What’s more fun than seeing someone you know and like on the cover of American Theatre magazine? Seeing the show that inspired the cover, of course. Ya, that’s Liam Kaas-Lentz’s handsome mug to the right, gracing the April issue of said publication. And that's Hannah Treuhaft below, photographed with Liam. Both are company members of Sojourn Theatre — one of the jewels in the crown of national theater, let alone Stumptown’s. And guess what, next week Sojourn opens a new show it’s been working on for years.
On the Table is ambitious even by Sojourn’s standards. Reflecting the company’s commitment to site-specific and journey-based theater, every performance starts in two different locations simultaneously: Portland, and the rural town of Molalla (population 7,500). You start in one location, or you start in the other, where you bear witness to a community event and meet a host of fictional characters. Following that, you all board a bus and travel to an intermediate third location, where you meet the audience — and the characters — of another play altogether.
It turns out, you see, what you saw back in Molalla or Portland was just part of a bigger story. That bus ride is a journey through time as well as space, because now you are 20 miles and 30 years from where we started. All 90 of us wind up at one big communal dinner, where two people are about to make the biggest decision of their lives. From the Sojourn press release:
They’ll turn to their neighbors (you), and ask a question of life-altering and state-defining significance. Join us as we revisit the truth of a conversation that never occurred, and that happens every day, in an effort to help two families and an urban/rural citizenry decide – once and for all – who needs whom, and why?
Intrigued? I am. Usually theater happens in a cocoon of darkness. We’re safe; almost by definition, nothing is going to happen to us there. And while that shared experience of sitting in the dark while being told a story may imply a community forum, it’s rarely really the case. Sojourn’s presentations are remarkable because they actually need you to see them in order to complete the play — not just so you’ll buy a ticket, not to justify some grant, but because the play is actually about your presence in that room. Or in this case, at that table, breaking bread with 89 other people.
Rarely has “going along for the ride” been this specific. You are invited to come along, and you are needed. But if you want to be part of it, get your tickets soon. The nature of Sojourn’s work means it usually has short runs in small venues. And typically the company will have light houses for its first weekend, then word gets out, then suddenly it can’t accommodate all the people who want to have the experience. And people like me are throwing tantrums and dropping names like Oprah and Obama just to wrangle single tickets.
So don’t say I didn’t warn you. Get your tickets now. Then you’ll know what American Theatre is talking about.
What: World Premiere of Sojourn Theatre’s On The Table
Where: In Portland: The Church, 602 NE Prescott
In Molalla: Rosse Posse Acres, 32690 S Mathias Road
When: July 15 - August 1 (Wed - Sun 8:00pm), previews July 15 & 16
$15 General Admission
Pay-What-You-Can Preview on July 15
$25 Sojourn SupporTix (help keep prices low by choosing this premium rate)
$12 Students & Seniors (limited availability; advance purchase & show ID at door)
Tickets on sale at right here.
Advance purchase is strongly recommended. Only 90 tickets are available for each performance: 45 in Molalla, 45 in Portland. Wear comfortable shoes as the audience will stand and move throughout the event. Please call 971.544.0464 prior to purchasing tickets if you have questions or special needs regarding accessibility/mobility.