From 2009 – 2011 I wrote content for Portland Playhouse’s season brochures. Here are examples of that work.
In the year since her husband Craig’s mysterious death in Iraq, Kelly’s done all she can to avoid contact with his twin brother, Peter. One day he appears at her door with questions Kelly can’t answer, memories of the last night the three spent together, and a stack of Craig’s e-mails from Iraq.
This Pulitzer Prize-finalist drama by Christopher Shinn is set in a turbulent post-9/11 landscape where grief is numbed by Law & Order, Abu Ghraib is a soldier’s punch line, and those left behind hold pieces to an uncertain future.
Shelly loves her Blow Pop and Todd and believes in fairies. Jerry’s got a busted chakra, but he eats the roughage so his poop is clean. And Ann somehow has to get Houston to understand that caregiving doesn’t pay the bills, especially the way her daughter buys Pokemon. That just leaves Scott, who’s face down on the table, unable to handle one more bathroom break or paying for the stuffed sheep. Welcome to our world.
Kristin Newbom’s Telethon is a frank dark comedy that crosses boundaries, blurring the line between able and disabled, challenging perceptions of people with severe disabilities, and unmasking America’s inequitable social structure of caregiving.
THE BROTHER/SISTER PLAYS
A trilogy of modern–day stories of kinship, love, heartache and coming of age from Tarell Alvin McCraney, the winner of the New York Times Outstanding Playwright Award. The Brother/Sister Plays delve into the world of a Louisiana Bayou housing project, a landscape of hardship and dreams. Influenced by Yoruban mythology, modern dance, and autobiography, and populated with stories of sacrifice, heartache, and laughter, this award-winning trilogy has been hailed as “the greatest piece of writing by an American playwright under 30” (Chicago Tribune).
- IN THE RED AND BROWN WATER: Oya runs — fast enough to win a scholarship out of the projects. But then the grief of family and the spirits of the bayou tear up the path beneath her swift feet, threatening to pull her beneath the waters. How strong is the song of Oya’s run and can she outpace the call of fate?
- THE BROTHERS SIZE: Orphaned in early childhood, Ogun and Oshoosi Size are inextricably bound. Always the responsible one, Ogun has borne the weight of his younger brother his entire life. Now, Oshoosi’s out on parole and back home, floundering to find his way amidst dead ends. Ogun’s willing to give him one more chance, but Oshoosi has to escape his past, which, no matter how far he drives, is always waiting for him.
- MARCUS, OR THE SECRET OF SWEET: A devastating storm’s heading to the bayou, and sixteen-year-old Marcus is haunted by a dream of pounding rain and an unidentifiable man — a dream his father once had and no one wants to hear. Marcus’s quest for its meaning takes him to the bayou’s darkness. The quest may cost him friendships and a mother’s love, but could also reveal the roots of his identity.
GEM OF THE OCEAN
As newly freed slaves journey northward, many find themselves on the doorstep of 1839 Wylie, the home of Aunt Ester, a 285-year-old former slave and renowned cleanser of souls. Among those seeking redemption is Citizen Barlow, burdened by an unconfessed crime that has thrust Pittsburgh’s local steel mill into riots. To release Citizen, Aunt Ester launches him on a journey aboard the legendary slave ship Gem of the Ocean, to the City of Bones, where Citizen is plunged into his ancestors’ suffering and the weight of his wrongs.
The walls of the Playhouse turn to water and uneasy ghosts seek remembrance this season when we descend to explore August Wilson’s silver streets built of bone. Mythic in its proportions, Gem of the Ocean travels to 1904, when slavery was a living memory and African Americans were searching for a new life within the uncertain meaning of freedom.
ANGELS IN AMERICA
Against a landscape of greed, sexual politics, and the cries of a sweeping AIDS epidemic, a lost America teeters on the tipping point of an unknown future. This story of love, power, and identity follows characters as diverse as a Mormon housewife, an ex-drag queen, and the fiery attorney Roy Cohn. It’s 1985 and an Angel with steel wings is hurtling toward Earth.
Harrowing, uproarious, and magical, Angels in America is a fiercely theatrical modern morality play and a landmark of the American stage.
Stove top, microwaved; organic, free range, genetically-modified; omnivore, vegan; trans-fat, low-fat, low-cal, no carb, gluten-free; savory, sweet, healthy, forbidden. Whether it’s satisfied by a home cooked meal, soup tipped from the can, a Happy Meal, or a burrito grabbed from a cart, our hunger is inescapable, inevitable, and essential. Food is who we are.
Equal parts drama, documentary, social experiment, and installation, Eugenia Woods’ new play, Famished, reveals the relationships we develop with and around food and the often convoluted ways we seek to satisfy our essential hunger.
THE MISSING PIECES
Mt. St. Helens volcanic ash is smothering Portland, and Timmy is dying of the VD, but before he goes, he’s gotta get to the Playboy Mansion. Can Miss May 1963 free him from his mother’s Catholic claws and help Hugh Hefner see that Timmy’s the son he always wanted but never had?
Fresh from the 2009 JAW playwrights festival, The Missing Pieces by Portland writer Nick Zagone is a warped, hilarious journey of adolescence where nothing, especially the Church, is sacred, and everything is up for grabs.
MA RAINEY’S BLACK BOTTOM
1927. The beginnings of the Chicago Black Renaissance. At a recording studio in the heart of the city a group of musicians and a record producer anxiously await the entrance of legendary blues singer Ma Rainey (don’t dare compare her to Bessie Smith), known both for her music and her attitude. What happens that day is a fiery battle of wills as heart-strung as the blues itself.
Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom is the third chapter in August Wilson’s ten-play Century Cycle that chronicles the lives of African-Americans through the twentieth century. Set in an era when artistic expression was flourishing across color lines, that nurtured Langston Hughes, Louis Armstrong, and Margaret Walker.