Fertile Ground Festival, Portland

My first year attending the Fertile Ground Festival in Portland Oregon, USA, a 10 day gathering of art and performance whose only common thread is the work must be Portland based and premier here in Portland. Sponsored by the Portland Area Theater Alliance, these artistic offering span a broad range of venues and levels of production, and spring from a range of sources, self-produced, large, professional theatrical companies, ensembles, collaborative efforts, workshop level productions, all of which include a wide range of experiences; theater, dance, musical, comedy, visual art,and film works. At 50 dollars for a festival pass the possibilities are nearly endless, I chose venues and works that piqued my interest, and fit my schedule. There were many more I could have seen, but there is always next year.

For opening night I chose International Falls a play written by Thomas Ward and directed and co-produced by Brandon Woolley. Cast includes Isaac Lamb as Tim and Laura Faye Smith as Dee. Set in a hotel room in a Holiday Inn, in (where else) International Falls, MN. This play immediate drew me in voyeuristically, interspersed with stand up comedy by Tim, to remind us we were an audience and not peeping through the window of the hotel room. We are witness to the hookup of Tim and Dee following his last show at the venue. They took us down a darkly funny path of humor, philosophy, the juxtaposition of comedy and tragedy, and the deep wounds from which comedians draw their humor. A raw peek into soul, life and love. Please don’t miss it, plays through Feb 16th at the CoHo theater on 22nd/NW Raleigh

The Spinnerettes,perform before The Lost Boy

The Spinnerettes,perform before The Lost Boy

The Lost Boy, at Artists Repertory Theater

The story details the kidnapping of a young boy in the late 1800’s, the media and political exploitation of the event and the family, I feel so much less inspired to write about this play. While it was technically well done, I did not find the story emotionally engaging. It was more like reading a newspaper article on the subject. It was interspersed with circus acts that were entertaining, but the play felt plodding at times. It was one event that I was kind of glad to see end, and I don’t like to feel that way about anything I watch.

Ribbons of War at Shaking the Tree studio

A workshop production musical play based on the 2006 concept album of the same name by the Philly based Indie rock band “The Extraordinaires”, a love story about a ships’ captain and her true love Annalies, two independent spirits, jealousy, tragedy, love and war. Delightfully campy, intentionally and unintentionally funny, lyrical and moving, . Musically arranged and performed by Andrew Fridae and Justin Jude, the vocal performance was carried by Annalies, played by Bahar Baharloo, who flawlessly wove her voice throughout the story. I wanted to hear her sing, not true for all the vocal performances, however what was lacking in polish was more than made up for in enthusiasm. There is Love! War! Sea Monsters! Enjoy!

Still to come- Rain! The musical, Whipping Cream and Freudian Dreams/Oh F*ck, Oh Sh*t, It’s Love The Musical, and Feral-Homelessness in Portland.

  • Fertile Ground 2013 is a 10-day arts festival held January 24 through February 3 in Portland, Oregon, USA. More information can be found here.

Review from Heather Miller


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