Does he even need people when he's got jays, sparrows and warblers?

Press Play events engage JAW audiences before and after staged readings. From dance battles to live music to art installations, Press Play events are a fun, free way to explore art and creativity in Portland.

Go deeper with these classes taught by JAW featured artists. Admission is free but attendance is limited and determined by lottery. To enter the lottery, email by July 23 and list your preferred labs. Labs are indicated in the above schedule with an asterisk.

ABOUT JAW: A Playwrights Festival

Since launching in 1999, JAW: A Playwrights Festival 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. Since its inception, 82 scripts have been developed at JAW and 17 JAW plays have received fully staged productions at Portland Center Stage at The Armory, giving Portland a strong national reputation for not only incubating new work, but helping to see that work to successful fruition. JAW plays have also gone on to receive world premiere productions at professional theaters across the country and beyond, including New York Theater Workshop, Steppenwolf Theatre and Berkeley Repertory Theatre.


Portland Center Stage at The Armory's Associate Artistic Director Rose Riordan is the JAW Festival Director. Joining her on the JAW team are JAW Festival Co-Producers Kelsey Tyler, Will Cotter and Brandon Woolley; JAW Literary Manager Benjamin Fainstein; JAW Festival Company Manager Meagan Mulgrew; Education and Community Programs Associate Clara-Liis Hillier; Promising Playwrights Director Matthew B. Zrebski; a slew of guest artists, both local and from around the country, including directors, dramaturgs, actors and other theater professionals; and the hardworking staff and volunteers of Portland Center Stage at The Armory who bring their talents and energies to JAW each year.

LOCATION: All public JAW events happen at The Armory, 128 NW Eleventh Ave., Portland, Ore., 97209

ACCESSIBILITY: Portland Center Stage at The Armory is committed to making its performances and facilities accessible to all patrons. Learn more at

AGE RECOMMENDATION: Most JAW events are recommended for high school age and up.

Portland Center Stage at The Armory

Portland Center Stage at The Armory is the largest theater company in Portland and among the top 20 largest regional theaters in the country. Established in 1988 as a branch of the Oregon Shakespeare Festival, the company became independent in 1994. Around 150,000 visitors attend The Armory annually to enjoy a mix of classical, contemporary and world premiere productions, along with a variety of high quality education and community programs. Eleven productions are offered each season, in addition to roughly 400 community events created - in partnership with 170+ local organizations and individuals - to serve the diverse populations in the city. As part of its dedication to new play development, the company has produced 26 world premieres and presents an annual new works festival, JAW: A Playwrights Festival. Home to two theaters, The Armory, which was originally built in 1891, opened its doors in 2006 as the first building on the National Register of Historic Places, and the first performing arts venue in the country, to achieve a LEED Platinum rating.


JAW: A Playwrights Festival is supported in part by the National Endowment for the Arts; The Kinsman Foundation; Don and Mary Blair; and Delta Air Lines. Portland Center Stage at The Armory's 2017-2018 season is funded in part by Season Superstars Tim and Mary Boyle and Lead Corporate Champion Umpqua Bank. Further support comes from Season Sponsors the Regional Arts and Culture Council, The Wallace Foundation and the Oregon Arts Commission, a state agency funded by the state of Oregon and the National Endowment for the Arts. Mark Spencer Hotel is the official hotel partner. Portland Center Stage at The Armory was selected as a participant of the Wallace Foundation's Building Audiences for Sustainability Initiative, a four-year effort with a nationwide cohort of 26 performing arts organizations.

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