What is a “line storm?” Poet Robert Frost describes this weather event in “A Line-storm Song,” asking, “What matter if we go clear to the west…?” and closing with a call to “be my love in the rain.” These sentiments describe our collective of dramatists creating works in the blustery Pacific Northwest. Twelve member playwrights regularly storm their pages to develop individual and group pieces, fostering public stagings for local, national, and international audiences.
Using 2019 as our guide, here’s a taste of a year in the life of LineStorm Playwrights:
January: LineStorm celebrated the new year by diving into our monthly meetings, which are open to the community, to hear our works in progress. As a company in residence at Artists Repertory Theater, we invited other writers, actors, and directors there to read aloud and provide feedback. I polished Do You Take This Woman?, on the last moments of an artist and critic’s marriage, later published in the Smith & Kraus Best Ten-Minute Plays of 2019 anthology.
February: We launched into Portland’s Fertile Ground Festival with seven readings of full-lengths, shorts, and a musical. Dan Kitrosser’s Svetlana! Svetlana!, which chronicles Joseph Stalin’s daughter’s absurd journey of defecting to the States, was picked up for a full production this summer.
March: Our annual write-a-play-in-a-month challenge ended with a weekend reading marathon. We gathered with many talented actors to hear massive amounts of pages and eat massive amounts of food. (Hat-tip to the LA-based Playwrights Union for the inspiration.) Audrey Block began developing Disaster Sessions, a devised piece on a married couple trying to withstand everything from sharks to fire.
April: Josie Seid was commissioned by Orphic to write a contemporary one-act adaptation of the Greek tragedy Herakles. She created Path of Glory about a promising young athlete plagued with nightmare-inducing guilt.
May: Brianna Barrett debuted After This Episode, a full-length play on childhood cancer commissioned by the award-winning theater program at Camas High School.
June: A few members stayed up all night to deliver new shorts for Profile Theatre’s 24-Hour Play Fest. Matthew Miller spearheaded our grant applications, securing funding in the fall from the Regional Arts and Culture Council, which the group used to provide free public readings with ASL interpretation, coordinated by Dot Hearn.
July: Sara Jean Accuardi won the Drammy Award for Outstanding Original Script for The Delays, a play about airport employees dealing with life’s missed connections and unexpected layovers, commissioned by Theatre Vertigo. Several LineStormers participated in JAW, a playwrights festival hosted by Portland Center Stage.
August: Susan Faust got inside the mind of a dementia patient with her dramcom, Confabulous, which was a finalist for the Portland Civic Theatre Guild’s New Play Award.
September: E. M. Lewis had a world premiere at Boston Court Pasadena with How the Light Gets In, the story of four lonely people who find each other when one of them falls apart.
October: Holly Richards added harmony to our bimonthly reading series with Welcome to Zion, a musical about one Mormon family whose son comes out as gay, co-presented with the Broadway Rose Theatre Company.
November: LineStorm collaborated to teach playwriting with PHAME, an arts academy serving adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities. Alan Alexander III had a reading of Jose’s Heroes, a futuristic dark comedy that feels all too real, when Sean Hannity is president and the Trump Memorial Wall is being used to keep Mexicans IN.
December: Rich Rubin won the 2020 Julie Harris Playwright Award for Picasso in Paris, a drama about the rivalry between Picasso and Matisse, workshopped earlier in the year at Gulfshore Playhouse. LineStorm saw one member off to an MFA program and welcomed Anya Pearson, who received the 2019 Problem Play commission from Bag&Baggage Productions to adapt Measure for Measure. Premiering March 2020, The Measure of Innocence explores the systemic injustice inherent in the criminal justice system and its effect on black families.
Catch our work in your neck of the woods or come see us anytime in the Northwest.
Find more about all members and activities at linestormplaywrights.com.
LOLLY WARD is an actress and playwright. Her works include Mate, on women who played games with chess champion Bobby Fischer, Theory of Nothing, an exploration of the physics of family, and Invention, a musical in progress about progress. Lolly lives in Portland, Oregon, where she co-founded LineStorm Playwrights.