Friday, January 30, 2009


PlayGroup presents


by Althea Hukari, Shelly Lipkin, Ellen Margolis, Steve Patterson, Andrea Stolowitz, Patrick Wohlmut, Nick Zagone + Matthew B. Zrebski

directed by Matthew B. Zrebski

with the talents of Deirdre Atkinson, Ben Buckley, Timothy M. Hill and Lara Kobrin

8 playwrights. Each with a Portland location assigned by chance operation. The result: 8 short plays adding up to a kaliedoscopic portrait of Stumptown, Bridge City, The City of Roses, the City That Works, Greenlandia. The City of ..........

When: this coming Monday, February 2, 2009 @ 7:30pm

Where: The Gerding Theater, Portland Center Stage @ The Armory

Wny: The Fertile Ground Festival

Special tip for the hip: Open City leads directly to the fabulous Fertile Ground Festival closing night fete. Come for the art, stay for the hooch!

At left: the famed Fremont Bridge Troll. Which is actually in Seattle, not Portland, but who's counting.

Cafe Society debuts ce soir

This is little enough notice, c'est vrai, but just in case anyone's still reading this blog after my dilatory posting patterns of late, come on down to PCS this evening for a drink, a snack, some dish, and some camaraderie! Here's the official announcement.


Dear theater folks and friends,

Portland Center Stage and the Portland Area Theatre Alliance invite you to join us this Friday, January 30, for Cafe Society 2.0—a new monthly social gathering featuring music, lively conversation and cocktails, debuting in conjunction with the snazz-tastic Fertile Ground, the City-Wide Festival of New Works.

This veritable mingle-fest for Portland makers, doers, schemers and dreamers, offers a wunnerful-wunnerful opportunity to catch up with the scene, listen to the piano stylings of the redoubtable pianist Reece Marshburn and friends, and (who knows?!) maybe even sing a show-tune.

All-ages, free and open to the public. Drinks & refreshments available from the Armory Café. 5-7 pm in the Lobby, Gerding Theater at the Armory (128 NW Eleventh).

Hope to see you there -- in two hours.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

....same as it ever was.....

Hellzapoppin. All theater all the time. Between the fabulously relentless Fertile Ground Festival, which is resplendent with exciting new playwriting, plus the two shows running at PCS right now plus the normal business of the theater, I am, to quote the eminently quotable Joni Mitchell, “living on nerves and feelings.” Yes, the rest of that song applies, too.

And that’s my excuse for being an intermittent blogger as of late. In lieu of something more topical, please accept this thunderously unassuming little poem, penned by – surprise! – our friend Franz. Kafka. Ya, the original Mr. K. himself. Thank you, Patrick Tangredi, for sharing this with me.

You don't need to leave your room.
Remain sitting at your table and listen.
Don't even listen, simply wait.
Don't even wait.
Be quiet, still and solitary.
The world will freely offer itself to you,
to be unmasked, it has no choice.
It will roll in ecstasy at your feet.

Friday, January 23, 2009

I heart me some Arianna

Okay, so The Huffington Post may not be what you’d want to call impartial. But its front page for today warms my cockles. In an article titled “3 Days of Undoing Bush,” a partial list of Obama’s activities includes:

Signs order to close Guantanamo

Shutters CIA “Black Site” prisons

Forbids torture of detainees

Lifts abortion “gag rule”

Freezes proposals on easing emissions

Revives Freedom of Information Act

Not bad for his first half a week on the job.

Remember the first thing his predecessor did? Went on vacation. Yes that's right.

And all right, I’ve mostly forgiven Obama for that offensive faux pas with fag-bashing hypocrite Rick Warren. The spectacle of that bigot pretending to grace Obama's inaguration with Christian love almost made me forego the rest of it. Glad I persevered.

But that's another post, isn't it.

Thank you Buchino for alerting me to the Huffington cover story.

Monday, January 19, 2009

My new philosophy for 2009

Yeah, I know we're nearly three weeks into the new year. So I've been busy, okay? Anyway: for you. And for me, who needs to hear it. Evidently. The evidence being this pillar-to-post busyness that is really starting to feel sooooo Mad Men.

Anyhow. You can ignore the visuals here, unless you're really into Doris Day (you're not, are you?). Just enjoy ... the lyrics.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Almost Famous, 3rd Edition

Bob Hicks of Art Scatter has bestowed an honor upon us: the Premios Dardo Award, a peer distinction given by one blog to another as a way of acknowledging those who have delighted, instructed, enlightened and/or amused us.

My virtual research has failed to find out who started the Award or when it began, but I notice blogs with this distinction hail from as far away as Kyrgyzstan and Kazakhstan. And I’m ticked to be among their number.

A full year ago, Technorati claimed to be tracking over 112.8 million blogs, and the number has surely grown exponentially since then. If you’ve ever clicked the “next blog” button on Blogger or WordPress, you’ve seen for yourself that there’s a lot of dreck out there. But there’s also much that's smart, personal, even affecting. Perhaps the Premios Dardo can help us distinguish (to borrow a phrase from Bob himself) the gold from the pyrite.

Here are the rules for receiving and sharing the Award:

1) Accept the award, post it on your blog together with the name of the person that has granted the award and his or her blog link.

2) Pass the award to another 15 blogs that are worthy of this acknowledgment.

3) Remember to contact each of them to let them know they have been chosen for this award.

So I’m passing it on herewith. Several blogs I haunt, such as Culture Shock and Splattworks, just received the distinction and so can’t be re-warded, but I still had no trouble finding my full complement of 15. I hope you’ll take the time to visit each of them.


Bamboo Nation


Studio Z

ghost light

The Fortress of Jason Grote

Notes on Acting

i wanna be sedated

The Mesmer Project

Sheila Callaghan.Playwright.Blog

what cannot be won, might be coaxed



Portland Center Stage

the “blog” of “unnecessary” quotation marks

And this is only a partial list of blogs I love. Feast!

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Apollo blasts off

Heavens be praised, opening night of Apollo was the soaring experience we all hoped it would be. (The photo above, by Valerie Spencer, is from the Sputnik section in Part 1.) Yes, the show's a marathon, clocking in at this point at 3.5 hours of playing time; yes, it is sometimes frustratingly (though, we hope, purposefully) repetitious. But the consensus is that it’s a visual and aural feast, a great ride, and worth expedition when it arrives at its profoundly moving conclusion.

Not everybody agrees, of course. During the previews this past week, we invited opinions, either through the questionnaires we passed out or via emails to In addition, as always, various members of the artistic staff have been hailed and assailed through phone calls as well as by email. Friday – the morning after the final preview – I was cc’d on an ecstatic email from a teacher who urged her colleagues all over the county to work with us to make sure their students see the production during its brief (three-week) run. That same morning, Chris Coleman got an email from a patron who accused him of mounting the whole thing just to irk her personally.

Make up your own mind. Don’t miss this singular event, the linchpin production of the Fertile Ground Festival. And bear in mind that tonight, the twittering, chittering, chatteringnattering virtual community is invited to sit in the balcony and comment on the production while it’s in progress. I’m seeing Fat Pig tonight, but as soon as I can rush back home and fire up Twitter I’ll be participating in the colloquium, too.

Hope to see you there.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Almost Famous, Chapter 2

Dear Reader,

Yet again I ax you to forgive me for my neglect. It’s been blustery and flustery at stately Wayne Manor recently, with How To Disappear and Never Be Found rehearsing (and thus Rose is MIA), Apollo in previews and Fertile Ground already on the simmer. Yikes! By the way, for a handy blog item that manages to encompass all the above, check out The Mighty Cannon’s recent musings at Culture Shock. The mystery man is really on a roll, a tear, a wild, wild ride........

In the midst of all that the excitement (and let’s face it, stress = stress, even if you are having fun whilst undergoing it), an ongoing oasis for me is always PlayGroup, PCS's writers' unit. Yeah, that’s the gang at right. Our bimonthly meetings are elemental for me – touchstones where I’m reminded that it’s great playwriting that makes all the rest of the madness worthwhile.

As you know, because you never miss a post here, a week ago Monday we hosted a public reading of Patrick Wohlmut’s new play Continuum, the group’s Sloan commission. The omnipresent Barry Johnson, of Oregonian and Art Scatter fame, spoke to Patrick and I in advance of the reading – a conversation I wish could have gone on for much longer. But now Barry’s recorded his impressions of that conversation as one of the inaugural entries on his new column, Portland Arts Watch. You now have to scroll down to January 11, that’s how remiss I’ve been as of late, but if you do you will be rewarded with finding out all about us.

And now for a preview of coming PlayGroup exploits, plucked from the official Fertile Ground calendar:

The Orchard by Althea Hukari
Directed by Olga Sanchez

A Portland Center Stage Playgroup event

Festival Date: Jan. 26 at 7:30pm

Chekhov comes to Hood River in this large-cast, ensemble comedy-drama, with echoes of The Cherry Orchard and The Three Sisters, about a Finnish-American family in transition. Ms. Hukari is a founding member of PlayGroup, Portland Center Stage's celebrated playwriting unit.

Venue: Main Stage, Gerding Theater at the Armory (128 NW 11th Ave)

Open City
by Althea Hukari, Shelly Lipkin, Ellen Margolis, Steve Patterson, Andrea Stolowitz, Patrick Wohlmut, Nick Zagone, and Matthew B. Zrebski

A Portland Center Stage Playgroup event

Festival Dates: Feb 2 at 7:30 pm

For this group show created by PlayGroup (whose previous escapades include The Clearing, Frenching the Bones and Ten Tiny Playlets) and directed by Matt Zrebski, each playwright pulled a Portland location and a cast size out of hat, then went to work on a short play inspired by those circumstances. The result, presented in rehearsed concert form, is a kaleidoscopic vision of the Rose City that adds up to a town we all recognize.

Venue: Main Stage, Gerding Theater at the Armory (128 NW 11th Ave)

A Fully Staged World Premiere

Vitriol and Violets
Music and lyrics by Dave Frishberg, book by Shelly Lipkin, Louanne Moldovan and Sherry Lamoreaux

[ Not a PlayGroup event, but Shelly is a beloved PlayGroup member]

Festival Dates: Jan 23 at 8:00 pm, Jan. 24 at 2:00 and 8:00 pm, Jan 25 at 2:00 pm, Jan 30 at 8:00 pm, Jan. 31 at 2:00 and 8:00 pm, Feb 1 at 2:00 pm.

Full extended run: Jan 16 to Feb 1, 2009

New York, 1920. The Great War is over, and people are hungry to live and laugh again. Nobody laughed more than the "Algonquin Round Table", a group of writers and their friends who gathered at the Algonquin Hotel. During the course of their "ten-year lunch," Table associates Alexander Wolcott, Robert Benchley, Dorothy Parker, George S. Kaufman, Edna Ferber, Heywood Broun, Harold Ross, Harpo Marx and Jane Grant gained fame and fortune as much for their widely quoted bon mots as for their significant achievements. This stage play, which premiered at Lakewood Theater Company and won an Oregon Book Award, has been completely rewritten as a musical in collaboration with Dave Frishberg, one of the nation's foremost Jazz composers (and a Portland Native).

Venue: The Blue Room at the Scottish Rite Center (709 SW 15th)

Monday, January 12, 2009


Taking a suggestion from Studio Z, I decided to start my OWN Celebrity Look-a-like service.

Ah....MUCH better. Sometimes to get something done right, you just have to up and do it yourself, you know? Thank you.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Horror Show

All right, back to me. Guess what, there’s a new site out there called MyHeritage – a genealogy site, essentially, but one with a hook. You log on and enroll, and after the usual assurances that your name won’t be sold to anybody at any time, you’re treated to a couple of tedious “opportunities” to hear from Tempurpedic and other fine merchandisers. Then at last you get to the goodies. You upload a photo of yourself, and the site tells you which celebs you resemble!

And okay. I wasn’t expecting Shia LeBeouf, right? Or even Sean Connery. But I was ill-prepared for the extent of the program’s cruelty. The first search likened me to Michael Douglas, James Doohan, Itzhak Rabin and Larry Flynt, for mercy’s sake. Yikes!

Naturally I wasn’t settling for that; I uploaded a fresh photo, this time by professional photographer extraordinaire Owen Carey. And did somewhat better: Kirk Douglas. John Goodman (hmm) and George Bush. That’s Dubya to you, Mr. Snark, not Aitch Dubya.

Not to be outdone, I tried uploading a photo of Sean Connery. And was rewarded with a phto of…Sean Connery.

This is why I am now on a starvation diet.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

...the rain, the rain, the.....

There are so many poems of Dorianne Laux's that I'd love to share with you, but given Oregon's sodden, wind-whipped, Wuthering Heights time warp currently, this one seems apt.

After Twelve Days of Rain

I couldn't name it, the sweet
sadness welling up in me for weeks.
So I cleaned, found myself standing
in a room with a rag in my hand,
the birds calling time-to-go, time-to-go.
And like an old woman near the end
of her life I could hear it, the voice
of a man I never loved who pressed
my breasts to his lips and whispered
"My little doves, my white, white lilies."
I could almost cry when I remember it.

I don't remember when I began
to call everyone "sweetie,"
as if they were my daughters,
my darlings, my little birds.
I have always loved too much,
or not enough. Last night
I read a poem about God and almost
believed it--God sipping coffee,
smoking cherry tobacco. I've arrived
at a time in my life when I could believe
almost anything.

Today, pumping gas into my old car, I stood
hatless in the rain and the whole world
went silent--cars on the wet street
sliding past without sound, the attendant's
mouth opening and closing on air
as he walked from pump to pump, his footsteps
erased in the rain--nothing
but the tiny numbers in their square windows
rolling by my shoulder, the unstoppable seconds
gliding by as I stood at the Chevron,
balanced evenly on my two feet, a gas nozzle
gripped in my hand, my hair gathering rain.

And I saw it didn't matter
who had loved me or who I loved. I was alone.
The black oily asphalt, the slick beauty
of the Iranian attendant, the thickening
clouds--nothing was mine. And I understood
finally, after a semester of philosophy,
a thousand books of poetry, after death
and childbirth and the startled cries of men
who called out my name as they entered me,
I finally believed I was alone, felt it
in my actual, visceral heart, heard it echo
like a thin bell. And the sounds
came back, the slish of tires
and footsteps, all the delicate cargo
they carried saying thank you
and yes. So I paid and climbed into my car
as if nothing had happened--
as if everything mattered--What else could I do?

I drove to the grocery store
and bought wheat bread and milk,
a candy bar wrapped in gold foil,
smiled at the teenaged cashier
with the pimpled face and the plastic
name plate pinned above her small breast,
and knew her secret, her sweet fear.
Little bird. Little darling. She handed me
my change, my brown bag, a torn receipt,
pushed the cash drawer in with her hip
and smiled back.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

MerryMerry Twelfth Night

Let the joyous news be spread
The wicked old witch at last is dead.

Epiphany. No, not that one, this one. As all Catholics and theater folk know (thanks to Shakespeare, in the latter case), Epiphany is more than a maudlin soft rock song. In the West European tradition, January 6 is the twelfth and last night of Christmas. You know—the evening when, according to the Bible, wise men from the East (probably astrologers) were led by a star to the infant Jesus in Bethlehem, arriving twelve days after his birth to present gifts of gold (for a king), frankincense (for a priest), and myrrh (as a prescient symbol of suffering).

Historically a lot of quaint and bizarre traditions pertain to the holiday, such as placing three crosses lined with garlic and holy water on the lintel of doors to ward off god-knows-what. In our ostentatiously secular time, the more popular tradition is that you’re legally allowed at long last to rid your home of all holiday frippery.

It’s also the time when employers can legitimately remind us that they party’s over and we can hie ourselves back to work any time now. For most of us, that means hitting the ground running. The past two days have both been endless rounds of meetings and emails for me, but with some fun stuff in there, too: the Continuum reading (which went very well, thank you), a run-through of Apollo (fabulous), and an inspiring meeting of Willamette Writers.

But the biggest epiphany may be just around the corner: the maiden voyage of Portland’s Fertile Ground Festival of new work for the stage. Stay tuned for more about that.

Saturday, January 3, 2009

New for 2009: hanging out my shingle!

Color me sentimental, but I decided January 1 was the perfect day to go live with my new business: SuperScript Editorial Services, LLP. Yeah, the name pretty much says it all. For years I’ve been taking on various editing gigs as they fell into my lap; now I’m ramping things up a notch by actually seeking new projects. Tell all your friends. Right now.

Something that’s special about this new endeavor is that while I’m happy to take on all kinds of editing projects, I’m hoping that over time I’ll skew the bulk of the work toward developmental editing. Qu’est-ce que c’est? It’s a form of consultation, really, in which the editor works with an author as s/he writes. It may include discussion of the author’s intent, the structure of the work, and questions of style, among many other factors.

To date I have a good amount of experience working developmentally with non-fiction – less so with fiction. Yet I have the audacity to seek out such work because of the decades to my credit of dramaturgical consulting. True, the deep structure of a dramatic work is inherently different than a novel or a biography. But what crosses over is the sense of knowing how to work with a writer: when the writer needs reassurance as opposed to requiring serious criticism; when a vision should be teased out just as conceived and when it needs drawing out more fully.

{ Word o’clarification, however. At present, it’s best that I not do any dramaturgical consulting under the SuperScript banner. The reason: I perceive a conflict of interest. PCS employs me to be its resident dramaturg, and I perform such work in preparation for production, in addition to serving in a curatorial capacity for JAW and the regular season. And I would never want my editing business to be regarded as a back door into the company. If I ever retire from theater (and is that even possible?), this would be different, of course. }

SO. Special for you. Since I would like to get more experience as a developmental editor of fiction, I’m currently willing to assume two or three projects on a pro bono basis. Have you got a secret novel stashed away that needs to come out of the closet? Or a classic “monster in the box” waiting to be tamed into publishable shape? Maybe we can work together. Let me know. Let’s talk.