Thursday, October 27, 2011

A cabal for all

You’ve heard of a murder of crows, a gaggle of geese and a pride of lions. I think a cabal of dramaturgs describes us nicely, don’t you? Dramaturgs together make for a disparate group, but they tend to have one important thing in common — a talent for bilocation. Because we stand inside the artistic process as well as outside it, frequently we’re able to hold on to a detached sense of perspective that the theater really, really needs. If you ax me.

That’s why the fabulous Kate Bredeson (theater prof @ Reed College) and I are hosting an informal dramaturgs’ town hall this January, during the Portland’s Fertile Ground Festival. This city-wide celebration of original work for the stage is a kaleidoscopic array of spanking new performances, a good chunk of them created just for those crazy 10 days and nights. It’s been a boon for theater folk and theater audiences both, since at this point (2012’s fest is the fourth already), many theaters are launching into new work specifically to leverage the visibility Fertile Ground can offer them.

Playwrights and dramaturgs have been gaining ascendancy in Portlandia for years now. Some of the city’s most interesting companies have literary components helping to set their artistic agendas, including Portland Playhouse, Third Rail Rep and Artists Repertory Theatre. Playwriting groups are flourishing, some which have intriguing dramaturg/producer components. Commissioning is quietly blossoming (more about that in weeks to come). And certain smaller companies have been quick to add the dramaturg job description to their development processes — sometimes, avowedly, without much idea of what their dramaturgs were actually supposed to be doing for them!

Perhaps, then, it’s a good time for a gathering of the tribes. For us to discuss whether there are ways we can better help drive artistic platforms, rather than those platforms driving us.

If this interests you, Kate and I invite you to attend this meeting when January rolls around. Details are below. Questions? Hail me at mead hunter at juno dot com — if you’re not a spambot (and I’m sure you’re not), just close up the spaces in my address and we’re in touch.


Reed College presents
Hosted by Kate Bredeson and Mead Hunter

Venue: Reed College mainstage theater, 3203 SE Woodstock Boulevard
Festival Date: Jan 22, 2012 @ 2 pm

Tickets: Event is free and open to the public

More information: directions to Reed's theater here.

Why not admit it, dramaturgs are the unsung heroes of new play development; their ideas and their connections often provide the impetus to kick-start original theater projects. Since Portland is fast becoming known as a hotbed of new work, where do we, as dramaturgs, fit into this changing topography? How can we encourage, support and even initiate innovative developments? In this informal meeting, we’ll attempt to map the new play territory locally and nationally and then brainstorm ways to pursue a proactive theater agenda.

Whether you’re a career dramaturg, an occasional practitioner, a new play stakeholder or just curious about the profession of dramaturgy, you are very welcome at this meeting.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Embraceable Her

Brace Yourself: Louanne’s Benefit for Benefits

7 pm Monday, October 3

$20 suggested donation

Artists Repertory Theatre
1515 SW Morrison St.

If you live in Portland, no doubt you’ve heard that beloved theater icon Louanne Moldovan, founder of Cygnet Productions, suffered a terrible one-two punch of accidents this past August. Following a hospital stint that had her trussed up like a Constructivist installation, Louanne’s now at home in a thick C-collar that Elizabeth I might have envied, but which keeps her (Louanne) unable to do much of the work she is so respected for.

On Monday evening, the theater community is coming together to raise funds for her upcoming operation (insurance will not cover this vital procedure — no surprise there, I’m sorry to say) through a retrospective of the company she founded. The evening includes music by Dave Frishberg and two original short plays by Sue Mach and Doug Baldwin. Details below. With a lot of Portland theater royalty turning out to support one its own, this will be a night to remember.

If, like me, extant commitments prevent you attending on Monday, not to worry — just go to any Wells Fargo Bank and make a deposit to the Louanne Moldovan Fund. Or mail a check to the Fund c/o Cygnet Productions, PO Box 15205, Portland OR 97293.

Here’s some more information from the Facebook page about the event:

Cost: $20 donation suggested at the door. Cash or check only (sorry, no credit cards) for tickets and raffle items.

This will be a Cygnet-style literary cabaret — a retrospective of 20 years of fabulous theater. Food and drink will be available, and strange and wondrous things will be raffled off.

Don Alder and Duffy Epstein will emcee. Dave Frishberg will kick the evening off at 7 pm with something witty and Frishbergian, in Artist Repertory Theatre’s Morrison-side lobby. Then the action moves downstairs to the Alder lobby, and then in to the theater. The Andre St. James trio will play during the evening, and Dorothy Sermol will sing. Actors including (but certainly not limited to) Bobby Bermea, Gregg Bielemeier, Dave Bodin, Kristen Brown, Danny Bruno, David Burnett, Eric Hull and VOX, Michele Mariana, Nyla McCarthy, John Morrison, Vana O’Brien, Ted Roisum, Luisa Sermol, Marilyn Stacey, and Wendy Westerwelle will perform excerpts from Cygnet hits such as Love Letters on Fire, The Wild Party, Withering Looks, Variations on a Bard, The Setup, and more (including the command performance of Chicken Kamasutra).

Two 10-minute plays inspired by Louanne’s tumble will be performed, one by Sue Mach and one by actor/playwright Doug Baldwin.

Enjoy a delightful one-of-a-kind evening as some of Portland’s finest talent does what they do best, for a cause close to their hearts.