2020 has brought Oregon dramatists’ inherent can-do spirit to the fore.
In the high desert, Bend’s Cascades Theatrical Company pivoted from in-person to digitally livestreaming their 10-minute play festival, featuring work by LOLLY WARD and AR NICHOLAS.
In the valley, Oregon Contemporary Theatre in Eugene migrated their NW10 festival online as well, featuring work by Nancy West, Connie Bennett, and JENNIFER CHANEY. Pegasus Playhouse, a children’s theatre company directed by SCOTT FRAZIER-MASKIELL, has continued to provide classes and production opportunities for youth, via Zoom.
Further south, big changes in Ashland, where the Oregon Shakespeare Festival weathered not only pandemic furloughs, but wildfires, with incoming Executive Director David Schmitz taking the helm days before destruction in neighboring Talent and Phoenix would send the theatre into triage mode, doing everything they could to feed, clothe and house those displaced by the fires.
“Aside from the successful pivot to all things digital through OSF’s digital platform, we’re all about looking to the new year, planning and standing by for a return to normalcy,” writes OSF’s CJ Martinez. “In 2021, look for announcements galore about performances digital and live.”
The Ashland New Plays Festival has undergone a leadership change, with Jackie Apodaca becoming their fourth Artistic Director, beginning January 2021, as Kyle Hayden steps down.
“We also had our first virtual Fall Festival this past October and it was incredibly well-received by our audiences,” says ANPF’s Kara Lewis. The 2020 Festival featured plays by IAN AUGUST, KARI BENTLEY-QUINN, WILLIAM CAMERON, DAVID HILDER, and Grace McLeod.
Portland theatremakers adapted to the moment: “Portland Center Stage has launched PCS Remix: a two-year program designed to offer eight fully-staged, heart-soaring theatre productions when it is safe to gather and, in the meantime, providing a diverse array of exciting virtual and community experiences,” says the company’s new Literary Manager, Kamilah Bush. PCS also launched its Plays at Home series, featuring works by SARA JEAN ACCUARDI, E. M. LEWIS, JOSIE SEID, and ANYA PEARSON.
Artists Repertory Theatre has just finished the second “Mercury Project” — a diverse and exciting new play development process that included 22 projects and more than 60 participants, including Josie Seid’s Forget Me Not, America film, EM Lewis’ Magellanica audio drama and DAN KITROSSER’s Why This Night workshop and reading.
Bag & Baggage Theatre partnered with MATTHEW MILLER to produce its Sequestered Soliloquies.
A newcomer to the theatre scene, The New Play Project launched the first in its ongoing new works workshops, featuring Lindsay Partain’s one woman show The Way You Made Me and my play Windberry Creek. Says founder and producer, Devon Roberts, “We look forward to the 2021 sharing of Lyra Na-Lan’s epic retelling of the Chinese myth NÜ WA and the HERO.”
And for the first time, we launched an Oregon Dramatists Footlight series, so far supporting the workshop readings of new plays by Oregon playwrights JENIFER KAY HOOD, GREG BERMAN, RICH RUBIN, SOFIA MOLIMBI, Brian Schnipper, PAUL K. SMITH, and Anya Pearson.
Looking forward to a healthy and productive 2021!