Shelley Tate Spices Up Portland With Immersive New Solo Show GUMBO
Portland's melting pot is about to get spicy as Blue Flourish Productions proudly presents the World Premiere of GUMBO... a steel magnolia in the Rose City, a solo show written and performed by Louisiana native Shelley Tate.
Directed by Dorinda Toner, this playful, interactive, and thought-provoking immersive theatrical experience about Louisiana history and culture - the people, the music, and of course, the food - will run at the Curious Comedy Annex on Thursdays through Sundays from October 10-27, 2019.
What if you love the people and place you come from but don't belong there anymore? Cajun girl turned Portlander Shelley Tate stirs the pot of culture, race, politics, and all of our assumptions about the "rest of the country" in GUMBO...a steel magnolia in the Rose City. Tate creates a delicious Gumbo of characters, blending one northwest Cajun with the tales of her Louisiana ancestors. She tosses in a brash cooking show hostess, an overly enthusiastic dance teacher, an Acadian grandmother, a Creole mistress, and even a Cajun schoolgirl. Then, folds in some stand-up comedy, a dash of TED Talk, and dusts it with poetry, history, and geography, before finally garnishing it all with multimedia and just a hint of books, boobs, and beads.
Audiences will interact with educational stations about such diverse topics as Mardi Gras and Voodoo, learn to dance a Cajun waltz or two-step, and of course, sample some gumbo. Tate leads them through an engaging adventure of the history and culture of Louisiana, while addressing social justice issues pertinent to Oregonians, including discrimination, politics, and poverty, among others. With many moments of direct comparisons between the two states, and even the two cities (Portland and New Orleans), GUMBO addresses the universal need for home and belonging, and the fact that many Portlanders are transplants, who will innately identify with Tate's inspiring tale.
About Shelley Tate: Originally from New Orleans, Louisiana, Shelley Tate is an actor/ writer/ director who has called Portland home for the last fifteen years. She is a public-school teacher who is passionate about using theatre to educate, to entertain, and to foster empathy. In addition to writing and performing her own work, Tate has been seen on Portland stages in a variety of roles such as Malvolio in Twelfth Night, Truvy in Steel Magnolias, Maddy in Dog Opera, and Karen in Dinner with Friends, as well as Mary in The Memory of Water, Debbie/ Jill in The Heidi Chronicles, and the Female Greek Chorus in How I Learned to Drive.
About Dorinda Toner (Director): Dorinda Toner has been performing on stages across North America for over 34 years. She studied Theater and Directing at University in her native country of Canada where she is also a multi-album Canadian Recording Artist. Toner has produced and directed dozens of plays and has won several awards for her work, including: Every Christmas Story Ever Told (Twittie and a Sparkle award for its ensemble work), Spamalot! (Applause NW Ovation Award), Wit (Slocum Award), The December Man, Becky's New Car, The Heidi Chronicles, The Curious Savage, Pride & Prejudice, Thoroughly Modern Millie and The Laramie Project. Dorinda has served on several Non-profit Theatre boards and has been the Producing Artistic Director of Twilight Theater Company in north Portland since 2016.