Pieter Breugel’s Hunters in the Snow (1565), on which the performance, Sisters in the Snow, is based.

All text written by Kathleen Dolan.

Listen to the artists talk about their work at Fertile Ground 2017.

The Fertile Ground Festival is back for its 7th year, presenting new works that run the theatre gamut: circus arts, staged reading, dance, musicals, solo shows and improvisation. At the festival’s Media Night on January 5th, hosted by Artist Repertory Theatre and festival director Nicole Lane, performers, playwrights and producers delivered five minute pitches to members of the press. In the buzzing studio lobby with an hour and a half’s time, Sean Ongley and I captured audio from what Lane calls “speed dating rounds.” This selection represents only about a quarter of the festival’s offerings, but it’s an illustrative sampling.

Improvisation is spotlighted this year with shows that rely on audience participation and random prompts, like Freebox and Crazy Dukes Instant Play Festival. Solo shows performed and written by women share that spotlight, and tap into topics of health, sexuality, and identity in tones both comic and tragic.

The work is all created locally, and you’ll get to know Portland more intimately yourself as the performances take the stage at popular theaters like Portland Center Stage, as well as the studio floors of lesser known venues across the city, like Sellwood Playhouse. FG17 begins January 19th and wraps up January 29th, but several shows continue their runs independently into February. Check out the AHPDX calendar for our suggestions, or visit the official schedule here.

Bunny – Prismagic presents a circus arts comedy written and directed by Petra Delarocha. Catch the magic of Bunny at Curious Comedy Theater, January 18th and 25th at 7:30pm and January 29th at 1pm and 4pm.

Petra Delarocha (left) Petra Delarocha (right) from Prismagic Presents “Bunny”

I Am An Actress…A Passion Play – Theatredust presents a return to the theatre for Jane Comer, who wrote and stars in this solo show, directed by Melanie Mosely. Comer performs her script debut at the Multnomah Arts Center on January 21st, 22nd, and 28th, at 2pm.

Melanie Moseley (left) Jane Comer (right) from “I Am An Actress… A Passion Play”

Crazy Dukes Instant Play Festival – Presented by PDX Playwrights, six playwrigts will write their plays during the festival, after receiving 4 prompts and cast members on the CDIPF Launch night. Gary Corbin of PDXP gives up the scoop here. The Launch night is at the Hipbone Studio on Friday, January 20th at 9:15pm and the plays born there will be performed at the Hipbone on January 27th and 28th at 9:30pm.

Gary Corbin, of PDX Playwrights, from “The Crazy Dukes Instant Play Festival Launch”

The Baby Project – Presented and performed by Sarah E. Shively, the staged reading spans the four years during which Sarah and her wife were trying to have a baby. Venues and Dates: 18th Avenue Peace House, Metanoia Peace Community on Saturday, January 21st at 3 and 7pm; Blackfish Gallery on January 22nd – 25th at 6pm; Bridgeport United Church of Christ on January 25th at 3pm; Vanport Square Studio on January 28th and 29th at 5pm.

Sarah E. Shively of “The Baby Project”

Daisy Dukes Shorts Night – PDX Playwrights presents eleven short plays centering around a common theme. Playwright and FG veteran Katie Bennett introduces her short, “Heaven on Fire.” All eleven will be performed on January 20th and 28th at 7pm at Hipbone Studio.

Katie Bennet, PDX Playwrights, from “Daisy Dukes Shorts”

Dust on My Shoes – The Musical – PDX Playwrights presents a musical by singer/songwriter Beverly Frentress of Stone Soup Blues, at the Hipbone Studio on January 22nd at 2pm and January 29th at 12pm.

Beverly Frentress from “Dust On My Shoes, The Musical”

4×3 – PDX Playwrights presents four plays by three playwrights: Knock It Off and The Glurping by Brad Bolchunos, Morning Coffee by Miriam Feder and The Rusty Wheel by Lauren Emery. The four short plays take the stage at Hipbone Studio on January 22 at 7pm and January 29th at 5pm.

Left to Right: Miriam Feder, Brad Bolchunos, Lauren Emery, from PDX Playwrights Presents “4×3”

Men Run Amok (or It Takes Balls) – Steve Perkins presents three short plays about gender and relationship at the Shout House on January 22, 23, and 24 at 7:30pm.

Steve Perkins from “Men Run Amok (It Takes Balls)”

Sisters in the Snow – Two sisters find themselves in a painting from 1565 in this debut play from Holly Johnson. Directed by Hester Schell and presented by Snow Storm Productions, the world premiere takes the stage at the Ellen Bye Studio at Portland Center Stage on January 21st and 22nd at 3pm.

Hester Schell (left), Holly Johnson (right) from “Sisters in the Snow”

Uncommon Sense – Echo Theatre presents a collection of performance modes – circus, dance, and storytelling – to look at our varying takes on social justice. Echo’s Executive Director, Bianca McCarthy gives us a quick pitch for the performance, which takes the floor at Echo Theater on January 20th, 21st, 27th and 28th at 8pm, January 22nd at 1pm and 4:30pm, and January 29th, at 4:30pm.

Bianca McCarthy from Echo Theatre Presents “Uncommon Sense”

Free Box – YOCTO Theater presents a piece of improvisation theater, inspired by the beloved and adventurous free boxes found across the city. Audiences will bring objects to put in the free box at each performance for performers Mary Rose and Nathaniel Holder to then grab and improvise a story. The Free Box happens at the Headwaters Theatre on January 19th, 21st, and 27th at 7:30pm; January 20th, 26th, and 28th at 9:30pm.

Mary Rose YOCTO Theatre from “Freebox”

Artful Raven Studio presents two performances at FG17, Homebrew 2017: A PDX Animation Showcase and The Jade Decanter. Sophya Vidal is the Homebrew curator and is happy to bring back the showcase for the second year in a row, at the 5th Avenue Cinema on January 22nd and 29th at 3pm. Vidal is also co-creator of The Jade Decanter, an improvised theatre world premiere, set in the 1940’s which shows at the Brody Theater on January 20th and 27th at 7:30pm.

Sophya Vidal from Artful Raven Studio presents “Homebrew 2017” and “The Jade Decanter”

Tether: A One-Woman Anti-Circus about Brain Chemistry – Written and performed by Sara Fay Goldman and presented by Fuse Theatre Ensemble, several theatre modalities play out Goldman’s experience and ongoing questions about ADD. The Steep and Thorny Way To Heaven on SE Hawthorne is the venue and performance dates are January 19th and 26th at 9pm; January 22nd and 29th at 5pm, January 25th at 7pm.

Sara Fay Goldman from “Tether”

ASTORIA: Part One – Sixteen actors will play eighty-four roles in this play adaptation of Peter Stark’s best-selling book about the westward thinking of Thomas Jefferson and John Jacob Astor and the journey to Astoria. The US Bank Main Stage at the Armory will host the play January 22nd, 24th and 25th at 7:30pm.

Benjamin Fainstein from Portland Center Stage presents “Astoria”

The Flower Cart – Presented by Spring 4th Productions, Tobin Gollihar and Ian Sieren play the father and son at a flower cart in this fully staged world premiere about all the occasions that call for flowers. Performed at Performance Works NW, on January 19, 20, 21, 26, 27, 28 at 7:30pm.

Ian Sieren (left) Tobin Gollihar from Spring 4th presents “The Flower Cart”

New Frontiers In Vaginal Consciousness (VAGCON) – DR TALLULAH presents a shamanic healing, sexually activating, and all-around therapeutic session to connect us all more intimately via the vagina, and its consciousness. (All genders welcome.) Healing starts at 8pm January 19, 20, and 21 at Lightbox Kulturhaus and again at 8pm at the SOMA Space on January 27, 28 and 29.

Kelly Nesbitt from Dr. TALLULAH PRESENTS “New Frontiers in Vaginal Consciousness”


Published by Sean Ongley

Co-Founder of THRU Media. A background in non-profit, music, and radio preceded my ambitions here. Now, I aspire to produce new media and publish independent journalism at this site and beyond.

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